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Veterinarian Working Conditions

Veterinarians held about 78,300 jobs in 2014, of which about 74 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 18 percent were self-employed.

Physical working conditions for veterinarians can vary widely. Although most work in private clinics and hospitals, others travel to farms, work in laboratories or classrooms, or work for the government. Veterinarians who treat horses or food animals must travel between their offices and farms or ranches, work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to perform surgery 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.

Veterinarian working conditions can sometimes be emotionally stressful as the work often involves sick animals and distressed owners. Also, handling sick animals can make for a noisy workplace. Moreover, when working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians risk being bitten, kicked, or scratched.

Working conditions for veterinarians can include long hours, working nights or weekends, and responding to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours. About 1 in 3 veterinarians worked more than 50 hours per week in 2012.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition

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