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Veterinary Science School Leaver Jobs - Careers Guide

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If you like animals of all shapes and sizes, and want to be able to help them, maybe a career in veterinary science is right for you.Veterinary science

Working in veterinary science means learning all about animals, and how to treat them when they're sick or injured. You'll also know about infectious diseases that need to be prevented. It's challenging work as you can't ask an animal where they hurt, but it's also rewarding to see your efforts pay off as you keep your patients healthy and happy. You can specialise in working with small or large animals.

What’s it all about? TOP ^

While treating and helping animals is a huge part of working in this industry, you can also work in pharmaceutical companies, universities, government departments and conservation organisations.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons registers veterinarians and veterinary nurses in the UK, and has information on where to get training. The British Veterinary Association is a professional organisation that offers training, events and support for students and graduates.

Volunteering at an animal shelter will give you a taste of what it's like to work with animals, as well as a bit of experience that can help you decide what sort career you want to have.

You'll work fairly regular hours and shifts in a veterinary practice, but vets and nurses can work very long hours - particularly if they travel to treat animals at farms. It's also difficult work if you are very sensitive to seeing animals in pain. You'll need to keep up on the latest developments in animal care, which may involve travelling to attend conferences or lectures.

What will I earn?TOP ^

A receptionist in a veterinary practice can earn £13,000-£18,000, and an animal nursing assistant can start off around £12,000. A new veterinary nurse can start off with a salary around £14,000, going over £20,000 as you gain experience. A veterinary surgeon can earn £30,000-£50,000.

Where can I work? TOP ^

Receptionists can work at a veterinary practice without training, but you'll probably need to have had experience in an administrative role. Having an Animal Nursing Assistant qualification, or having completed at least some of the training from that will come in handy if you want to take on a more senior role.

To train as an Animal Nursing Assistant, you first need to be working in a veterinary practice. The programme takes about a year to complete. From here, you can go on to train as a veterinary nurse, which can be done as an apprenticeship or through full-time study. There are degree programmes available in Veterinary Nursing, too.

Veterinary surgeons need to get a veterinary science degree at university, which can take five or six years to complete. You'll need at least three A Levels at grade A or higher for this, including ones in Chemistry and Biology.

What skills will I need in veterinary science? TOP ^

In addition to being an expert in your field, jobs in the veterinary science industry require compassion for both the animals you're helping and their owners, plus a lot of patience. You'll have to be confident in your skills, but also willing to keep up your training by reading articles or attending short courses.

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.

What entry level veterinary science jobs can I do? TOP ^

If you want to work in veterinary science you will need to get a degree and continue in education. However, it is well worth getting work experience and asking to spend time in veterinary practices and onsite.

Some entry level veterinary science jobs you can get after graduation include:

  • Veterinary nurse
  • Laboratory assistant
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Veterinary surgeon
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