Work Environment and Schedule

Work Environment

Veterinarians held about 61,400 jobs in 2010, of which 81 percent were in the veterinary services industry. Others held positions at colleges or universities; in private industry, such as medical or research laboratories; or in federal, state, or local government. About 9 percent were self-employed.

Although most veterinarians work in private clinics, others travel to farms, work outdoors, or work in laboratories.

Veterinarians who treat horses or food animals must travel between their offices and farms or ranches. They work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to perform surgery, often under unsanitary conditions.

Veterinarians who work in food safety and inspection must travel to farms, slaughterhouses, and
food-processing plants.

Veterinarians who conduct research work primarily in offices and laboratories and spend much of their time dealing with people rather than animals.

Veterinarians’ work can sometimes be emotionally stressful as they deal with sick animals and the animals’ anxious owners. Also, the workplace can be noisy as the animals make noise when sick or being handled.

When working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians risk being bitten, kicked, or scratched.


Work Schedule

Veterinarians often work long hours. Some work nights or weekends, and they may have to respond to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours. About 1 in 4 veterinarians worked more than 50 hours per week in 2010.



Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Veterinarians,
on the Internet at (visited September 14, 2013).

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