Animal

Vet

Vets diagnose and treat sick or injured animals.

Annual Salary

£30,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

40 to 45

What's it all about?

You could work in general practice, or for a public and animal health department like the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) or the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). You could also work in teaching or research.

In general veterinary practice your day-to-day tasks will include:

  • diagnosing and treating sick and injured animals
  • performing operations
  • carrying out tests such as blood analysis, X-rays and scans
  • providing care for an animal in veterinary hospitals
  • carrying out regular health checks and giving vaccinations
  • checking farm animals and advising how to stop diseases spreading
  • supervising veterinary nurses and support staff
  • keeping records of treatments
  • communicating with pet owners and insurers
  • neutering animals to stop them breeding
  • putting severely injured or terminally ill animals to sleep

In public health, your day-to-day tasks will include investigating human and animal disease outbreaks like foot and mouth disease.

As a vet in industry, you'll develop and test drugs, chemicals and biological products. You may also check hygiene and care in stables, kennels or pet shops.

You'll follow public health and hygiene laws.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You'll need to complete a veterinary degree approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Full-time veterinary degrees usually take 5 years.

If you already have a degree in a related subject, you may be able to take a 4-year graduate entry veterinary degree course.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 7 (A* to B), including English, maths, chemistry and biology
  • 3 A levels with good grades, including chemistry and biology

Volunteering and experience

You'll need to get experience of working in a veterinary practice, plus experience of handling different animals from small domestic pets to larger livestock.

You could volunteer with a vet, a local kennel or animal welfare centre, or with animal charities like the PDSA or RSPCA.

Further Information

You could join the British Veterinary Association and British Small Animals Veterinary Association for professional development and networking opportunities.

You could join the British Equine Veterinary Association if you work with horses.

You can find out more about becoming a vet from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British Veterinary Association.

£30,000 to £50,000

Starter salary: £30,000

Experienced salary: £35,000 to £44,000

You may sometimes get accommodation and transport.

These figures are a guide.

40 to 45

At a vets' practice you'll usually work about 43 hours a week. You could also be on call, day or night.

The job is physically demanding.

You may work outdoors if you're treating farm animals or horses.

You could focus on treating particular animals, or specialise in areas such as dermatology or cardiology, by taking RCVS-approved postgraduate courses.

You could join the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) if you work with horses.

Experience in veterinary surgery could also help you to get a job in environmental conservation.

You could also move into a career in research and teaching with a university or research body.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • knowledge of biology
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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