Once you finish veterinary school, you must then pass a difficult national veterinary medical board exam called the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) to qualify for a license from the state veterinarian board. Once that exam is completed and you’ve passed, then you’ll need to pass a state board exam. Each state is different with their requirements, however, some states allow you to be eligible if you pass the state board exam in another state. It’s important to know, that majority of states do not allow you to use previous state board exam scores. Therefore, you must be positive of which state you want to practice in before testing begins. Most states also require students to pass a State jurisprudence exam that covers state laws and regulations. Some states even require additional testing on clinical competency.

All states require that veterinarians be licensed before practicing. Federal agencies and some state governments have exemptions for certain veterinarians, however most graduates do not find themselves in these types of employment opportunities immediately following graduation. Licensing is controlled by the State, however, most states require completions of degrees, exams and certifications that are done through the national boards.

Foreign Licensure

Foreign students who wish to practice in the United States may do so. According to the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates, certification can be granted to individuals who have been trained outside the United States. Candidates must meet specified requirements for the English language and clinical proficiency. The certification generally satisfies the educational requirement for licensure in all States.

The Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduate certification program has a simple, yet complicated 4-step process foreign students use to prove educational prerequisites for licensure. Briefly, the four steps are:

1. Enroll, provide proof of graduation and verify veterinary college credentials

2. Assess their English language ability

3. Assess the basic and clinical veterinary science knowledge

4. Assess the hands-on clinical veterinary medical skills

License Renewal

Annual license renewal forms are mailed to all licensed veterinarians on or before June 1st of each year. The forms are to be completed and received back by June 13th of each year. That gives the veterinarian 12 days to receive, complete and send back the renewal form, along with $60 for the annual license renewal fee. Renewals that are not received by the due date are assessed a late fee of 50% of the license fee, or $30.00.

Continuing Education for Licensure

Like with most professions, once you receive your license, your education is far from over. Generally most professions require a certain amount of continuing education credits in order to renew their licensure. Veterinarians must complete 24 hours of veterinary continuing education, approved by the board within 24 months preceding each even-year renewal date.

There is a waiver a license holder can obtain to waive continuing education requirements. These reasons include impaired health, a person who has reached the age of 65 and are no longer engaged in practice and/or a good and sufficient reason that is presented and verified to the board at one of its regular meetings.