I Want To Be A… Veterinarian

By Arkansas Next on Friday, October 21, 2022

Hannah Jobe
Marlow Ball is a veterinarian and owner at SoMa Animal Clinic in Little Rock

Hometown: Little Rock

My training: Bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Arkansas; doctorate of veterinary medicine from Louisiana State University

My job: Veterinarian and owner at SoMa Animal Clinic in Little Rock

Marlow started working at an animal clinic when she was 15 years old and from then on, she was determined to become a veterinarian. 

Diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Marlow learns differently than those without ADHD. Through medication, support and hard work, she was able to accomplish her dream.

“Veterinary school was so hard for me,” Marlow said. “Sitting in lectures and labs for six-to-eight-hours a day, and then studying hours each night for tests was very hard. I found a wonderful group of friends to study with and managed to complete my degree.”

Marlow earned a bachelor's degree in Animal Science from the University of Arkansas, which set her up for success in veterinary school. Some courses included reviewing material she learned during her undergrad program, and she encourages those interested in the field to take every anatomy, biology and zoology class available. 

“I love that I get to perform such a range of medicine and surgery,” Marlow said. “From a tooth extraction and a C-section to managing a diabetic cat who wants to kill me...we really do get to see and treat it all.”

Marlow performs anesthesia, surgery and medicine, counsels pet owners and leads her team. She finds her job incredibly satisfying when she gets to help pets and their owners through hard times. “It is such an honor to be a part of people’s lives and maybe make one hard part…just a little easier or just a little better for that pet and for that owner.”

She is inspired by her parents, who have empowered her to reach for her dreams and encourage her to work hard. They are continuously involved with her family, and she feels the strong support system she has in Little Rock has allowed her to thrive.

“We desperately need more veterinarians, we especially need more large animal vets,” Marlow said. “ I have watched many classmates turn to small animal or emergency [practice] in order to have a chance to get out of student loan debt.”


► Education required: 

  • A doctoral or professional degree is required, but you’ll start by earning a bachelor’s degree in pre-veterinary medicine or animal science (also called pre-vet, or pre-veterinary science depending on the school). 

  • Major in Animal Science (Common degree for pre-veterinary track)

► $80,650 median annual wage for veterinarians in Arkansas

► $133,180 median annual wage for top 10% of veterinarians in Arkansas

► $100,370 median annual wage for veterinarians in the U.S.

Source: careeronestop.org

New Veterinary School Coming to Arkansas!

Lyon College at Batesville recently announced plans for the first veterinary medicine school in Arkansas. College president Melissa Taverner said classes could start as early as fall 2024 in Little Rock. 

Better yet? Lyon College and its partner OneHealth Education Group want to make the new school affordable. Merritt Dake of OneHealth told Arkansas Business that it wants to find ways to reduce the debt burden carried by professionals after graduating from the veterinary program.

Source: Arkansasbusiness.com

More Majors for Animal Lovers

You don’t have to become a veterinarian to work with animals. Here are Arkansas programs to train you for a career working with wildlife! 

Veterinary Technology - Vet techs assist veterinarians like nurses assist doctors
  • Arkansas State University-Beebe (associate degree)
Animal Husbandry - The science of breeding and caring for farm animals
  • Ozarka College (certificate of proficiency)
Animal Training
  • East Arkansas Community College (certificate of proficiency)
  • Fisheries & Wildlife
  • (Degree types and names vary by school)
  • Arkansas State University
  • Arkansas State University-Beebe
  • Arkansas Tech University
  • Henderson State University
  • Southern Arkansas University
  • Southern Arkansas University Tech
  • University of Arkansas at Monticello
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Equine Science
  • Ozarka College (certificate of proficiency)
Waterfowl Habitat & Recreation Management 
  • University of Arkansas at Monticello (graduate's certificate)

Source: arkansasnext.com/my-path and adhe.edu (Approved Degree Programs, Academic Year 2023)

A Look at Job Demand

► Only 14 vets per 100,000 people

► 17% projected annual job growth for vets in Arkansas by 2028

 Arkansas is the highest paying state for veterinarians in the U.S.

 Arkansas veterinarians earn an average salary that is 146.7% MORE than the average salary across all occupations in the state.

Source: veterinarians.org (Special Reports Team, Nov. 2021); careeronestop.org