Get information about the pre-veterinary major and its education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.
Schools don’t offer pre-veterinary studies as a major in a degree program; instead, students that seek careers as veterinarians should earn a bachelor’s degree program in animal science. Coursework in such programs is highly scientific and is devised to prepare students for a four-year veterinary school.
Animal science majors learn about the health, physiology, and behavior of animals, including livestock such as chicken, pigs, and cattle, in addition to zoo animals and companion animals.
They learn about the prevention and treatment of disease and ways of improving the quality of life for animals. Students can also gain the strong math and science background necessary for entering veterinary school.
Science courses can include biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, chemistry, and biology. Coursework also includes significant lab experiences. Students may also have to participate in internships to gain hands-on experience working with animals before they can graduate.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a high school diploma, and applicants may be required to have a solid background in math and science. Some highly selective schools may insist on an outstanding high school grade point average (GPA).
Coursework in a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Animal Science program varies by school. Core coursework may typically include topic areas such as:
Those who complete the degree program can seek entry-level occupations in various settings; additional education beyond the bachelor’s degree may be a requirement for many careers. They may choose from career options such as:
•Animal nutrition specialist
•Laboratory animal technician
Job and Wage Outlook
A job growth rate of 12% has been predicted for veterinarians over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $84,460 (BLS).
Continuing Education Choices
Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program can opt for continuing education and join veterinary school to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree.
Organizations such as the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) provide professional certification options for these graduates.
Animal scientists are certified in four areas by the ARPAS; these include Professional Animal Product Specialist, Registered Animal Specialist, and Professional Animal Scientist. A master’s degree in a related field is needed to acquire board certification. The AALAS offers the Certified Manager Animal Resources (CMAR), Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and Assistant Laboratory Technician (ALAT) certification options.