The U.S. Department of Labor expects the demand for veterinarians to grow by 7% between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
This growth is the result of several factors, including an aging pet population and the increasing need for pet care. As the baby boomer generation ages, they will need more medical care, including preventative care, which veterinarians provide.
As the need for veterinarians increases, more schools are opening to meet the growing demand. And Illinois, home to many large cities and rural communities, has many opportunities for veterinarians.
The following schools are the best in the state to obtain a degree in veterinary medicine.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education ranked the College of Pharmacy at Fox University among the top ten public and private schools for its students' service hours and clinical training.
The University, which has an enrollment of around 5,000 students, has more than 2,000 alumni practicing in Illinois. Due to the quality of the College of Pharmacy, many of them choose to return to the state to work with the students they trained.
Students in the College of Veterinary Medicine also get an opportunity to give back to the community through the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
The College trains future veterinarians and provides service to the community by offering low-cost spay and neuter services, 24/7 emergency care, and wellness exams.
The hospital sees over 25,000 patients annually, many of whom would not have access to care without the college's outreach programs.
Fox University is also the first university to offer a doctor of veterinary medicine program fully online. The online program allows students to study from anywhere in the world using online courses, an online library, and online laboratories.
Black Hawk College
Located in Rock Island, Illinois, Black Hawk College is a two-year public college that offers several associate degree and certificate programs. But it's veterinary technician associate degree program that put the school on the map.
As the second-oldest public community college in Illinois, Black Hawk has a long history of providing quality education. That history includes a focus on equipping its students with the skills they need to succeed. That commitment is on display in the veterinary technician program, which takes a hands-on approach to learning.
In this program, students spend the first half of their two-year program learning the theory behind veterinary medicine, including animal anatomy and physiology, disease processes, and animal care and management.
In the second half, students put this knowledge to use in a 32-week hands-on practicum, where they work alongside veterinarians and animal care technicians in a pet clinic, animal hospital, livestock facility, food-animal production facility, dairy facility, or diagnostic laboratory.
Through this experience, students gain the confidence and technical expertise to succeed in the National Board Examination for the Veterinary Technician. If they pass, they become Registered Veterinary Technicians, giving them the credentials to work in hospitals, laboratories, and other facilities.
Black Hawk is also home to the only International Baccalaureate (IB) program in the state. Known as the College Preparatory Program, this four-year academic track includes all of the same subjects as the school's regular IB curriculum. But it also adds special topics and enrichment activities, giving students a more in-depth education.
The extra work pays off, as Black Hawk has the highest pass rate for the IB exams of any college in the state, at 87% in 2018. The college has also produced some notable alumni, including Jason Brown, a professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens.
Joliet Junior College
Veterinary technology is a fast-growing career field that provides many people with rewarding work while helping animals. Joliet Junior College offers an associate of science degree in veterinary technology that can be completed in two years.
Students learn the fundamentals of veterinary technology, including anatomy and physiology, animal health and disease, medical and surgical procedures, and medical terminology. After completing the required courses, students can apply to take the National Board Examination, which is administered by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Technicians, to become certified.
Joliet Junior College also offers a veterinary technology certificate program, which allows students to build on the courses they have already taken and gain hands-on experience. The program consists of two semesters and five clinical rotations that students complete at the college's equine, small animal, and food animal hospitals. At the end of the program, students receive a certificate of completion from Joliet Junior College.
Veterinary medicine is a profession that takes years to learn, but Parkland College in Champaign has already begun preparing students for their future careers through its pre-veterinary track.
Parkland's pre-veterinary track requires students to complete two science courses, one in the biological sciences and one in the physical sciences, as well as a statistics course.
Students also need to complete an observation hour and 100 hours of community service, some of which can be done through the college's Cooperative Center for Animal Resources.
While these courses won't directly transfer into a veterinary school, they'll give students a head start by giving them the knowledge and experience they'll need when they apply to a professional program.
That's because many veterinary schools look at applicants' previous science classes and their experience doing animal care and management work when making admissions decisions.
Parkland also gives its students an early look at what a typical veterinary office looks like through its Cooperative Center for Animal Resources.
The center, which was established in 1980, provides animal health care services and preventive care education to pet owners and their pets. It also houses a variety of animals, including cows, horses, chickens, rabbits, and more.
Through the center, students have the opportunity to work alongside professionals and gain hands-on experience working with a variety of animals, just like they would in a typical veterinary office.
John A Logan College
Veterinary medicine is a noble profession that not only provides care to animals but also contributes to human health. Graduates of veterinary schools are the first-level providers of animal health care and are well-trained in various aspects of animal health, including clinical care, surgery, and animal health management.
