Veterinary doctors are one of the most sought-after allied healthcare professionals in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 86,300 employed vet doctors working in the U.S. (2021); this number is projected to increase by 19 percent (much faster than average) in 2031.
When you dig further, you will discover that these doctors are one of the highest-paid professionals in their hemisphere, hence this probably explains the high number of students trooping in to study veterinary medicine.
For many other vet doctors, the job satisfaction of working with animals to improve their quality of life fuels their commitment to this role. As a result, the number of vet schools in California, as a case study, exists in tens.
Are you currently searching for these veterinary schools in California?
In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know and do to set yourself up for a career in Veterinary Medicine; including the estimated salary of vet doctors, entry-to-practice requirements, and answers to questions you might have about this topic.
Overview of Vet Schools in California
Opting to study at a veterinary school in California is a good choice. Not just because it is a popular choice for international students; but the state also boasts of having one of the best vet schools in the United States, as well as some good statistics in the discipline.
Research findings show that there are four known schools in California offering a comprehensive program in Veterinary Medicine (both research and degree). Albeit, only two vet schools in California are listed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA).
In stark contrast, there are about 13 other vet tech schools in the same state. These include schools (colleges, polytechnics, and universities) that offer degree programs in Veterinary Technology or an Associate degree.
In terms of graduation rate, AMVA still reports that 3,000 students graduated from 30 accredited vet schools in the U.S. (now 33) in 2018 (the most recent census), 140 of which were estimated to come from UC Davis alone.
What this means for prospective students is that there are still lots of opportunities for those looking for a career in this profession; even better, vet schools are less competitive when compared to other allied healthcare programs like phlebotomy.
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Who is a Veterinarian?
A veterinarian is a doctor who treats animals. A veterinary specialist, also known as a veterinary doctor/surgeon, performs surgery, gives vaccinations, and performs other procedures on animals to help keep them healthy.
A veterinary nurse or animal health assistant works with the vet to care for their clients’ animals.
While a vet technician or “vet tech” is someone who has completed post-secondary education in animal health or vet technology but has not graduated from a Veterinary Medicine program.
They are trained to perform a wide array of tasks that includes supporting licensed veterinarians to diagnose and treat diseases in animals.
To explain further, these professionals play the role of “nurses” to animals; some of their duties extend to phlebotomy (in animals), patient advocates, lab technicians, etc. However, they are not trained to perform advanced surgical operations on animals, should the need arise.
Typically, vet techs have more clinical focus compared to veterinary nurses.
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How Do Vets Compare in the Medical Profession?
Studying in a vet school is a long, expensive process. It takes a lot of hard work. Once you are admitted to vet school, getting out takes even more hard work. While in vet school, you will be required to work very hard on your studies and projects (i.e., project-based learning).
The competition among veterinary schools is moderate; however, as with most other healthcare-related professions, there’s no such thing as an easy A or B grade. But it will impress you to know that these professionals are well-paid, and generally lead fulfilling careers.
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What are the Job Prospects for Vets in the United States?
If you’re interested in studying veterinary medicine and with a desire to work as a veterinarian in the U.S, then it’s important that you consider what state would be the best fit for your needs. In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there are 86,300 vet doctors working in the U.S. and projected this number to grow by 16 percent in 2031.
In a rapid turn of events, California has only 8,600 licensed veterinarians working in the state. When you consider California’s population of 39,185,605 people (May 2022), this number no longer becomes impressive. This means that only one veterinarian caters to about 4,557 people [in the state] probably in need of animal care for their pets.
The truth is, there are many areas throughout California where there aren’t enough vets to meet demand. This means that if you choose to go into this field of study then it will be easier than ever before for you to find employment after graduation from one of these programs.
