The basics
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How to become a vet with a veterinary science degree

Love animals and want to improve their health and wellbeing? A degree in veterinary science could be for you...

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Becoming a vet takes hard work and dedication. Here are the basics for those who are contemplating becoming a veterinarian…

 

What is a veterinarian?

A medical professional who treats illnesses and injuries in animals, prescribing medication, performing surgery, and providing pet owners with medical advice for their animals. Vets do typically work long hours and it can be challenging at times, however this profession can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling for those who are interested in the work.

 

Gain work experience

Veterinary courses are highly competitive and so you must study hard in school. Getting good grades will help you move forward. It’s also important to start doing animal-related work experience early on in your education, usually in secondary school. You might want to consider volunteering at an animal shelter or taking some unpaid work at the local vet. This will help make your vet school application more competitive and help you stand out from other applicants.

 

You should also study science-related subjects to give yourself the foundation and background of knowledge you will need to have later down the line. Universities and colleges will be looking for students who have taken science subjects at A-level (or equivalent). You will also need top grades to be accepted into vet school. According to the UK Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, veterinary students need at least two A’s and a B, with some schools asking for 3 A’s.

 

Study veterinary medicine at university / college

To become a vet, you will need to go to university and obtain a veterinary degree. If you get accepted onto a course, it typically takes 5 years to complete before you graduate. So, you need to make sure that this is something you really want to do, and you are committed to putting in the hard work. On a veterinary medicine course, you will develop skills such as:

 

  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Listening
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills

 

Of course, you will also gain extensive knowledge of biology, medicine, and animal dentistry, building on your skills each year of the course. Once you graduate from an accredited degree, you will become a licensed veterinarian.

 

Where can I do veterinary studies? 

Once you know that you definitely want to pursue veterinary studies, you’ll need to think about the country and university you want to apply to. Check out the following courses at veterinary schools in some of the top study destinations:

 

 

What can you earn as a vet?

Although it takes a while to become a vet, the salaries tend to be high. For example, recently qualified vets in the UK can earn GDP 30,500- GDP 35,500 which is comparatively higher than a lot of starting salaries in other industries. With experience, vets can earn increase their earnings to GDP 40,000-70,000 per year. Salaries will also depend on your chosen specialisation and where you choose to work as major cities tend to pay higher salaries.  

 

Source: Graduate Prospects 2019

 

Internships

One year of advanced training in a clinical setting that can either better prepare the recent graduate for general practice or pave the way for even more schooling, your internship is one of the most important experiences you’ll ever go through, gaining experience of working in a real veterinary clinic.

 

Residencies

A typical residency lasts for three years but the details vary depending on the specialty being pursued such as anaesthesia, cardiology, surgery and so on.  As a resident, the vet specialist-in-training must treat a variety of relevant conditions, undergo training, and perform research to be published. Once all this is completed, only then can you refer to yourself as board certified, boarded or as a diplomate or specialist in a particular field. Some masters and PhD courses will involve completing a residency as part of the programme. This can be a great way of combining the theoretical and practical elements of veterinary medicine.

 

Overall, a vet in general practice probably would go to school for around 21 years in total while a specialist may have studied for 25 or more. This course is certainly not for the faint hearted.

 

You can find more veterinary courses here, or alternatively, you can use our course matcher tool to find what’s right for you based on your qualifications and preferences.

 

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