Veterinary Science Graduate Jobs - Careers Guide

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If you love animals working as a veterinary surgeon could be the job for you. Veterinary scientists and surgeons study, treat and prevent illness in animals.

Veterinary surgeons work to keep the health and welfare of animals in tip top shape. A vet has the important job of combining all their knowledge of animal physiology, nutrition and medicine with practical skills to diagnose illnesses, prescribe medicines and perform surgery. Veterinary scientists are employed in labs, veterinary hospitals, veterinary schools, and research institutes that deal with animal health and disease.

With further qualifications you can also become a veterinary researcher. This leads to more understanding of how diseases are created and spread and what impact these diseases have on animals. You may be involved in creating prevention strategies so that animal and our home pets can be healthier.

It is also possible to pursue a teaching career within universities or research bodies but this is after years of veterinary knowledge and experience.

Graduates are employed mostly in general practices but other veterinary opportunities exist in government services, and pharmaceutical companies, with pet food manufacturers or other commercial organisations.

What degree do I need?TOP ^

If you want a career in veterinary science and working with animals, then it is vital to have the appropriate degree, qualification and experience. In order to become a vet you will need to study a veterinary degree at university. Typically lasting five years plus work experience, a veterinary degree will also allow you to specialise in certain fields such as exotic species.
Some degrees you can take include:

  • Veterinary medicine
  • Animal behaviour and welfare
  • Animal biology
  • Bioveterinary science
  • Equine science
  • Veterinary science

Assessment on veterinary degrees is generally through coursework, practical assessments, exams and end of degree final exams. Work experience is vital, and you will find yourself on a number of placements throughout your studies.

What skills do I need?TOP ^

Veterinary science jobs are all about the technical skills and on-the-job knowledge you get from your work experience. Long hours are a given in the industry, and you can often be on call at all hours of the day. It’s important to be able to work effectively as part of a team, and good communication skills are essential as you will often be dealing with distressed animal owners.

You can expect to be continuously learning throughout your veterinary career, as new techniques, drugs and illnesses come up.

What graduate veterinary science job can I do? TOP ^

The veterinary profession has grown in the last century. In the UK veterinary nursing is popular with approximately 5,500 veterinary nurses in veterinary jobs.

Veterinary science graduates are almost guaranteed a job at the end of their training. There is an acute shortage of vets in the UK, so employment rates for students are well above 90% at most veterinary schools. Most graduates go into general veterinary practices initially before heading into research or the state veterinary service.

Some jobs include:

  • Veterinary surgeon
  • Veterinary nurse
  • Veterinary scientist
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Lecturer in veterinary science
  • Laboratory assistant

As you develop your career as a vet, you may find yourself getting into managerial positions within a practice, eventually becoming a partner in the business. Taking on these roles will inevitably mean you need to gain management skills and have a financial input into the practice.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, there are opportunities for vets to specialise in certain fields such as equine medicine, animal surgery or dermatology.

Average veterinary science salariesTOP ^

Veterinary science is an expensive degree to take, but the salary you earn can often make up for it. Starting salaries for newly qualified vets are between £22,000 and £30,000 depending on your experience and expertise.

Salary levels grow according to your experience and the further training courses you take, allowing you to specialise in certain fields.

  • Veterinary assistant: £22,000 - £30,000
  • Middle ranking vet: £36,500 - £40,000
  • Senior vet: £44,000 - £55,000
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