Veterinary surgeons, also known as vets, diagnose and treat sick animals. Most work in general practice, with domestic pets, farm and zoo animals. If you would love to work with animals and are inspired by science, this could be the perfect career for you.
Patience, sensitivity and empathy for animals and owners is something you will need to have in this job. You’ll also need to be assertive and be able to make decisions about the welfare of animals in your care.
To become a vet you will need a degree that is approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
To train to be a veterinary surgeon you will need to go to university and take a veterinary degree. Degree places are in high demand and you must begin planning before you choose your GCSE options to ensure that you are taking the correct subjects and can acheive the necessary grades.
The degree courses are five years in length (six years at some schools).
In general terms, the entry requirements of the university veterinary schools are as follows:
Biology must usually be offered at A level. The requirement for other subjects varies a little from university to university, but either one or two subjects from Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics should be offered. Some universities may accept a third A level in a non-science subject, but it must be an academically sound subject. The minimum grades generally expected are two A's and a B, though some schools will require three grade A's.
Some universities accept AS levels, but precise requirements can vary. Sometimes, 2 AS levels will be accepted in lieu of 1 A level, except in Chemistry where a full A level is usually required.
Chemistry must be offered and generally two subjects from Biology, Physics or Mathematics. The grades generally expected are AAABB.
Applicants are normally advised to proceed to the Sixth Year and include CSYS Chemistry and Biology or Physics in their subjects.
You must meet the general entrance requirements of the university. Most universities require you to have at least a grade C pass in English Language, Mathematics and Science, and many will expect A grades at GCSE. Where A level Biology or Physics is not offered, you must have a good pass in that subject at GCSE level.
Some universities will consider applicants with relevant vocational qualifications, such as the BTEC Diploma in Animal Science, with distinction grades.
If you have not managed to get the correct grades or have not chosen the correct subjects, there are still options available for getting into a veterinary degree course. Some of the schools offer a 6 year course which is aimed at those students who do not have the required scientific qualifications. This extra year will focus on the types of subjects that most students will study at A level, and this will prepare the student for the 5 year degree. If you do not have the expected subjects/grades you are advised to speak to the admissions departments at the relevant universities.
All of the university veterinary schools require applicants to show evidence of their interest and commitment by having gained experience of working in a veterinary practice and working with and handling animals including livestock. However, practical experience is not a substitute for academic qualifications.
Veterinary nursing is the supportive care of animals receiving treatment within a veterinary practice. A veterinary nurse works as a member of the veterinary team, providing expert nursing care for sick animals. Veterinary nurses also play a significant role in educating owners on maintaining the health of their pets. They carry out technical work and are skilled in undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, medical treatments and minor surgical procedures, under veterinary direction.
Veterinary nursing offers rewarding career opportunities for people interested in animal health and welfare. The demand for veterinary nurses is steadily increasing and employment prospects are excellent.
There are two routes to becoming a qualified veterinary nurse; either via vocational training or via a higher education qualification. Both routes lead to registration as a veterinary nurse.
If you are very practically-minded, and want to get “stuck in” to a job in a veterinary practice, vocational training is probably best for you.
The Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing is a vocational qualification designed to prepare veterinary nurses for professional registration on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Register of Veterinary Nurses. It is available on either a full-time basis or apprenticeship-style alongside a job in veterinary practice. For further information on training and entry requirements, please contact one of the awarding organisations that offer the Level 3 Diploma included in the List of RCVS Approved Qualifications in Veterinary Nursing.
A degree course will take a little longer than a vocational qualification and is more academic, but you will be required to undertake clinical placements in an approved training practice. A degree in veterinary nursing can lead to additional career opportunities, such as research, the pharmaceutical industry and teaching, in addition to work in clinical veterinary practice.
A number of institutions offer full-time integrated higher education courses leading to a Foundation or Honours Degree in veterinary nursing. The RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Nursing is also awarded to all graduates of courses approved by us. It should be noted that candidates for veterinary nurse training must satisfy both the entry requirements for veterinary nursing qualifications and the entry requirements of their chosen university. Please note that applications for university should be made through UCAS.
Other 'Non Medical' Careers with Animals
Veterinary medicine is not for everyone. There are other paths that you can take that will provide a fulfilling career with animals.
Work experience is very important if you are interested in Veterinary Medicine or Veterinary Nursing and it will be crucial to the success of your application to university. We do offer Work Experience at Eastcott Vets but places are limited and we do have waiting lists.