Getting Started as a Veterinarian
Ever since the dawn of TV shows like The Supervet and The Vet Life, young people are becoming more aware of how rewarding a career as a veterinarian can be. If you’ve decided you want to pursue a career in veterinary science, here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know.
What Can I Expect from a Career as a Vet?
Before you decide you want to be a vet, it’s worthwhile taking into consideration whether or not the career is right for you. Vets need to have excellent critical thinking / problem solving skills and an aptitude for scientific software and technology, as well as excellent communication skills, empathy, and the ability to work with both people and animals!
On a daily basis you could be doing anything from diagnosing conditions and prescribing medication to operating in surgery or conducting research. If you choose to specialise in one area you may also need to continue your studies long into your career.
A job as a vet can be hard, with potentially distressing decisions to make and long hours to work – especially if you’re on emergency call. However, the work can also be extremely rewarding; vets often care for pets who are considered a part of the family and helping to make them better is extremely fulfilling work.
What Steps Do I Need to Take to Become a Vet?
To launch your career as a vet, you’ll need to start out with your bachelor’s degree. Most students will opt for a biology degree, but you can start in other sciences. This is also a good time to start building up experience in your free time; try to get an internship, join a pre-vet club, or volunteer at your local surgery.
Once you’ve achieved your undergrad, the next step is a doctorate. At this stage, you can also opt to expand your research skills if you think you’d enjoy a more research-oriented role in your later career. The final step is to get your vets license, which normally requires one or more exams.
What Sort of Salary Can I Expect?
Since they require such a wide range of knowledge and skills, vet roles can offer very competitive salaries. New vets can expect to earn around £30k to start, with more experienced vets earning up to £44k per year. Specialist vets or those with more than 20 years’ experience can earn anything up to £70k per year.
Can I Get Financial Help to Train as a Vet?
One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a vet is funding your training. You will most likely have to take out a student loan, which you will repay when you start working. There are also some grants and bursaries available; for example, the bursary for students who want to join the Royal Army Veterinary Corps or the Zebra Foundation grant for students of zoological medicine.
Check out the British Veterinary Association’s guide to grants and bursaries for more information.