July 2, 2022

For Aspiring Vets It’s All About Pets, Not Public, Food or Research Jobs

It’s all about pets for aspiring vets these days. There aren’t enough veterinary students interested in public sector, food or research jobs, according to a new study published by the National Academies of Science.

Dog-and-CatOver 50 percent of veterinary students are interested in companion animal care. And, of those students, a significant percentage is  interested in specialty areas such as surgery, oncology, and orthopedic medicine, according to the report. As a result, many veterinary schools have focused their curricula on companion animal care, while other important subjects such as infectious diseases, public health, and environmental toxicology have taken a back seat.

Already, veterinary positions in the public sector are unfilled in important areas such as epidemiology, food safety, wildlife and ecosystem health, and public health, the report states.  And there isn’t a crush of students in the pipeline.

Overall, there isn’t a widespread shortage of veterinary students, but some key sectors don’t have enough well-qualified candidates, according to the report. Even when offering high salaries. Areas that face shortages include the industrial sector, which lacks enough candidates with advanced training in  biochemistry, toxicology, or pathology; the research sector, to produce faculty with grant-writing skills and the study of livestock.

The last area is of particular concern, according to the report. Growing demand for meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and other foods derived from animals is “putting stress on agricultural systems” and changed the kind of veterinary services required to care for livestock, poultry and swine.


  1. Erik Pegg says

    I used to work as a public health veterinarian for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. However, the long hours and lack of pay led me to take a job at a small animal emergency hospital. While I loved my job, I could make more money and spend more time with my family in private practice. The jobs (and the pay) just are not there!

  2. I’ll add my voice to the chorus. I’ve trained in epidemiology and public health leadership at the University of North Carolina and am currently working on my MPH. I’ve been desperate to get out of clinical practice for some time, but aside from the Food Safety Inspection Service, which has a chronic shortage, the jobs simply aren’t being advertised. If employers are so desperate to fill these sorts of positions, why aren’t they at least listing them with the AVMA job service?

  3. I graduated from vet school last year and went to school particularly for research or public health with a focus on food animal. I spent over a year looking for jobs in any of those fields before I had to settle for the only thing available, small animal practice. My classmates had similar problems. The positions open at the time wanted experience, now there is not anything open.
    I am tired of reading these articles, so where are these positions?

  4. Dr. Amata says

    As a new veterinarian I have seen first hand the lack of jobs; ANY jobs, especially those in the public sector. I am curious to know where these unfilled positions are and why they lack qualified candidates. The only time I have seen these types of jobs listed, it was only experienced specialst veterinarians need apply and they were not regular paid positions; many were on-call or as needed. The vet schools keep making vets every year. . . but where are the jobs?

    • Linda Larsen says

      The actual study may spell out the geographic locations of the jobs; it costs $63 to read the full study.

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