Veterinary surgeon, veterinarian
Vets diagnose and treat sick or injured animals.
Salary Range: £30,000 to £50,000
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
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 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
- 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry
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.
- you’ll need to register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
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 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.
Skills and knowledge
- 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
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass enhanced background checks
You may need a driving licence for some jobs.
In general veterinary practice you could be:
- 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
- following public health and hygiene laws
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 may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.
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.