Ten Ways To Use Your Vet Degree Outside Of Clinical Practice​

“So what else is there, besides clinical practice? Isn’t it all, like, boring desk jobs?” I’m glad you asked; you might be surprised! Here’s a starter list of some of the top ways DVMs are applying their degrees outside of clinical practice.

Posted: 18/03/2024

Read Time/Watch Time

5 minutes

Who should read this?

Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.


Melanie Barham


Global content

Ten ways to use your vet degree outside of clinical practice

“So what else is there, besides clinical practice? Isn’t it all, like, boring desk jobs?” I’m glad you asked; you might be surprised!

Here’s a starter list of some of the top ways vets are applying their degrees outside of clinical practice. However, the more people I interview, the more I realize there are so many options, a top 10 list doesn’t do it justice at all. With that, I better get back to editing interviews!

1. Specialize

This is, of course, the most understood and known about pathway. However, you might be surprised that there are other programs outside of the traditional residency/board certification that can set you apart from other candidates. Masters of Public Health, Masters of Health Administration, Policy and Advisory, among others.

2. Teaching

Many veterinary technician schools have DVMs on staff to teach. There are also online courses for laypeople that employ veterinarians as course instructors. There are also teaching gigs for high school, night school, community programs or colleges that take DVMs as instructors. Sessional instructors may be advertised at local universities or colleges. No specialization required.

3. Agricultural Industry

Industry can mean many many things these days. Agricultural organizations world wide are seeking veterinary expertise as a way to help inform their policy and leadership decisions, allow them to be more worldly, and provide in house expertise, particularly in animal welfare. Food companies also see the value of veterinary insight, as do packing companies, slaughter companies, marketing, and more. The pet food industry is no exception, and veterinarians have been involved for many years, some leading companies.

4. Side hustles of various kinds

The side hustle is really a catch all for a wide range of things that can bring joy to your current job, but may not be a full time occupation at the start. It’s a great way to dip your toe into something you feel passionate about, and it allows you the freedom to see if you want it as a full time job. You’ll find a surprising number of veterinarians engaged in side gigs, or side hustles, the hallmark of the millennial generation. These might range from teaching pet first aid, anatomical drawing, text book design, designing products and marketing them, web design, app design, invention, freelance writing and editing etc. The veterinary degree, being such a broad base of knowledge, really provides a gateway to do other things. Your side hustle might re-invigorate your daily work by working your brain in a different way, or it might become a full time gig. You never know until you try!

5. Government/regulatory

Veterinarians are increasingly being pulled into leadership roles for their expertise and knowledge on animal health, and their ability to work with other aspects of agriculture or health. Surveillance, analysis of data, research, defence strategies for the country: you name it, vets are there. Check your provincial or state government, or look federally. In the US, there are even loan repayment programs that can help out with debt retirement. There are many facets of regulatory medicine too, from sales barn regulation, horse racing regulatory roles, and meat inspection to name a few.

6. Military

This option may not be prevalent in Canada, but in the US, and other countries, veterinarians are employed in service in many areas. They offer great benefits, interesting challenges, and you are serving your country.

7. Pharmaceutical and laboratory industry

Veterinarians I know in this field lead satisfying lives through helping their colleagues understand the use of products, developing products, and advising technical staff, as well as leading teams. Getting products to market both from the developers side and the regulatory side is an important area as well. Laboratories also need veterinarians with practical field experience who can help translate knowledge and assist in test selection, sample submission etc.

8. Public health

Surprise, you’ll find veterinarians working on people: the less compliant, globally moving version of animal herds. While it may appear that human medicine is separate from veterinary medicine, more and more instance pop up where human disease and animal disease intersect. With increased focus on antimicrobial use and resistance, this trend can only grow.

9. Mobile imaging or other re-orchestrations of clinical practice

Are you a pro with your ultrasound? A whiz with dentistry? Certified in acupuncture and chiro? Is it something that other colleagues hate to do or don’t have the skillset currently to provide? There may be a need for your skillset in your area, allowing colleagues to keep services in house, instead of sending clients elsewhere. More flexibility of schedule, use of technical skills, and a variety of clinics, mean a totally different practice experience.

10. Telemedicine

Regulations have loosened up to allow for this new and emerging field to take place. In Ontario, Canada alone, two telemedicine companies have opened offering on-demand virtual consults to assess whether a pet needs to go to the vet, or answer basic questions. In the US, larger companies exist and are thriving. As an industry that has struggled for years with how to deal with the time patient questions take, without seeming mercenary, telemedicine is an interesting option.

This is an initial list, but I am sure that a Top 20 is due soon. What would you add to this list?

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