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NOC Code: NOC Code: 3114 Occupation: Veterinarians
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Veterinarians prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and disorders in animals and advise clients on the feeding, hygiene, housing and general care of animals. Veterinarians work in private practice or may be employed by animal clinics and laboratories, government or industry. Veterinarians prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and disorders in animals and advise clients on the feeding, hygiene, housing and general care of animals. Veterinarians work in private practice or may be employed by animal clinics and laboratories, government or industry.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3 4
Writing Writing 1 2 3 4 5
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3 4
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2 3
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3 4
Money Math Money Math 1 2
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2 3 4
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2 3
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3 4
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3 4
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3 4


  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.


Reading Text
  • Locate specific information about clinical uses, potential risks and side effects on the labels of medications and package inserts prior to administering them to animals. (1)
  • Read notes and comments in medical files to review observations, diagnoses and recommendations for treatment. Some files contain descriptive paragraphs to explain unusual health problems, give care instructions or express medical opinions. (2)
  • Review marketing material such as brochures, pamphlets and new product circulars to learn about new animal health products and paramedical supplies. (2)
  • Read referral letters which summarize case details and medical opinions of the referring veterinarians. (2)
  • Review legislation, regulations and notices published by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for information about the latest regulations for animal health, disease control and food safety. (3)
  • Read medical reference texts for information needed to diagnose uncommon diseases and identify recommended treatments. (4)
  • Read professional journals such as The Canadian Veterinary Journal and the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research to stay informed about new research, treatments and health management procedures. Determine the usefulness of all new information and its applicability to clinical practices and research initiatives. There is often an immediate application for what you read. (4)
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Writing
  • Write notes and comments in medical files to record observations, diagnoses, treatments and animals' medical histories. Write short, point-form sentences but sometimes include descriptive paragraphs to explain unusual health problems, give care instructions or express medical opinions. (2)
  • Write letters to a variety of clients, suppliers, and colleagues. For example, write letters to refer clients to other animal health specialists. In these letters, include a summary of animals' medical histories, presenting health issues, recommendations for treatment and reasons for referral. (2)
  • Write short inspection, disease investigation and case reports for government regulators. The reports use medical terminology to precisely describe problems and recommendations for disease control. (3)
  • Write information sheets and brochures to inform clients about animal health conditions and treatments, instructions for care, philosophies of practice and fee structures. For example, veterinarians may write information handouts to describe how clients should care for pets after surgery. (3)
  • Write articles about veterinary medicine and animal health for newspapers, newsletters, pet care magazines and other publications. When writing for a general audience, strive to explain medical procedures or concepts in laypersons' terms. For example, write articles for community newsletters on the importance of proper oral hygiene for pets. (4)
  • Publish research results in peer-reviewed journals such as the Canadian Veterinary Journal and Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research. Write articles which summarize the research intent, methodology, results and implications for animal health and veterinary medicine for a professional audience. For example, a veterinarian may write a journal article giving early clinical research results for a study into new sedation techniques for use with small mammals. (5)
  • Write animal health research proposals and final reports of up to fifty pages in length. These research reports include summaries, literature reviews, research objectives, methodologies, results and discussions. They are usually written at the same standards for peer-reviewed scientific journals. (5)
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Document Use
  • Enter medications, animal and client names, quantities, dosages, instructions and other information on prescription labels or forms. (1)
  • Scan labels on medication for dosages, expiry dates and other data. (1)
  • Read and interpret laboratory reports for blood, urine, feces, semen and tissue tests. Some laboratory reports such as tests for hemoglobin illustrate results using graphs, while others present data in list format. (2)
  • Complete lab requisition forms. You may check off tests you wish to order from sixty or more different testing procedures and animal-specific tests on larger requisitions. (2)
  • Enter animal identifiers, dates and times, medications drawn, and quantities administered or dispensed into pharmaceutical and anaesthetic logs. These logs must be precisely completed to comply with requirements for tracking narcotic and controlled drug dispositions. (2)
  • Refer to assembly drawings when disassembling or cleaning equipment such as the VetTest Chemistry Analyzer. (3)
