Career Map: Veterinarian
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This document was updated in May 2011. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the College of Veterinarians of Ontario before completing your application.
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, © 2011. This Info Sheet may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the Info Sheet by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this Info Sheet requires a written license from the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.
To practise veterinary medicine in Ontario you must obtain a licence from the College of Veterinarians of Ontario ( CVO). The CVO sets all licensing requirements for veterinarians under the Veterinarians Act of 1989 and Ontario Regulation 1093. Veterinarians in Ontario work in private practices (animal clinics), laboratories, zoos, conservation areas and reserves, government and industry.
You cannot practise veterinary medicine or call yourself a veterinarian without a licence, but you can help a veterinarian as a veterinary assistant or technician. A veterinary assistant or technician must work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) offers Associate membership to those who have graduated from a technical school not approved by the Board of Directors of the OAVT or have been self-educated. For more information on becoming a veterinary assistant or technician contact the OAVT (see address at the end of the document).
Before You Immigrate to Canada
Before you come to Canada, you may contact the National Examining Board (NEB) of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) for an application form and the Information for Applicants booklet, available in English or French. These items are available electronically as .pdf files via e-mail. If you wish to receive a hard copy of the form and booklet, you must send $15 Canadian for this information by certified cheque or money order payable to the NEB, or provide a MasterCard or Visa number and expiry date.
The NEB is responsible for the national veterinary medicine examinations in Canada. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is a national association, not a licensing body. The Information for Applicants booklet provides detailed information regarding the NEB exams, policies and procedures. Completion of the NEB exams is a prerequisite to be eligible to apply for a general license from any provincial veterinary licensing board in Canada. The NEB address is at the end of this information.
The application process to get licensed in Ontario, including the writing of the 2 computerized exams and the clinical proficiency exam, takes more than two years to complete. In order to complete this process quickly, send your documents to the National Examining Board (see Step 1 information) before you leave for Canada. The National Examining Board will evaluate your documents and, if they approve your application, they will inform you where and when you may register for and take the national veterinary medicine examinations. You must begin the examination process within two years of the date you were informed of your eligibility to write them. You have to complete the exams within a five year period. If you cannot do so, you will have to reapply and pay the fees again.
When You Arrive in Ontario
If you have not done so already, write to the National Examining Board and request the Information for Applicants booklet (see Before You Immigrate to Canada information). If you did not send your documents to the National Examining Board before you arrived in Canada, send them when you arrive.
The National Examining Board will evaluate your documents and, if they approve your application, they will inform you where and when you may register for and take the national veterinary medicine examinations. After you pass the NEB exams, you can apply to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario for your licence to practise veterinary medicine in Ontario.
Licence Application Process
Step 1 - Review and Evaluation of Documents by the National Examining Board
The National Examining Board reviews and evaluates all applications. You can send your documents to the National Examining Board from overseas.
The National Examining Board accepts copies of your documents, but they must be notarised or certified by a Notary Public or Commissioner for Oaths or Affidavits. If these documents are not in English or French, it is necessary to provide certified translations.
Before you are considered for the exams, the National Examining Board must receive all of the following documents. If you do not send all of the items on the list, your application will be incomplete and will not be accepted. Try to send all the information together. If this is not possible, attach a letter explaining that some of the information will be coming soon.
- A completed application form obtained from the NEB
- An original, notarised or certified copy of your veterinary degree
- A notarised or certified translation of your degree (if not in English)
- An original, notarised of certified copy of the academic transcript of courses taken for your veterinary degree
- Proof of proficiency in English or French
- Two letters of recommendation - one from a licensing body and one from a responsible citizen (for example, veterinarian, member of the clergy, bank manager or government official)
- Three recent passport size photographs (taken within 6 months)
- A notarised or certified photocopy of your birth certificate, passport or other government-issued piece of identification
- NEB application fee
If you do not pass the NEB exams but you have a diploma from a recognized school and extraordinary educational qualifications in a speciality field of veterinary medicine, for example, certification recognition (Diplomate status) in a specialty from the Board of the American Veterinarian Medical Association, you may request that the CVO Registration Committee review your application. CVO will evaluate your documents and may consider you for a licence with restrictions.
Step 2 – NEB Examination Process:
The NEB’s veterinary licensing examination process for graduates of non-accredited veterinary schools involves:
- the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE);
- the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE®);
- the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE).
The NEB Examination is a three-part process measuring entry-level competence in the theory and practice of veterinary medicine in a North American context. Graduates of a non-accredited veterinary school must complete all three parts in order to be granted a CQ. A graduate of an accredited college of veterinary medicine need only pass the NAVLE® within two attempts in order to receive a CQ. However, if such a candidate requires more than two attempts to complete the NAVLE®, they will also be required to complete the CPE in order to obtain a CQ.
