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Wildlife Vet?

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possumking

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Hi I'm currently a sophomore in college, taking general courses and I'm interested in becoming a wildlife vet, and i was wondering what steps i would need to take to get there? I've done some research but have gotten mixed results.
I currently reside in NJ.
Thank you!
 

pinkpuppy9

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Hi I'm currently a sophomore in college, taking general courses and I'm interested in becoming a wildlife vet, and i was wondering what steps i would need to take to get there? I've done some research but have gotten mixed results.
I currently reside in NJ.
Thank you!
1. DVM (obviously) +/- masters +/- PhD
2. Internship
-this can be a LA/SA internship or one specifically for exotics/wildlife
3. Residency in Zoo/wildlife med

That's the more common way to get into the zoo/wildlife niche (again, not always with a masters/PhD), but not all wildlife veterinarians get more formal training past their DVM. I know quite a few that didn't, but have been in wildlife rehab for years. It kind of depends on where exactly you'd like to work, as well. I've noticed that a lot of job postings require the DVM/masters combo, and may say they 'strongly prefer' candidates who are board certified in zoo med. Others are cool if you only have your DVM, but have experience in wildlife medicine. Some require you to be boarded. http://www.aawv.net/jobs.html#jobs is a good place to see what kind of credentials you might need to get to where you'd like to be.
 
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possumking

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1. DVM (obviously) +/- masters +/- PhD
2. Internship
-this can be a LA/SA internship or one specifically for exotics/wildlife
3. Residency in Zoo/wildlife med

That's the more common way to get into the zoo/wildlife niche (again, not always with a masters/PhD), but not all wildlife veterinarians get more formal training past their DVM. I know quite a few that didn't, but have been in wildlife rehab for years. It kind of depends on where exactly you'd like to work, as well. I've noticed that a lot of job postings require the DVM/masters combo, and may say they 'strongly prefer' candidates who are board certified in zoo med. Others are cool if you only have your DVM, but have experience in wildlife medicine. Some require you to be boarded. http://www.aawv.net/jobs.html#jobs is a good place to see what kind of credentials you might need to get to where you'd like to be.

This is probably a dumb question but is an undergrad degree required before pursuing a DVM?
 

pinkpuppy9

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This is probably a dumb question but is an undergrad degree required before pursuing a DVM?
A degree is not required for most schools (I'm not sure if there's a school out there that does require a degree), but the pre-reqs are required for sure. For some schools, an undergrad degree ranks you a bit higher in the decision process, but not very significantly.
 
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possumking

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A degree is not required for most schools (I'm not sure if there's a school out there that does require a degree), but the pre-reqs are required for sure. For some schools, an undergrad degree ranks you a bit higher in the decision process, but not very significantly.
So potentially I could complete the pre-reqs at my current community college and then apply for vet school? Sorry I just started researching, so I'm very new to all this but i appreciate your help!!
 

epivetlove

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So potentially I could complete the pre-reqs at my current community college and then apply for vet school? Sorry I just started researching, so I'm very new to all this but i appreciate your help!!

I think all schools require some upper-lever pre-reqs that can only be completed at a university. But it's definitely feasible to complete as many pre-reqs at your CC to help keep costs down!
 
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WildAnimal

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1. DVM (obviously) +/- masters +/- PhD
2. Internship
-this can be a LA/SA internship or one specifically for exotics/wildlife
3. Residency in Zoo/wildlife med

That's the more common way to get into the zoo/wildlife niche (again, not always with a masters/PhD), but not all wildlife veterinarians get more formal training past their DVM. I know quite a few that didn't, but have been in wildlife rehab for years. It kind of depends on where exactly you'd like to work, as well. I've noticed that a lot of job postings require the DVM/masters combo, and may say they 'strongly prefer' candidates who are board certified in zoo med. Others are cool if you only have your DVM, but have experience in wildlife medicine. Some require you to be boarded. http://www.aawv.net/jobs.html#jobs is a good place to see what kind of credentials you might need to get to where you'd like to be.

Agree with this. Also if you want to work in an actual zoo, some require an internship before beginning a zoo med internship, then after zoo internship you would do a residency. Some zoos require board certification and some don't. Or some just want you to be working toward it.

I know a lot of wildlife rehab places just like to see experience with exotics/wildlife and don't necessarily need internships/residencies, but some do. Some also provide internships.

Just remember that you likely won't get paid the greatest salary during internships and residencies, so having to do 1-6 years doing them might not be feasible if you want to start making plenty to pay off your loans. But you want to do something you love!
 