  • Fill out medical and regulatory forms such as health certificates, research forms, examination records, anaesthesia records, pathology reports, vaccination records, behaviour case reports, urinalysis reports, culture submissions dental charts. On these forms, record animal identifiers, health statistics, observations, diagnoses, and recommended treatments. Health certificates for import or export of animals require legal authorization. Some forms contain sketches of animals on which veterinarians can mark affected areas. Veterinarians may also attach a digital photograph to identify animals by their markings or draw the markings on sketched outlines of frontal and side views. (3)
  • Interpret x-ray images to identify internal abnormalities such as blockages, inflammations, tumours and bone fractures. Some veterinarians, particularly specialists, may also use ultrasound, computer tomography and magnetic resonance images to identify medical conditions such as cancers, brain hemorrhages and strokes. (3)
  • Refer to pictures, diagrams and anatomical scale drawings of animals in medical reference materials. For example, compare observations of tissue or blood samples under microscopes to pictures in medical texts to identify abnormalities. (4)
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Computer Use
  • Use email programs to communicate with co-workers and colleagues, and to attach digital photographs, x-rays, laboratory results and medical records. (2)
  • Launch internet software and click on bookmarked sites for veterinary medicine to conduct searches of resource databases. Enter professional chat rooms or access listservs to locate specific medical information. (2)
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, insert flash drives into universal serial buss ports to download digital photographs of animals and radiographs onto the computer desktop. (2)
  • Use word processing software. For example, use basic formatting functions, such as bullets, font styles, cut and paste, and spell check to draft home-care instructions and research reports. (2)
  • Design slides for presentations to peer groups or community members. Customize slides by using different font styles and inserting headers, bullets, tables and graphs. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, set-up and modify budget categories or analyze research data using spreadsheet graphing tools. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, use specialized information management software to access, record, sort and store medical information about animals under your care and to prepare invoices for billing. (3)
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Oral Communication
  • Respond to questions from the general public about veterinary medicine and animal health. For example, veterinarians may answer questions about rabies either by telephone or in person. (1)
  • Provide direction to technologists, technicians and other staff under your supervision. Answer questions, resolve conflicts and delegate responsibilities for animal care. (2)
  • Ask pharmaceutical, food and nutrition, and equipment suppliers about new products on the market and check on the status of orders. (2)
  • Question clients about their animals' medical histories, observable symptoms and behaviours to gather information needed to diagnose illnesses. Advise clients on feeding, housing, grooming and cleaning pets. Tell clients how to implement animal treatment plans, modify problematic behaviours and administer medications in a clear, structured and comprehensive way. (2)
  • Lead weekly or monthly staff meetings. Review the health status of animals in your care, discuss administration, interpret policies and introduce new operating practices and procedures. (2)
  • Explain diagnoses and inspection results to clients by translating medical terminology into laypersons' terms. Recommend treatment options, discuss costs, and negotiate payment plans if required. Provide emotional support to clients when their animals are terminally ill and you have to recommend euthanasia. Under these circumstances, be empathetic, sensitive and tactful. (3)
  • Discuss diagnoses and treatment options for complex cases with veterinary specialists and colleagues. (3)
  • Interact with other veterinarians, regulators and public health officials in emergency situations such as reporting contagious diseases or discussing plans for biological containment. (3)
  • Respond to media requests for information and comments regarding animal health topics of interest to the general public such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Try to present facts that make the veterinary issues and opinions clear. (3)
  • Present information about veterinary medicine to community groups, schools, agricultural organizations and professional groups. The content, style and tone of these presentations are adapted to suit the expertise and backgrounds of the audiences. (4)
  • Facilitate group discussions among animal health professionals who are pursuing a co-ordinated approach to animal health research or complex disease investigations. Participate in discussions with other experts or lead meetings to discuss research outcomes, solutions and implementation strategies. For example, a veterinarian working for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency may discuss strategies for disease containment with other veterinarians and public health experts when a case of avian flu is discovered. (4)
  • Present information and research findings about new animal diseases, diagnostic methods, treatments, feedlot health management practices and preventative care to colleagues at professional seminars and conferences. For example, a veterinarian may present information about clinical research trials testing a new pharmaceutical drug for treating early onset of diabetes in cats. Oral communication at this level is complex, technical in nature, and uses medical terminology geared for informed audiences. (4)
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Money Math