All veterinary schools in Canada and the USA are currently accredited, as are those of the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands (graduates from 1973 onward), the Universities of London (graduates from 1999 onward), Glasgow (from 1999) and Edinburgh (from 2001) in the United Kingdom, Massey University in New Zealand (from 2001), Murdoch University (from 2002), the Universities of Sydney (from 2005) and Melbourne (from 2006) in Australia, as well as University College Dublin in Ireland (2007).
The Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE) is designed to assess basic and clinical veterinary sciences knowledge. The knowledge level expected to receive a passing score on the BCSE is that of an entry-level veterinarian (i.e., a new graduate of an accredited veterinary school). The knowledge being assessed on the exam is that which one would typically acquire during the first years of a veterinary degree program at an accredited school. The computer-based BCSE consists of 225 multiple-choice questions, many with graphics, which must be completed within a 220-minute test session. In addition, the four-hour testing appointment will include a brief tutorial to introduce you to computer-based testing and an exit evaluation at the end. The BCSE must be completed first, before being eligible to proceed to the NAVLE® or the CPE.
The BCSE is available four times per year during testing windows. Each test window will comprise a one- or two-week period during which testing appointments may be scheduled. The exam is administered at Prometric Inc.TM test centres throughout Canada and the USA, as well as several overseas. Please go online at www.prometric.com to view the list of test centres available to you for the BCSE.
The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE®) comprises 360 multiple choice questions, which are administered one at a time by computer. About 10 percent of the questions will include relevant graphic or pictorial information (photograph, radiograph, chart, etc.). This exam is designed to measure one’s general knowledge base in the various scientific and clinical disciplines required in veterinary medicine, as they apply to private clinical practice of the profession in North America. The NAVLE® requires one full day to complete.
The NAVLE® is offered during a two-week testing window in April and a four-week testing window from mid-November to mid- December of each year. The NAVLE is administered at Pometric test centers (PTCs) in Canada, the United States and U.S. Territories, and at selected PTCs in 13 testing regions overseas, as listed on the NAVLE registration form. There is an additional fee for overseas testing outside North America. Locations of PTCs available for the NAVLE can be found at the Prometric website (www.prometric.com). Select the “National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners” in one of the drop-down lists on the Prometric home page to search for test center locations for the NAVLE.
The Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE) is a practical examination of the candidate’s medical and surgical skills. It is designed to assess the candidate’s ability to handle actual medical, surgical and diagnostic problems in a clinical or hospital setting. The CPE requires is typically administered over a three to five days and involves the examination/treatment of live animals and the performance of routine laboratory procedures.
The CPE is available several times per year in English, at Canadian colleges of veterinary medicine. The CPE is available in French only at the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire (St-Hyacinthe, Québec) usually two (2) times a year. Candidates eligible to take the CPE will be informed by the NEB as to when they may register. Please note that, currently the waiting period between passing the NAVLE and the date of an opportunity to appear for the CPE that the NEB is able to offer is at least 24 months on average.
All three examinations may be taken in either English or French. Examination fees are payable at the time of registration for each examination.
Candidates who successfully complete the NEB examination process are granted a Certificate of Qualification (CQ). A CQ or completion of the examinations is a prerequisite to apply for a general veterinary license in all the provinces of Canada. The licensing authorities in any province may require further examinations in addition to or in lieu of those required to obtain a CQ.
Step 3 - The Provincial Licence and Exam
After you pass all of the NEB exams and receive your exam marks, you can apply to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario for a licence. To apply for a licence, you must phone, write, fax or go to CVO in Guelph, Ontario to request a licensure application package. The package contains an application form, the exam brochure and the Ontario legislation for veterinary medicine. Once you have the application, you must go in person to the CVO to present the documents listed below and write the Ontario Provincial Qualifying Exam. You may submit your licence application, documents and fees for licensing when you come to write this exam.
The information you sent to the National Examining Board is not forwarded to the CVO so you must bring the following documents:
- Your original veterinary degree and certified translation
- Letters from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association indicating your marks on the National Board Exams
- The results of a language proficiency test (see the Language Proficiency Test information)
- A letter from your previous licensing bodies showing proof of licensure in good standing (You should obtain this before leaving your country of origin if possible.)
- Your original landed immigrant papers or work visa or Canadian citizenship
- The application form and fees required
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario administers the Ontario Provincial Qualifying Exam. The exam takes two hours to write and is made up of true/false questions. It tests your knowledge of Ontario’s provincial veterinary laws and ethical issues. You may take the exam at any time during the year by making an appointment with the CVO. The legislation for you to study is included in the application package.
Language Proficiency Test
If you come from a country where English or French is not the official language, you must pass an English or French proficiency test. This test must be written before you can appear for the NEB exams or if you have pursued an alternate route, prior to writing the Ontario Provincial Qualifying Exam. The CVO will accept one of the following English proficiency tests and scores:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), with a minimum score of 550 on the written test or a minimum score of 213 on the computer-based test, and the Test of Spoken English (TSE) with a minimum score of 50.
- Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) with a minimum score of 85.
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.5.
- Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment with a minimum score of 60.
You must bring your scores with you when you apply to the College of Veterinarians. You may take these tests in Canada or they may be written before you come to Canada. For more information on these tests, see addresses listed at the end of this document.
Labour Market Information
The employment outlook for veterinarians in Ontario is fair and should remain stable into the near future. Your success in finding employment will depend on the place where you are searching for work. Large urban centres have a high concentration of veterinarians and a very competitive market. Opportunities for employment are better if you are willing to work outside the cities in smaller towns. Generally, unemployment for veterinarians is lower than the national average and the average income is higher than the national average.
There are about 4,200 veterinarians licensed to practise veterinary medicine in Ontario. About 125 veterinarians are added to this number each year. For more information on labour market conditions for veterinarians in Ontario see Ontario Job Futures on the MTCU website at www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/ojf. If you are already in Ontario, this information is also available at public libraries or HRDC Employment Resource Centres in your community.
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario ( CVO) does not provide information on employment as a veterinarian in Ontario. The CVO is not an employment service. If you are looking for a job as a veterinary assistant or technician, you can review the classified section of the Canadian Veterinary Journal, a publication of the CVMA (see address at the end of this document).
You can also see a listing of jobs in the Veterinary Classifieds, a publication of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) at their web site, www.ovma.org, or you can order the publication by contacting them directly (see address at the end of this document). The OVMA is the professional association for veterinarians in Ontario. The association is not an employment service either, but it does provide useful information and support to members. Membership in the association is voluntary.
A detailed list of books available for study purposes is and other resources are provided in the National Examining Board Information for Applicants booklet. You can gain access to these materials by contacting the library of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph (see address at the end of this document).
The CVO understands that international veterinary graduates need to gain practical experience before attempting the Clinical Proficiency Exam of the National Examining Board. To obtain this experience, international veterinary graduates in Ontario could work under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian who has signed a Supervision Undertaking with the CVO. A new policy to provide a restricted licence to international veterinary graduates to work under supervision while preparing for the Clinical Proficiency Exam is expected in 2011.
A list of practices that are willing to hire/mentor internationally-trained veterinarians before they complete the NEB examination process is being prepared by the NEB/CVMA and will be available shortly.
The provincial fees are submitted to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario at the time of licensing.
For More Information
National Voluntary Body
The Registrar, National Examining Board
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)
339 Booth Street
Ottawa , Ontario
Telephone: (613) 236-1162
Toll free in Canada: 1-800-567-2862
Fax: (613) 236-9681
Web site: http://canadianveterinarians.net/
Provincial Regulatory Body
College of Veterinarians of Ontario ( CVO)
2106 Gordon Street
Guelph , Ontario
Telephone: (519) 824-5600
Toll free telephone in Ontario: 1-800-424-2856
Fax: (519) 824-6497
Toll free fax in Ontario: 1-888-662-9479
Web site: www.cvo.org
Veterinary School in Ontario
Office of the Dean
Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)
University of Guelph
Guelph , Ontario
Telephone: (519) 823-8800
Fax: (519) 837-3230
Web site: www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/
Sample copies of the NAVLE
National Board Examination Committee
P.O. Box 1356
Bismarck, North Dakota
Telephone: (701) 224-0332
Fax: (701) 224-0435
Web site practice exam: www.nbec.org
Voluntary Association for Veterinarians
Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA)
420 Bronte Street South
Telephone: (905) 875-0756
Toll free number in Ontario: 1-800-670-1702
Fax: (905) 875-0958
Web site: www.ovma.org
Voluntary Association for Veterinary Technicians
Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians
P.O. Box 833
Guelph , Ontario
Telephone: (519) 836-4910
Fax: (519) 836-3638
Web site: www.oavt.org
For information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario, visit www.settlement.org or contact:
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
Telephone: (416) 322-4950
Fax: (416) 322-8084
Web site: www.ocasi.org
Government contact about accessing professions in Ontario
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario (GEO)
Tel: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866–388-2262
English Language Proficiency Tests
P.O. Box 6151
Princeton , New Jersey
Telephone: (609) 771-7100
Fax: (609) 771-7500
TYY: (609) 734-9362
Web site: www.toefl.org
Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment
School of Linguistics & Applied Language Studies
220 Paterson Hall
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa , Ontario
Tel.: (613) 520-2600 ext.2271
Fax: (613) 520-7872
Web site: www.cael.ca
International English Language Testing Services (IELTS)
IELTS Test Centre
299 Doon Valley Drive
Telephone: (519) 748-5220, ext. 603
Fax: (519) 748-3505
Web site: www.conestoga.on.ca
IELTS Subject Officer
University of Cambridge
Local Examinations Syndicate
1 Hills Road
Web site: www.ielts.org/
English Language Institute
3020 North University Building
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor , MI
Telephone: (734) 763-3452 or
Fax: (734) 763-0369
Web site: www.umich.edu
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, © 2011.