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Animal

Vet

Vets diagnose and treat sick or injured animals.

Annual Salary

£30,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

40 to 45 a week

You could work: on call; as customers demand

Day to day tasks

In general veterinary practice you could:

  • diagnose and treat sick and injured animals
  • perform operations
  • carry out blood analyses, X-rays and scans
  • provide care for animals in veterinary hospitals
  • carry out regular health checks and give vaccinations
  • check farm animals and advise on how to stop diseases spreading
  • supervise veterinary nurses and support staff
  • keep records of treatments
  • communicate with pet owners and insurers
  • neuter animals to stop them breeding
  • put severely injured or terminally ill animals to sleep
  • follow public health and hygiene laws

Working environment

You may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.

You could work at a veterinary practice, in remote rural areas or in a laboratory.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and outdoors some of the time.

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 (RCVS).

Entry to courses is highly competitive. For this reason the selection process is very thorough. You can expect to be interviewed and to take screening tests at most universities. You'll need to show that:

  • you are able to meet the academic requirements of the course
  • you understand what the role involves
  • that you are highly motivated
  • that you have gained some relevant work experience

You can find out more about studying veterinary science from UCAS.

Full-time veterinary degrees usually take 5 to 6 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 can also apply to join the Army Medical Service while completing your degree at university. On selection, you would receive further training to become a veterinary officer in the army.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
For more information
Volunteering and work 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 also volunteer with a local kennel or animal welfare centre, or with animal charities like the PDSA or RSPCA.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

You can explore veterinary science through virtual work experience with Futurelearn.

Professional and industry bodies

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

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

Further information

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

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

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 animal 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
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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