  • Prepare invoices for veterinary services rendered and collect payments from clients. Calculate service amounts based on established fees for veterinary services. Add amounts for laboratory test fees, supply costs, pet food and medications. (2)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Schedule routine inspections and patient appointments, allocating realistic amounts of time for physical examinations, inspections and surgical procedures. Veterinarians often reschedule appointments and adjust work schedules to accommodate health emergencies or cancellations. (2)
  • Establish treatment schedules for dispensing drugs and dietary supplements to sick animals based on recommended dosages and associated risks. (2)
  • Develop annual budgets. Allocate money to capital costs, operating expenses, leasing costs, insurance and paramedical supplies. Those working in private practice must also establish wage scales for staff members. Complete financial reporting for research projects. (3)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Weigh animals using various sized scales. If a handler has to hold the animal, the handler's weight must be subtracted from the total weight to find the weight of the animal. (2)
  • Use calibrated syringes to measure specified volumes of medications or anaesthetics. For example, measure specified amounts of avian tuberculin and bovine tuberculin to inject for tuberculosis skin tests. (2)
  • Calculate dosages of medications to administer during specific time periods using a rate based on an animal's weight. For example, a veterinarian calculates how much medication to give an animal every six hours based on a prescription of three cubic centimetres per kilogram per day. (3)
  • Measure animals' vital health functions during physical examinations and surgeries using medical diagnostic equipment such as stethoscopes, rectal thermometers, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, thermometers, electrocardiograms and respiratory monitors. (3)
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Data Analysis
  • Compare lab test results to values considered normal in order to diagnose and monitor medical conditions. For example, a high white blood cell count may indicate infection. (2)
  • Analyze vital signs such as heart and blood pressure rates during surgery and post-treatment to monitor animals' health. Compare vital sign readings to one another and watch for values that move outside normal ranges, indicating possible distress or infection. (3)
  • Analyze nutritional intake and changes in body weight over time to determine if you should change animals' diets. (3)
  • Collect and analyze quantitative data for animal health research and food production management. Generate statistics for variables such as milk production, animal weights, growth rates, food consumption, animal longevity, medical conditions and drug costs in order to draw conclusions. Veterinarians compare current statistics to historical data in order to track changes over time. (4)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the weights of large animals such as horses, cattle and elephants using veterinary methods and experience. (1)
  • Estimate recovery times for animals according to species, age, medical histories, vital signs, and initial responses to treatments. (2)
  • Estimate costs for diagnoses and treatments of animals based on your understanding of the animals' presenting problems, and associated fees for veterinary services, laboratory tests and clinical supplies. Veterinarians rely on previous experience with similar cases to estimate costs. Estimates need to be relatively accurate so that clients can make decisions about affordable treatment options. (2)
  • Estimate gestational progress based on manual examinations of animals' uterus sizes and knowledge of their fertility cycles. (2)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Veterinarians in private clinics are responsible for their own business planning. Those who work in larger organizations, such as hospitals, government, research facilities and zoos, may participate in discussions about business goals and new initiatives. (3)
  • Veterinarians direct the activities of veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians and administrative support staff. They create staff schedules for diagnostic procedures, surgeries, treatments, and general care of boarded animals. (3)
  • Veterinarians organize their daily activities around scheduled appointments with clients and emergency calls for their services. Routine tasks such as vaccinations and surgeries are scheduled in advance by administrative staff; however, emergencies will cause changes to the schedule. They maintain close contact with co-workers to reschedule appointments and coordinate with veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians if they require assistance. Veterinarians who work with large animals travel extensively to provide services in rural areas. They must plan their site visits carefully to minimize travel time and maximize productivity. Veterinarians working in laboratories organize their work according to incoming requests for testing so their workloads are often dependent upon the incidence of diseases. (3)
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Decision Making
  • Make decisions about purchasing expensive new diagnostic or laboratory equipment such as ultrasound electrocardiogram or VetTest machines. Consider the cost, frequency of use, benefit to clients and return on investment for all large capital purchases. (2)
  • Make decisions about modifying animals' diets and general care based on the animals' ages, weights, temperaments and overall health status. (2)
  • Decide which laboratory tests to administer or order based on animals' symptoms, medical histories and information from clients. (2)
  • Decide whether to release animals from quarantine. Consider the animals' health, the risk to the general public and Canadian Food Inspection Agency guidelines. (2)
  • Determine if animals meet requirements for import and export certification based on inspections of their health and accompanying documents. Veterinarians review animals' documents to ensure they are in proper order and then inspect the animals to determine that they are in good health and fit to travel. Prior to certification, veterinarians may also inspect the herd of origin and the animals' living conditions to ensure all regulations have been followed. (3)
