We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Become a Veterinary Specialist?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated Feb 06, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A veterinary specialist is a licensed veterinarian with additional training either in a specific area of animal medicine or with a specific species of animal. In the United States, there are 20 specialty organizations recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association, including those for specialists in radiology, pathology, emergency medicine and other areas. To become a veterinary specialist, completion of veterinary school is required, followed by further study and usually internships and residencies in the specialty area. Examinations to achieve board certification in the specialty area also normally are required.

Gaining acceptance into veterinary school can be difficult. Exhibiting a high level of achievement in pre-veterinary courses and other courses during your undergraduate study will help you become accepted to a school and, ultimately, to become a veterinary specialist. Interning, volunteering or working with animals in a job, such as that of a veterinary assistant or aide, can help put you in front of the competition as you seek admission to a school. Letters of recommendation from professors and job supervisors also are expected as part of the admissions process, and most veterinary schools require admissions tests.

During veterinary school, you can get experience in different specialty areas by performing externships. Externships typically are short programs that will give you some experience in the specialty profession and help you decide in which area you wish to become a veterinary specialist. If you are interested in working with non-domestic animals, for example, you can gain experience by applying for externships at zoos and other facilities that have wild animal collections.

After you have completed veterinary school, taken your board exams and become licensed as a doctor of veterinary medicine, you have a couple of options in order to become a veterinary specialist. You can either go into practice and get some experience as a veterinarian or apply to a veterinary specialty program right away. Requirements for admission into veterinary specialty programs will vary, but strong grades in veterinary school and prior experience in the specialty area or with the animal species generally are required.

Specialty veterinary education usually involves completing a rigorous residency training program that has been approved by the governing specialty organization. Requirements and length of training varies between specialty programs. After training is completed, credentialing might involve peer reviews of your published research works, your résumé and background, your letters of recommendation and other items, followed by board testing. After you have successfully completed your board testing, you will be recognized as a specialist in your veterinary discipline.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.