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How to become a zoo veterinarian

Updated April 17, 2017

The job of a zoo veterinarian is rewarding but difficult. Zoo veterinarians are responsible for the medical care of sick animals and preventive care for all the healthy ones. They do everything from routine blood work to specialised surgeries. Becoming a zoo veterinarian is difficult. There are not many zoo veterinarian positions that exist, and there's a long list of people competing for them. However, with determination, intelligence, hard work and a little luck, it's possible to land a zoo veterinarian job.

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  1. Earn a college degree. More than that, strive be at the top of the class. Most future veterinarians major in a biology-related field for their bachelor's degree. Wildlife and agriculture undergraduate degrees also are acceptable fields of study. Build a resume by volunteering at a local veterinary clinic. If there's one nearby that deals with exotic animals, volunteer there. Better yet, find a volunteer position at a nearby zoo.

  2. Go to vet school. Veterinary school is competitive, hence the need to earn good grades before applying. Find a school that has a zoological medicine speciality. Make sure the veterinary school is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA.

  3. Get a job at a vet clinic. Previous experience working with animals is necessary before a zoo veterinarian job offer is attainable. This is a good way to earn a little money while building up a resume. The sooner you can start--as early as high school--the better, but it's not too late to start during college. If you have trouble finding a job, be willing to volunteer at a vet clinic.

  4. Perform an internship in zoological medicine. Zoological medicine internships are so competitive that only a small fraction of the people who apply for them are accepted. In order to be one of the select few, it's necessary that everything up until now has been virtually flawless--top grades, volunteer work with animals, positions with organisations. Be prepared for a challenge when working to secure an internship.

  5. Have patience. If an internship doesn't come through, don't give up. Keep working with exotic animals and apply to be an assistant veterinary technician at a zoo. This career path takes longer than going the internship route, but it's still possible to become a zoo veterinarian this way. Have patience and do a great job day in and day out.

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About the Author

Katie Duzan is an accomplished writer who lives in Cary, N.C. She has been a writer since 2006. She has published a variety of articles on websites such as Duzan holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and computer information systems from the University of Arkansas, and currently attends the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she is pursuing her Master of Arts in special education.

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