  • Determine which treatments or procedures, including euthanasia, to recommend for sick or injured animals. Base decisions on the animals' medical conditions, disease diagnoses, prognoses, risks to other animals, treatment costs and your own medical knowledge and experience. First try altering diets or giving medications and only proceed to more interventionist approaches like surgery when absolutely necessary. However, an ineffective treatment can delay progress and bring further harm to animals. (3)
  • Make critical decisions in emergency situations about what tests to order, which surgical procedures to undertake, and in what sequence interventions should be introduced. When surgeries or births go badly or when contagious diseases break out, make decisions quickly and prioritize tasks. The context can be chaotic and there is often no time to consult references or seek second opinions. Errors in judgment are not easily reversed and can have fatal consequences for animals. (4)
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Problem Solving
  • Face shortages in medical supplies. Ask staff members to confirm estimated arrival times from suppliers, and if the supplies are not going to be available when needed, ask that appointments requiring those supplies be rescheduled. (2)
  • Treat animals belonging to clients who cannot afford the treatments. Search for alternative treatments that may be less costly and negotiate payment plans that are financially manageable for clients. (2)
  • Clients are reluctant to euthanize animals that are terminally ill or that pose health risks to other animals because of contagious diseases. Counsel the owners or keepers on the realities of the situations and persuade them to authorize euthanasia procedures. Euthanasia can be upsetting to owners and keepers so veterinarians usually approach the discussions with diplomacy and empathy. (3)
  • Discover that owners or keepers are not administering medications to their animals properly. As a result, animals are not receiving full dosages and are not improving as expected. Veterinarians talk with owners to emphasize the importance of implementing treatment plans as directed and offer retraining. (3)
  • Medical equipment is unavailable for performing veterinary procedures on very large animals. Veterinarians adapt common tools and existing equipment from other professions to complete their work. For example, in zoo settings, they use truck scales to weigh elephants or common hand drills to complete root canals on elephant tusks. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Look up information about animals' medical histories by accessing case files through computer databases or paper filing systems. (1)
  • Seek information about animals' physical conditions and behaviours by speaking with their owners or keepers. (1)
  • Consult veterinary specialists and colleagues when seeking professional advice and textbooks and on-line resources for information about uncommon or specialty areas of veterinary medicine. (2)
  • Search veterinary medicine journals and publications to find new information about disease diagnoses, control and treatment of animals that can be applied to your own clinical or research work. (3)
  • Conduct trial research to find new treatments for animal disease or means to improve feedlot health and productivity. Draw on information from previous research and analyze test results to generate new conclusions and medical solutions that can be applied to the practice. (4)
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Critical Thinking
  • Diagnose animal diseases and causes of death by analyzing health records, results of physical examinations, laboratory tests, and diagnostic images such as radiographs and sonographs. Inspect animals to detect obvious signs of diseases such as anatomical abnormalities, lesions or growths, and observe their movements, behaviour and responses to touch. For necropsy examinations, analyze the health of organs and tissues based on size, shape, colour, consistency and distribution. In disease investigations, analyze animals' living conditions, and compare test results for diseased animals to surrounding herds to assess the spread of disease. In some cases, consult veterinary reference materials and other veterinarians before making final diagnoses. (3)
  • Evaluate the health status of animals for preventative care or inspection purposes. Veterinarians assess multiple factors including animals' weights; states of alertness; diets; hygiene; and physical measurements such as temperatures, heart rates and blood pressures. Veterinarians working with large animals or zoo animals, evaluate the animals' enclosures for cleanliness, noise levels, and availability of exercise space. Veterinarians also review the animals' medical records to assess changes in health. All information is synthesized into health reports with recommendations for changes to animals' living conditions, diet and exercise regimes. (3)
  • Assess the effectiveness of prescribed animal treatments by comparing diagnostic test results over time and cross-referencing data with similar cases. Consider observations from owners or keepers who have monitored changes in the animals' health and rely on veterinary knowledge and experience to make adjustments to treatment plans as required. (3)
  • Analyze outcomes of animal health research trials to identify significant trends that will aid in preventative health care and treatment of animals. Analyze results from physical examinations and laboratory tests on test animals, and look for correlations in the data around factors such as animal species, sex, weight, age, diet, medical history, and response to medications and vaccinations. Compare findings to existing veterinary research, and formulate conclusions and recommendations for disease control, animal health management and preventative care. (4)
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