Many felons find it challenging to find a job after being released from prison. There are resources available even though felons may not believe they can find a job. Those who have hired felons have learned that they make good employees, but it might be in a different career from the one felons had previously.
This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a vet.
- What is a Veterinarian (Vet)?
- What Education/Training Does a Vet Need?
- How Much Does a Vet Earn?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Recommended Action
What is a Veterinarian (Vet)?
A veterinarian is a trained medical professional who cares for the health of animals. He or she diagnoses and treats medical conditions and diseases of pets and other animals.
A vet typically does the following:
- Examines animals to diagnose their health problems
- Treats and dresses wounds
- Performs surgery on animals
- Tests for and vaccinates against diseases
- Operates medical equipment, such as X-ray machines
- Advises animal owners about general care, medical conditions, and treatments
- Prescribes medications
- Euthanizes animals
A vet uses in-depth knowledge of biological, physical, and social science to diagnose, treat, and prevent animal diseases and help to maintain the quality of our environment. A veterinarian works with physicians and public health agencies to prevent and control diseases transmitted from animals to people.
A successful vet must have many skills, including:
- Compassion to treat animals with kindness
- Sensitivity when dealing with pet owners
- Communication skills to discuss recommendations and treatment options to animal owners
- Decision-making skills to decide the correct method for treating injuries and illnesses
- Manual dexterity to be precise when treating injuries and performing surgery
- Problem-solving skills to figure out an animal’s problem
- Diagnostic skills to test animals for medication reactions
- Dedication to the profession and a willingness to work long hours
What Education/Training Does a Vet Need?
Anyone who wants to become a vet must complete a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. There are currently 30 colleges accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in the United States.
A veterinary medicine program generally takes four years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.
Most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor’s degree, typically in a science-related field. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken science classes, including biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, zoology, microbiology, and animal science. Most programs also require math, humanities, and social science courses.
In veterinary medicine programs, students take courses on animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Most programs include three years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Students typically spend the final year of the program doing supervised clinical work in a veterinary medical center or hospital.
Formal experience, such as previous work with veterinarians or some area of health science, is particularly helpful. Less formal experience, such as working with animals on a farm, at a stable, or in an animal shelter, can also be helpful.
A vet must be licensed in order to practice in the United States. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require a prospective veterinarian to complete an accredited veterinary program and to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. A vet working for the state or federal government may not be required to have a state license, because each agency has different requirements.
Most states require the national exam and also a state exam that covers state laws and regulations. Few states accept licenses from other states, so a vet who wants to be licensed in another state usually must take that state’s exam.
How Much Does a Veterinarian Earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 79,600 practicing veterinarians in the U.S. This occupation is expected to show an 18% growth by 2026 which is well-above average. The reason for the increase in expected job opportunities is due to increases in pet-related expenses.
The median annual salary for vets was $88,770 in May 2016. The median wage is the salary at which half the vets earned more than that and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned around $52,470, and the highest 10 percent earned about $161,000.
Experience will make a difference in how much a veterinarian earns annually, as well as the type of practice they work for. Vets that work for laboratories and government agencies will typically earn significantly more than those who work on farm animals, for example.
The area of the country in which a vet works also makes a difference in their earnings. Those on the East or West coast typically earn more than a vet that works elsewhere.
An Opportunity for Felons?
A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. Approximately 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, although there is no standard policy regarding a background check. Any felon that wants to get a degree can find a college that will accept him or her.
The real challenge in becoming a vet is in obtaining a job after graduating. While requirements vary from state to state, all state regulations for vets prohibit certification to anyone convicted of a felony.
It is important to be honest in filling out an application for a job or when applying for certification as a vet. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.
In order to be successful as a vet, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already viewed with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.
Having their record expunged will give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a vet. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
It is a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to become a vet. Giving him or herself the best chance for success by having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference.
Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can also make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a vet with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.