£30,000 Starter - £50,000 Experienced
40 to 45 a week (on call as customers demand)
Where to start
You can get into this job through
a university courseUniversity
You'll need to complete a veterinary degree approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
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 can also apply to join the Army Medical Service while completing your degree at university. On selection, you would receive further training to become a veterinary officer in the army.
You'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science and at least 3 A-Levels, or the equivalent, including biology and chemistry.
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 also volunteer with a local kennel or animal welfare centre, or with animal charities like the PDSA or RSPCA.
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 also join the British Equine Veterinary Association if you work with horses.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of animal 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.
What you’ll do
In general veterinary practice you could:
- diagnose and treat sick and injured animals
- perform operations
- carry out blood analyses, X-rays and scans
- provide care for animals in veterinary hospitals
- carry out regular health checks and give vaccinations
- check farm animals and advise on how to stop diseases spreading
- supervise veterinary nurses and support staff
- keep records of treatments
- communicate with pet owners and insurers
- neuter animals to stop them breeding
- put severely injured or terminally ill animals to sleep
- follow 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.
Career path and progression
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.