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possumking

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I think all schools require some upper-lever pre-reqs that can only be completed at a university. But it's definitely feasible to complete as many pre-reqs at your CC to help keep costs down!
Thank you! I will definitely look into seeing what I can complete where I am and where I can go for the rest of them! :)
 

pinkpuppy9

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Thank you! I will definitely look into seeing what I can complete where I am and where I can go for the rest of them! :)
Good luck! It is very, very competitive (and the pay is pretty bad given the years of higher education/training you go through), but I feel it's extremely rewarding.
 

epivetlove

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Just remember that you likely definitely won't get paid the greatest salary during internships and residencies, so having to do 1-6 years doing them might not be feasible if you want to start making plenty to pay off your loans. But you want to do something you love!

ftfy. :)
 
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pinkpuppy9

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Agree with this. Also if you want to work in an actual zoo, some require an internship before beginning a zoo med internship, then after zoo internship you would do a residency. Some zoos require board certification and some don't. Or some just want you to be working toward it.

I know a lot of wildlife rehab places just like to see experience with exotics/wildlife and don't necessarily need internships/residencies, but some do. Some also provide internships.

Just remember that you likely won't get paid the greatest salary during internships and residencies, so having to do 1-6 years doing them might not be feasible if you want to start making plenty to pay off your loans. But you want to do something you love!
Also adding that you can be eligible for board certification if you complete 6 years of related work. So you don't have to do the intern/resident route, it's just 'easier' and sometimes quicker.
 
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epivetlove

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And you don't have to technically do an internship to qualify for a zoo residency. But you're probably less likely to be as competitive as someone who did.
 
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When you're in vet school you can do a Lt of networking and get experience. We had a wildlife club, research opportunities, and many people organised zoo or wildlife clinic rotations in final year. If you know it's what you want to do, you can get on it ahead of time. For instance a lot of the zoo externships needed to be set up several years in advance, so only my really gung-ho classmates managed to get them.
 

that redhead

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No one has brought it up, but I would consider routes that allow you to work with wildlife aside from getting a DVM or even a PhD. Wildlife biology, field tech, zoo technician or keeper, research stations, etc...
 
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chickenlittle

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No one has brought it up, but I would consider routes that allow you to work with wildlife aside from getting a DVM or even a PhD. Wildlife biology, field tech, zoo technician or keeper, research stations, etc...

Agreed. There were 10-15 of us in my class who wanted to go the wildlife route and only one who actually did so... and I attribute that person's success largely to having a spouse with an established career who could support them through several years of unpaid/low-paid internships. It's very competitive, requires a lot of connections/luck/flexibility, and you definitely need a backup plan. If that backup plan involves other areas of vet med, go to vet school. If not, I wouldn't spend the money and look into other careers in wildlife conservation (working with the USGS, in academia, etc).
 
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possumking

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Agreed. There were 10-15 of us in my class who wanted to go the wildlife route and only one who actually did so... and I attribute that person's success largely to having a spouse with an established career who could support them through several years of unpaid/low-paid internships. It's very competitive, requires a lot of connections/luck/flexibility, and you definitely need a backup plan. If that backup plan involves other areas of vet med, go to vet school. If not, I wouldn't spend the money and look into other careers in wildlife conservation (working with the USGS, in academia, etc).
I'm interested in being a vet. I would prefer to work with wildlife and exotic animals, but if not I would also be happy being a regular vet, so I'll probably go to vet school no matter what. I just wasn't sure what route to take if I wanted to specialize in wildlife.
 
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chickenlittle

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I'm interested in being a vet. I would prefer to work with wildlife and exotic animals, but if not I would also be happy being a regular vet, so I'll probably go to vet school no matter what. I just wasn't sure what route to take if I wanted to specialize in wildlife.

My biggest recommendation would be to do college & vet school as cheaply as you possibly can. Some people get hung up on choosing the 'best' school for exotics/wildlife. The reality is that you can do externships in zoo/wildlife stuff as a student at any vet school.... but high student loans (from attending an out of state school) could absolutely prevent you from taking the low-paid internships/residencies/jobs that you'll need to get involved in the zoo/wildlife field. The biggest things you can do are networking and staying flexible.
 
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LetItSnow

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My biggest recommendation would be to do college & vet school as cheaply as you possibly can. Some people get hung up on choosing the 'best' school for exotics/wildlife. The reality is that you can do externships in zoo/wildlife stuff as a student at any vet school.... but high student loans (from attending an out of state school) could absolutely prevent you from taking the low-paid internships/residencies/jobs that you'll need to get involved in the zoo/wildlife field. The biggest things you can do are networking and staying flexible.

And, in all likelihood, those externships and extracurricular contacts will be far more critical to getting a foot in the door of that niche field than any particular school you go to.

Tough markets like that call for even more networking.

Totally agree.
 
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grouse25

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Hi All! This is a really interesting thread to me (sorry, coming to this a bit late, so hopefully you have some fresh perspectives by now!)

