Veterinarian Certification and Licensing

Veterinarians have credentials much like medical doctors do. They are always licensed, and frequently board certified as well. Although veterinarians are licensed through a particular state or municipality, the process is much the same throughout the United States.

Become a Veterinarian…

Veterinarian Resources

Veterinarians complete doctorate level training programs and take a series of examinations. The first is the Qualifying Examination, which tests knowledge of anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pathology, and pharmacology.

Next comes a 360 question licensing exam. The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) is used throughout the continent. There are two testing windows each year, one in the spring and one in the late fall. Candidates are eligible to take the exam once they reach the final eight months of their veterinary program. They must submit two applications, one to the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and one to the state in which they are pursuing licensing. The NBVME offers several resources to exist in exam preparation. Graduates of foreign colleges typically also take the Veterinary Clinical Skills Assessment, a two-day exam which tests practical skills. States generally also have an exam that is specific to their jurisdiction. Veterinary students will want to visit the site of their own state board.

Many veterinarians pursue board certification. The American Veterinary Medical Association lists fully twenty specialty boards. Some specialty certifications focus on particular body systems. Veterinarians can specialize in radiology, dermatology, or veterinary dental medicine. Others focus on a type of animal. Veterinarians can be experts in caring for dogs, cats, horses, dairy, or beef cattle. It is also possible to specialize in emergency care or sports medicine and rehabilitation.

Veterinarians can expect to complete continuing education units during each renewal period. The number will vary somewhat by jurisdiction.