How to Become a Veterinary Pathologist in the US

Vet clinic

Veterinary pathologists are scientists who study animal diseases. They play a crucial role in protecting animals from unexpected outbreaks of animal epidemic diseases, as well as enhancing the conservation of endangered animals. If you have a solid background in biology and prepared to spend several years in college before qualifying for employment, this could be the career for you.

What do veterinary pathologists do?

Excited about this job already? Take a look at the typical duties of veterinary pathologists:

  • Analyzing animal tissues and organs to diagnose infections
  • Studying and monitoring the causes of various animal diseases
  • Collaborating with pharmaceutical scientists to develop medicines for animal diseases
  • Researching new ways to improve animal health and prevent diseases
  • Educating the public on how to avoid contracting diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans
  • Instructing students pursuing animal science courses in higher learning institutions.

It is important to note veterinary pathologists may choose to specialize in studying diseases that affect specific categories of animals, such as pets, livestock or wildlife.

Work environment

Veterinary pathologists typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Although these scientist have offices, they often spend their time in laboratories, where they conduct experiments. They can also be found in zoos, parks and other animal habitats.


How much do veterinary pathologists earn in a year? Find out below:


Average annual wage

Starting veterinary pathologist

$57,120 – $85,680

Experienced pathologist

$69,360 - $104,040

Senior pathologist

Up to $122,400

Source: Healthcare Salaries

Entry requirements

To qualify for employment as a veterinary pathologist, you must complete the following steps:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in any science, preferably animal science or veterinary education –With this credential you can practice as a laboratory technician or animal caretaker in veterinary labs
  • Go to medical school and pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program
  • Obtain a license from your state’s veterinary medical board – This will enable you to practice as a veterinarian
  • Pursue a residency program in veterinary pathology – You could choose to specialize in either clinical or anatomical pathology

After completing the residency program, you will be ready to find a job. Although not a mandatory employment requirement, you can obtain a certification from the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) to demonstrate your professional competence and enhance your chances of getting hired.

Important qualities

Veterinary pathologists must possess the following skills and abilities:

  • Research skills
  • Practical and technical skills
  • An interest in enhancing animal healthcare
  • Digital imaging skills and the ability to recall visual patters
  • An inquisitive mind
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Report writing and presentation skills

Career development

As an ambitious veterinary pathologist, you can pursue a doctoral degree in veterinary pathology. This will not only improve your knowledge of advanced treatment methods, but also heighten your career advancement prospects. Some of the popular universities offering this credential include:

  • University of Georgia, Georgia
  • Colorado State University, Colorado
  • Iowa State University, Iowa

You can also join the ACVP as a member to access other professional development resources, such as conferences.

Besides, you should also focus on publishing your research findings in scholarly journals to add to your professional reputation.

Job opportunities

The employers of veterinary pathologists include:

  • Diagnostic laboratories
  • Veterinary hospitals
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Research laboratories
  • Government agencies

With research experience and a doctorate, you can be hired as a senior researcher or university professor.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary medicine is steadily advancing. As a result, there will be more employment opportunities in the fields of disease control and animal safety. To make this career even more promising, the bureau predicts a 20 percent job growth for all health diagnosing professionals.

So if you are passionate about animals, then maybe this is the perfect career for you.