I was curious if anyone has any other ideas on the success rate for people that go into vet school interested solely in wildlife work (and by that, I mean, specifically with wildlife - not a zoo and not a rehab center) that actually get careers in wildlife veterinary work? I talked to the state of Idaho's wildlife vet for Idaho Fish and Game, and he said there are only 25 jobs in the nation similar to his and 8 more at USGS, which seems like pretty low odds in any given year that any of them are retiring and getting re-hired (although, I have seen more and more jobs posted over the years, so perhaps those numbers are increasing). After his summary of opportunities, I canned the idea of going into wildlife vet work. But I still really want to do it, I just don't see the job prospects post-graduation!

Any more ideas of how people have been able to secure jobs would be welcome! Also, any ideas on their pre-vet school experiences, connections, or focus would be welcome!
 

chickenlittle

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Hi All! This is a really interesting thread to me (sorry, coming to this a bit late, so hopefully you have some fresh perspectives by now!)

I was curious if anyone has any other ideas on the success rate for people that go into vet school interested solely in wildlife work (and by that, I mean, specifically with wildlife - not a zoo and not a rehab center) that actually get careers in wildlife veterinary work? I talked to the state of Idaho's wildlife vet for Idaho Fish and Game, and he said there are only 25 jobs in the nation similar to his and 8 more at USGS, which seems like pretty low odds in any given year that any of them are retiring and getting re-hired (although, I have seen more and more jobs posted over the years, so perhaps those numbers are increasing). After his summary of opportunities, I canned the idea of going into wildlife vet work. But I still really want to do it, I just don't see the job prospects post-graduation!

Any more ideas of how people have been able to secure jobs would be welcome! Also, any ideas on their pre-vet school experiences, connections, or focus would be welcome!

While I would defer to the actual wildlife vet's numbers, I would absolutely agree that the number of wildlife veterinarian jobs out there is extremely low. I wanted to go that route, then decided I'd settle for zoos or rehab, then decided I'd settle for public health, and then still ended up in small animal general practice. I wouldn't say that it's impossible to get a wildlife job, but I would say that it is incredibly unlikely and not really something that you can count on having as an option.

I recently signed up to volunteer with my state department of wildlife resources to scratch my wildlife itch, but I won't be doing anything veterinary.... just bird surveys and things like that.

Like I said above, I'd really think about your backup plan.... what will you do if you can't become a wildlife vet? If the medicine is more important than the wildlife aspect and your backup plan is to be a vet in clinical practice, get your DVM. If the wildlife side is more important than the medicine, and your backup plan would be doing wildlife field surveys or something like that, I'd focus on the wildlife side of things (MS or PhD) because you'll have a greater variety of job opportunities and less debt to pay off than with a DVM.
 
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pinkpuppy9

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Hi All! This is a really interesting thread to me (sorry, coming to this a bit late, so hopefully you have some fresh perspectives by now!)

I was curious if anyone has any other ideas on the success rate for people that go into vet school interested solely in wildlife work (and by that, I mean, specifically with wildlife - not a zoo and not a rehab center) that actually get careers in wildlife veterinary work? I talked to the state of Idaho's wildlife vet for Idaho Fish and Game, and he said there are only 25 jobs in the nation similar to his and 8 more at USGS, which seems like pretty low odds in any given year that any of them are retiring and getting re-hired (although, I have seen more and more jobs posted over the years, so perhaps those numbers are increasing). After his summary of opportunities, I canned the idea of going into wildlife vet work. But I still really want to do it, I just don't see the job prospects post-graduation!

Any more ideas of how people have been able to secure jobs would be welcome! Also, any ideas on their pre-vet school experiences, connections, or focus would be welcome!
Solely wildlife? Low success rate. There just aren't any jobs, and the jobs that exist now are held (for the most part) by the vets who forged their own paths and got themselves hired on as the state wildlife vet. I also would consider the political aspect of working as a government wildlife vet given the current state of things. We may start seeing fewer jobs +/- cuts in the coming years.

Also, tbh, a state wildlife vet job is like 80-90% desk work...

Keep in mind you can be any kind of vet and still volunteer a day or whatever a month to a nearby rehab center to help them with procedures, diagnostics, etc.
 
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cowgirl92

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Also, tbh, a state wildlife vet job is like 80-90% desk work...
Or dead things. My husband is a wildlife biologist and I know the wildlife vets in my state. They do about 3 fun things a year on live animals and the rest of the time its dead things and desks.
 
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DVMDream

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Or dead things. My husband is a wildlife biologist and I know the wildlife vets in my state. They do about 3 fun things a year on live animals and the rest of the time its dead things and desks.

Dead things and desks sounds more appealing than live things and clients at this point.
 
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