A veterinarian is a trained professional who diagnoses and treats sick and injured animals.
In day to day work you may; perform operations, carry out tests e.g. scans, X-rays, blood analysis, give vaccinations, carry out health checks, advise on preventing disease spread in situations such as farmed animals, supervise vet nurses, spay and neuter animals, keep records of treatments, euthanize animals when necessary and meet/ consult with owners or carers of animals.
Key Skills Required:
- Problem solving
- Excellent communication
- Practical skills (animal handling)
- Ability to make tough decisions & work under pressure
- Management skills
- Interest in Animal Welfare
Key Points to Know:
- A standard work week in a vet practice in the UK is around 43 hours. You may also be on call (which can include night time).
- Being a vet is very physically and emotionally demanding.
- You may work outdoors depending on the animals you are treating e.g. equine/ farm animals.
To be a vet you will need to:
- Complete a degree course approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)
- Be registered with the RCVS
To complete a full-time degree will take 5 years and generally you will need five GCSEs (A* -C) and three A levels as well as some prior experience with animals. Once you have graduated you can register with the RCVS.
Estimated average salary: £30,000 – £50,000 annually
Over half of the vets employed in the U.K. are employed on a full-time basis. Competition for a place on the degree course and for veterinary jobs is fierce so work hard to get high grades, be dedicated and show your passion by work experience placements, volunteering or working with animals in your spare time. The more hands-on experience you have, the better.
You can anticipate employment in a variety of situations with your degree and hands on experience, including:
- Veterinary practices
Working in a general practice will give you the opportunity to work with a variety of animals in a range of situations. Day to day tasks include everything from examining pets to advising owner but of course will depend on the type of practice you choose to work in. They can often be separated by the following:
Companion animals – this is a practice that deals with pets and common household animals.
Farm animals – working with farm animals often means treating a herd rather than treating individuals.
Equine – horses can be found throughout the country in varying situations from pets to breeding or racing industries. Horses require treatment that is very different from farm animals.
Exotics – dealing with exotic pets and their ailments.
Mixed – dealing with a combination of all of the above.
You may also seek employment with:
- Animal Hospital
- Animal Charities & Welfare Societies
You may also decide that working hands on in a practice isn’t for you and that’s fine too. There are many roles outside of practices, for example you may choose to work:
- Alongside governments and universities for the benefit of public health
- In teaching
- As a representative in policy work
- Within the army
- As an academic researcher
List of Specialties
If you are interested in becoming a vet and have a particular species in mind or passion you wish to pursue, after completing your degree as a veterinary practitioner you can choose to specialise in any of the below:
- Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law
- Anaesthesia and Analgesia
- Behavioural Medicine
- Clinical Nutrition
- Pharmacology & Toxicology
- Large Animal Diagnostic Imaging
- Emergency & Critical Care
- Laboratory Animal Science
- Public Health
- Small Animal Medicine
- Small Animal Surgery
- Camelid Health and Production
- Cattle Health and Production
- Sheep Health and Production
- Equine Medicine
- Equine Gastroenterology
- Equine Surgery
- Exotic Animal Medicine
- Feline Medicine
- Fish Health and Production
- Pig Medicine
- Poultry Medicine and Production
- Rabbit Medicine and Surgery
- Wildlife Medicine
- Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
If one of these catches your attention, speak to your veterinary college or visit the RCVS website to find out how and when you can begin to specialise in your chosen area.