Here is a breakdown of the future of employment for Veterinarians, Veterinarian Assistants, and Vet Techs:
|Licensed Workers (United States generally)||Registered Workers (base)||Projected Job Outlook (2030)||Change (%)||Average Annual Job Openings|
|Veterinary Assistants (including Animal Care Nurses)||107,200||122,500||15,300 (14%)||19,800|
|Veterinary Technologists or Technicians||114,400||131,500||17,100 (15%)||10,400|
Data compiled from: Projections Central
In California, this statistic becomes:
|Licensed Workers in California||Registered Workers (base)||Projected Job Outlook||Change (%)||Average Annual Job Openings|
|Veterinary Assistants (including Animal Care Nurses)||12,400||15,200||2,800 (23%)||2,480|
|Veterinary Technologists or Technicians||9,000||11,000||2,000 (22%)||910|
Data compiled from: Projections Central
As far as we can tell, the future for those looking to pursue a career in veterinary sciences is looking great; at least for the foreseeable decade.
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Becoming a Vet Doctor in California
Becoming a vet doctor in California is challenging, but it’s also fun and rewarding. You can get into vet school if you have the right qualifications, but it isn’t easy to do so. Vet school is expensive—especially if you have to travel long distances because your veterinary program isn’t located in or near your hometown.
Then there’s the time commitment: becoming a veterinarian may take up to 8 – 10 years after high school graduation, depending on the path you’re exploring. Here is the outlined path you should expect to follow to become a licensed vet:
- Enroll in a college and obtain an undergraduate degree. Vet schools in California usually require applicants to major in sciences like biology, or zoology. Most schools, however, only require you to complete a list of prerequisite courses regardless of what you major in.
- It is advisable to maintain a high GPA (like 3.5), and build relationships while in undergraduate school, as vet schools in California are highly selective and require letters of recommendation when you apply.
- You can choose to job shadow a licensed veterinarian. This is usually volunteer work to help you gain experience on a real job. You can work for vet hospitals or animal social causes under supervision.
- Next, apply to vet schools in California. All applications are done through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS); it’s like the Common App for vet prospective students.
- Enroll in a vet school in California like UC Davis and graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DMV) degree. This is a compulsory entry-to-practice degree requirement and it takes four additional years to complete.
- Pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) and get your practicing license. This usually costs a fee.
- Complete additional requirements like a specialty program, if you desire.
- Obtain your license to practice in California. You can apply for this via the State Board.
- Apply to veterinary job openings.
- Take continuing education classes to maintain your license.
How Much Do Vets Make in California?
Veterinarians are high-flyers when it comes to making money. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that they earn $100,370 on an annual average – making them one of the 20 top-earning health professionals, at least.
Another top resource and talent recruiter, Indeed, reports that vets earn $113,897 per year in the U.S. So, it is safe to say that these professionals earn six figures. Moreover, these same professionals earn $123,611 per year in California – almost $10,000 more than the national average. Thus, California is one of the highest-paying states for vets to work in.
Other related animal-care professionals like the Veterinary Assistants and Veterinary Technician earn $40,074 and $37,738 respectively.
List of 15 Top Vet Schools in California
The following are accredited veterinary schools found in California:
1. University of California, Davis
About the school: UC Davis is a top-ranked research university with a global reputation for excellence in teaching and research. It is one of the public research universities in the state of California to be ranked among the top 150 universities (number 102) in the world.
About the program: The veterinary program at UC Davis was established in 1948 and has long been recognized as one of America’s best veterinary schools by U.S News & World Report, which since 1985 has consistently ranked it among its top 10 programs every year.
The school currently has 600 students enrolled in its veterinary medicine program. Students who go on to complete this program earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree that enables them to practice.
However, like most other vet schools in the U.S., students who apply to this program must demonstrate excellent academic abilities to gain admission; thus a GPA of above 3.5 is considered competitive.
Tuition: $11,700 for domestic students and $12,245 for non-resident students per year. However, this fee varies in the years of study. You can view their tuition page.
2. Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona
About the school: Western University of Health Sciences is a health professions school located in Pomona, California, and Lebanon. WesternU is a private non-profit medical and health professions university that confers degrees in health-related niches.
Its College of Veterinary Medicine is notorious for being a highly selective vet school; it accepts only an estimated 5 percent of candidates who apply each year. Additionally, it is one of only two vet schools in California (with Uc Davis) that offer a DVM program.
About the program: Candidates who intend to apply to a DVM program at WesternU should bear in mind that it is a 4-year program. Prospective students also must complete a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, SAT or ACT scores (conditional), official high school transcripts and proof that they’ve completed all necessary prerequisites before applying to this school.