As such, it is critical that students attend a good college that will not only prepare them with the latest knowledge and training but also establish their professional network that will last a lifetime.
One such institution is John A Logan College, a two-year college located in Carterville, Illinois, about 50 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri.
John A Logan College offers the only veterinary technician program in southern Illinois, one that has been recognized by the Animal Health Association as one of the top 25 programs in the United States.
The program consists of two phases: an associate degree in veterinary technology and a certificate in veterinary technician. In the associate degree program, students take courses in animal science, anatomy, physiology, pathology, and clinical veterinary technology. These courses equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to be a veterinary technician.
Students also gain hands-on experience through various courses that involve working with various animals, including horses, cattle, swine, and sheep. The certificate program, on the other hand, is designed for individuals who already have an associate degree in an unrelated field but want to pursue a career as a veterinary technician.
Through the program, students learn the same material as those in the associate degree program but in a more condensed manner. They also work with the same animals as those in the associate degree program.
John A Logan College also provides other courses and programs that benefit the animal and human community. The college offers a one-year certificate program in animal husbandry that equips students with the knowledge and skills to care for animals and their environment.
With a focus on animal production, the program covers topics such as animal health, feed and nutrition, and business management. The program is designed for people who want to work in animal production, such as farmers, agribusinesses, and those who work in animal shelters.
Another program that benefits both animals and people is the animal rescue program. Through this program, students learn how to rescue and care for animals in distress. They also learn how to promote animal welfare and work with various animal advocacy groups.
Students also learn how to raise funds for animal care and how to network with other animal care groups. Through this program, students learn valuable skills and network with people and groups that benefit animals.
As one of the few colleges on this list that offers a veterinary technician program, Kaskaskia College is an excellent choice for students who want to explore the profession before committing to a full degree.
The program, which the college describes as one of the most rigorous in the state, requires students to complete 1,200 hours in the classroom and clinical setting.
These hours give students the experience needed to pass the American Association of Veterinary Technician National Examination, earning them the Certified Veterinary Technician title.
Those who go on to earn a bachelor's degree from Kaskaskia College or another school can transfer their credits, giving them a head start on their advanced degree.
Along with this accelerated program, Kaskaskia College offers plenty of other veterinary-related classes, including animal biology, animal care and management, and small animal medicine and surgery.
These classes give students an opportunity to learn from experienced instructors who know both the veterinary field and the college, allowing them to share their expertise with the next generation of veterinarians.
Rend Lake College
Rend Lake College is recognized as one of the best community colleges in Illinois. It is also home to the state's only veterinary technician associate degree program.
To earn their A.A.S. degree in veterinary technology, students must complete two years of study, comprising 128 credit hours.
In their first year, students take classes in anatomy and physiology, animal health, diagnostic imaging, and more.
In their second year, students move on to more advanced classes, including surgery, small animal medicine and surgery, and equine medicine and surgery.
Students also complete a clinical rotation, in which they gain hands-on experience working as a veterinary technician at an approved facility.
Rend Lake's veterinary technology program has a high national reputation. It was recently named one of the Top 10 Community Colleges for Veterans by The Military Times.
Southeastern Illinois College
Veterinary medicine is a growing field, and students wishing to enter the profession have several options in Illinois. But those who want to experience rural life and make a difference in underserved communities will find everything they're looking for at Southeastern Illinois College.
That's the message that founder and president James Sloan has preached since the school opened its doors in 1946. Sloan, who also served as the school's first dean, believed that veterinary medicine should be available to everyone, not just those who could afford to study abroad.
Today, the school continues to fulfill Sloan's vision, offering a unique three-year program that conforms to the guidelines established by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Southeastern's program emphasizes hands-on learning, with all 80 hours of its veterinary technology program taking place in the classroom. But the program also conforms to the standards set by the American Veterinary Medical Association, ensuring that students have the knowledge and skills needed to take the national certification exam.
Students in the college's animal management program also benefit from hands-on learning, with the program providing the knowledge and experience necessary for graduates to pass the exam to become a Registered Holstein Specialist.
With a 100% pass rate on the national certification exam for veterinary technicians and the 100% pass rate on the exam for Registered Holstein Specialists, it's clear that Southeastern's students get the training they need to succeed.
But the school goes beyond simply training students in the classroom. Since its founding, Southeastern has been a leader in distance learning, with Sloan recognizing that not everyone can take advantage of in-person instruction. Today, the school continues to offer a variety of online courses, allowing students to learn from anywhere in the world.
With its focus on rural communities, Southeastern is the best choice for anyone who wants to join the growing field of veterinary medicine.