Out of high school it can take 2-4 years or more, but look into the schools you want to apply to, for example: Purdue has an early acceptance program where they accept high school seniors, see the section about it at the bottom of this page: http://www.aavmc.org/purdue.aspx
There is no degree that you "have" to get. Some people don't even have a degree and get in! Most people have degrees in Animal Science or Biology, but earning a degree that will give you a back up plan in case you don't get in to vet school can be helpful!
See the link in my sources for the Bureau of Labor information for salary information.
Here's a little bit more about becoming a veterinarian for you!
Most people who go to vet school have a bachelor's degree, but it is not required to get into vet school. There are only 28 veterinary schools in the country (There are also several international schools that are AVMA accredited) and entrance to these is highly competitive, so not having a bachelor's can make it more difficult.
The schools' requirements vary slightly, so look into the specific school you are interested in first- I have included a link in my sources to a descriptor page with requirements for each school. Most require biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, math, and English. You can complete the courses you need at any college that offers them, including a community college if money is an issue. Schools also require a certain amount of experience with animals (having a pet does not count in this!) and experience working with a veterinarian. You will also need to take the GRE or MCAT before applying. This may seem like a lot, but the schools want to know you can handle the course load in vet school and know about the career. Tip: keep a record of your activities, hours, and honors- you can put things on your vet apps as far back as high school!
Where you apply depends a lot on where you live. Vet schools reserve a certain number of seats for students who are residents of the state the vet school is located in. This is where your best chance of being accepted is, but you can also apply to out of state schools. The Veterinary Medical College Application Service handles the main application. Most schools also have a supplemental application which you must get from the school itself. Most schools have interviews, but some do not.
Once you make it through the application process and are accepted, (yay!) the hard work begins. Veterinary school is four years. It is medical school, but for multiple species. Typically the structure is three years of classroom work and one year of clinical training. Each program is a little different, check into the individual schools' websites for more information. Making it through vet school is difficult. You will be in class for 8-9 hours each day during the week and will need to spend evenings and weekends studying. During clinical rotations you may be required to be at the hospital at all hours. You can also do an internship or residency after graduation to become more specialized.
Please also take cost into account when planning your undergraduate course work! The average vet student in 2010 graduated with about $130,000 in debt. Vet school tuition alone (this does not include books, room, board, and other expenses) ranges from the cheapest being $13,000 (North Carolina, in state students) to almost $60,000 (Ohio, out of state students) per year. The majority of financing is going to be in loans, which are all unsubsidized starting this year, so interest will be accruing while you are in school. There are not a lot of grants and scholarships for professional students the way there are for undergraduate students.
The average starting salary for a vet is between $43,000 and $71,000 depending on what area you are going in to. The median annual wage for veterinarians was $82,000 in 2010. Veterinarians have the worst debt to salary ratio of any of the professional school graduates (lawyers, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, etc,.) There are no veterinarians I know of who got into the career because they wanted to make lots of money. For more information on salary statistics and the career see the link to the Bureau of Labor information in my sources.
If you are still interested in becoming a veterinarian after reading all of this then fantastic! A good way to start getting a feel for the career is to call some local vets and ask if you could spend an afternoon shadowing them! There are also other careers with animals that you may not have considered that would be just as rewarding- I have put a link to a website about animal related careers in my sources, take a look at that!
Best of luck to you!!
if you want to be a vet it is approximately 11 years of schooling and the cost would be approximately two hundred thousand dollars ... vet salaries vary quite significantly depending on where in the country you are, if you have any specialization (such as equine/large animal vet) ... the median salary would be about eighty thousand dollars ... there are only 28 veterinary colleges in the united states making it statistically harder to get into vet school than medical school which is why your marks would need to be competitive ...
if you want to be a vet tech, that is community college or career college and the wage upon completion would be starting about 14 to 19 dollars an hour ... http://www.avma.org/education/cvea/vette... - list of vet tech programs in the united states ... it is either a 2 or 4 year program ...
if you want to be a vet assistant, that would be the easiest ... sometimes you do not even need anything but a high school diploma ... the wage would be just a buck or two above minimum wage ... it might be a place to start to see if you like the field and being employed as an assistant would give you a leg up if you then intend to pursue more education in the field ...