Tuition: $55,575 per year; excluding other study-related costs. View tuition page.
The following schools offer research-based (usually postgraduate) veterinary programs in California. They are:
3. Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford
About the school: Stanford University School of Medicine is one of the best schools in the country and has a great reputation. It’s also a prestigious school that attracts top students from all over the world.
The facilities are excellent, and it has an ideal location near Silicon Valley. Students will learn from professors who are famous in their fields and have worked at some of the top hospitals in California and around the country.
About the program: Codenamed the “NIH-Funded Research Training for Veterinarians,” Stanford provides a program for students who invariably want to make the most of their veterinary career. Suitable candidates who are already working as veterinarians or are in their 4th (final) year in any accredited U.S. vet school are invited.
In this program, postdoctoral students will be involved in biomedical research in various disciplines of Comparative Medicine that cover Cancer Biology and Animal Lab Science, among others. It is a great opportunity for students to become extremely knowledgeable in the field.
4. University of California, San Diego
About the school: The University of California, San Diego is a public research university located in San Diego, California. Founded as part of the University of California system, it is one of the 10 largest universities in California and it currently serves 31,842 undergraduates and more than 7,000 graduate and medical students.
UC San Diego offers over 200 majors and 60 minors as well as several graduate and pre-professional programs. With an acceptance rate of 36.6 percent, UC San Diego qualifies as a moderately selective school.
About the program: UC San Diego offers advanced research training for veterinarians who have completed their DVM degree and want to take part in pioneering groundbreaking discoveries in animal medicine and care.
Tuition: Not made public.
Vet Tech Schools in California
Granted, not everybody will fancy the idea of becoming a veterinarian. Some may prefer to rather assist the “real doctors” in their jobs. If this is you, then there are a ton of vet tech schools in California that you can explore. Some of them offer two-year associate programs that you can take advantage of.
The following are vet tech schools in California:
5. San Joaquin Valley College, Visalia
About the school: San Joaquin Valley College is located in Visalia and offers a degree in veterinary technology. The school is widely considered the top choice destination for students who want to study Veterinary Technology.
About the program: The school offers an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology as well as a Certificate program in Veterinary Assistant Training. The former takes 19 months to complete while the latter can be completed in as little as nine months.
This program is deemed suitable for candidates who want to practice as vet techs who provide post-operational support to veterinary doctors.
Tuition: The fee varies, and is based on your selections. We estimated the tuition fee of an international student with no dependents to be $18,730 per year. You can estimate your fee too.
6. Pima Medical Institute, Chula Vista
About the school: Pima Medical Institute is a private for-profit college best known for its associate degree program in Veterinary Technology.
The school offers a number of other degrees, including an associate’s degree in veterinary technology, and a host of other allied health programs like Healthcare Administration and Respiratory Therapy.
About the program: Pima Medical Institute offers an associate degree program in Veterinary Technology. It takes approximately 18 months to complete and it is considered one of the best options for vet tech schools in California.
Tuition: $16,443 (estimated) per year.
7. Foothill College, Los Angeles
About the school: Foothill College is a community college located in Los Altos Hills, California. Established in 1957, Foothill College has an enrollment of 14,605 students (fall 2020) and offers 79 Associate degree programs, 1 Bachelor’s degree program, and 107 certificate programs.
About the program: The school is known for its strong health-based programs. In that stead, it offers an AMVA-CVTEA accredited Associate degree program in Veterinary Technology.
This program takes 2 years to complete and will set up students to become Veterinary Technicians or Assistants. The school currently has 35 students enrolled, and one major advantage of selecting this school for a vet tech program is its affordability.
Tuition: $5,500 (approximate cost of the program)
8. Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa
About the school: Santa Rosa Junior College is a community college in Santa Rosa, California. The school offers a Veterinary Technician certificate and not a degree. The certificate can be earned in combination (or separately) with other animal healthcare-based programs such as Animal Science and Animal Health Technology.
About the program: The Vet Tech program at SRJC consists of thirteen courses deeply rooted in animal care, including Veterinary Anatomy and Animal Disease Recognition. This program equips students with the experiential knowledge that they will need to succeed at the top as Veterinary Technicians.
Tuition: Not available.
9. Central Coast College, Salinas
About the school: Central Coast College was founded as a community college on the Central Coast. It has since grown as a decent alternative for students who want to study at cheaper schools that offer medical assisting programs and other allied health majors.
About the program: Central Coast College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Veterinary Technology that takes 84 weeks to complete (less than two years). It also offers certificate courses in veterinary assistantships that students may find useful.
In addition, CCC provides externships for its students to gain first-hand CPR and clinical experience that would come in handy on the job.
Tuition: $13,996 (estimated fee).
10. Mount San Antonio College, Walnut
About the school: This community college in Walnut, California offers a 2-year vet tech program that can lead to an associate’s degree; as well as other allied heath disciplines
About the program: Mount San Antonio College is another great school for vet techs. They offer a comprehensive Veterinary Technician program that takes 2 years to complete. Although the website stated that most of its students take a longer time.
The curriculum covers both theory and practical applications of veterinary medicine with courses like Introduction to Animal Science and Animal Health Sciences. Students also take part in field trips and shadowing opportunities at local animal hospitals during the program.
The selling point of this program is its flexible schedule that allows working-class students to participate in the coursework without hitches. Students may also be able to transfer to 4-year universities like Cal Poly Pomona or Cal Poly Luis Obispo as a result of the course schedule.
Tuition: $2,760 (in-state students) and $20,040 (out-of-state students) per year.
List of Other Vet Tech Schools in California
If you are still searching for other vet tech schools in California, here are five other amazing schools that we recommend:
|S/N||Vet Tech Schools in California||Programs||Tuition Fee|
|11||California State Poly University-Pomona||Bachelor in Animal Health Science||$7,438 (residents);
|12||Consumnes River College, Sacramento||Veterinary Technology||Estimated at $1,288 (residents); $9,760 (out-of-state)|
|13||Yuba College, Marysville||Veterinary Technology||$2,898 (CA residents); $13,860 (non-resident)|
|14||Carrington College (multiple locations)||Veterinary Technology (degree)
Veterinary Assisting (certificate)
|For vet tech, $14,760 for Year 1 & 2 each; $7,380 for Year 3.|
|15||Platt College, Los Angeles||Veterinary Technology||Estimated at $14,354 per year|
Popular FAQs About Vet Schools in California
How long is a vet school in California?
The length of time it takes to complete a veterinary degree varies, depending on the school and student. Generally speaking, however, the journey to becoming a vet should take eight years at least. This is because a doctoral degree is required to enable you practice. It will take you four years to go through an undergraduate degree and another four years to complete a DVM degree. Some students even opt for specialty programs, externships, and volunteerism which take longer.
What is the best college in California to study veterinary science?
The best college in California (and even the U.S) to study veterinary medicine/science is the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). It is the largest and best vet school in California. And it is also less expensive (by a mile) when compared to WesternU.
Which is harder to get into: Vet school or Medical school?
The estimated acceptance rate for medical schools in the United States is 5.5 percent; which is incredibly low. This means that, out of 100 students who apply to a medical program, less than 6 of them are accepted.
On the other hand, vet schools in the U.S. are estimated to accept 10 -15 percent of applicants into their programs. This is at least almost double the percentage of medical schools.
So, in this case, it is clear that medical schools are highly competitive and tougher than vet schools. Not to discredit veterinary schools, however, they also require you to work very hard academically.
Is becoming a vet worth it?
Becoming a vet is a lot of work. It’s expensive, competitive, and hard. But it’s also rewarding, fun, and worth it.
Veterinary medicine is an exciting field that has consistently been rated as one of the most satisfying careers for several years. For those animal-loving people who want to help animals or provide comfort to people and their pets, this may be the career for them.
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, there are many benefits and drawbacks to becoming a vet. For those who are passionate about animals and want to pursue a career that is rewarding both financially and personally, becoming a veterinarian is an option worth considering.
The best way to know if this career path is right for you is by talking with current veterinarians and learning about their day-to-day activities. If you’re interested in pursuing vet school but don’t know where to start, we’ve provided some helpful links below: