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Do you want to work as a veterinarian?

  • Read about the most important info you need to decide on following this career.
  • ​Follow the 7 points below and search for a tertiary institution near you for future studies. If you already are graduated, you may also search through our list of Jobs in the main menu.
  • If you want to PLAN the way you need to prepare, then join our community in step 8 where you will learn everything, while chatting with other potential veterinarians and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 1 September 2020

1. What is a Veterinarian?

A Veterinarian is a doctor who protects the health and well-being of both animals and people by treating animals for various ailments and diseases.

Also known as:

  • Veterinary Scientist
  • Animal Doctors
  • Animal Health Practitioners

Veterinarians who specialize in working with wildlife or zoo animals, are discussed separately. Click on the links to visit their Pages:

Years of study?

Veterinarians study at least 8 years before being able to work with animals

Market value?

The global veterinary medicine market size was estimated at USD 28.1 billion

2. What do they do?


Health / Business


They treat sick animals, but also do research to control animal diseases. They also advise owners on proper care of their pets and other animals. The veterinary profession is extremely competitive, but one of the most rewarding careers for those passionate about medicine and animals. If you’ve made up your mind to become a veterinarian, scour your community for opportunities to display your passion. Proving your commitment on paper isn’t easy, but having the right experience on a resume goes a long way towards demonstrating your drive and initiative as you begin moving towards your dream of becoming a veterinarian.

Daily Tasks:

These are some of the basic daily tasks of veterinarians. The different kinds of veterinarians will perform different tasks, such as:

  • Diagnoses animal health problems
  • Vaccinates against diseases, such as rabies
  • Medicates animals suffering from infections or illnesses
  • Treats and dresses wounds
  • Sets fractures
  • Performs minor to complex surgery, depending on training
  • Advises owners about animal feeding, behavior and breeding
  • Euthanizes animals when necessary
  • Provides preventive care to maintain the health of livestock
  • Performs diagnostic tests such as X-ray, EKG, ultrasound, blood, urine, and faeces

Where they work:


Veterinarians work mainly indoors, within a clinic, but can be called out to farms, ranches or wildlife sanctuaries to perform procedures.

Places of Employment –

Most veterinarians work in their own private practice, called clinics. Vets may be employed or contracted by hospitals, government agencies, educational institutions, wildlife management groups, zoos, aquariums, ranches, farming-related businesses, or pharmaceutical companies.

Different kinds of veterinarians:

There are different kinds of Vets, depending on the field they decided to focus on. As a Vet you might decide to focus (or specialize) in fields such as:

  • Anesthesia – Management of pain associated with veterinary procedures
  • Animal Welfare – Education, certification, and scientific investigation
  • Behaviour – Study of behaviour in both healthy and sick animals
  • Dentistry – Animals’ teeth
  • Dermatology – Diseases and conditions of animals’ skin
  • Emergency and Critical Care – ‘ER’ and intensive care
  • Internal Medicine – Specialties including cardiology (heart and circulatory system), neurology (brain, spinal cord, and nervous system), and oncology (tumours and cancer)
  • Laboratory Animal Medicine – Research or practice specializing in laboratory animal species (rabbits, rats, mice, etc.)
  • Microbiology – Study of viruses and bacteria
  • Nutrition – Animal diets and required nutrients
  • Ophthalmology – Diseases and conditions of the eye
  • Pathology – Examination of organs, tissues, and body fluids to diagnose disease
  • Pharmacology – Study of effects of drugs on animals
  • Preventative Medicine – Study of how diseases are spread and how they can be prevented
  • Radiology – X-ray, ultrasound, CAT scan, MRI, and other imaging procedures to see ‘inside’ an animal’s body
  • Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation – Returning animals to normal function after injury, illness, or surgery
  • Surgery – Specialization in performing surgeries: orthopedics (bones, joints, ligaments of the body’s skeletal system); soft tissue surgery (internal organs, non-bone tissues)
  • Theriogenology – Animal reproduction
  • Toxicology – Study of the effects of toxins/poisons and how to treat animals affected by them
  • Zoological Medicine – Zoo animals, free-living wildlife, aquatic species, and companion zoological animals

Average Salary:

South Africa: Annual salary of R470,000
Australia: Annual salary of AU$65,000
UK: Annual salary of £30,000
USA: Annual salary of $75,000.


Being a Veterinarian does have some difficult moments, and it’s good to know these things before you truly make a decision to pursue this career:

  • Most veterinarians are on call around the clock since emergencies can occur at any time. Schedules may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.
  • Dealing with sick animals and their distraught owners can be very stressful.
  • Vets may in certain circumstances need to put an animal to sleep, called euthanasia.
  • Sick or frightened animals may bite, kick, or otherwise injure those who are treating them.

​Future growth and Possibilities:

Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow by 9% annually, one of the highest for an occupation, mainly due to the growth in wildlife veterinary sciences. Globally 5 out of every 6 Veterinarians work in their own practices. The rest are employed in government, universities and laboratories. Close to 65% of Vets are male.

3. Which Skills are required?

The skills required for a career as a veterinarian can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship

Career Skills:

  • ​compassion for animals
  • a steady and patient nature
  • ​interest in the biological sciences
  • good powers of observation
  • have respect and love for animals and the ability to work with them
  • good coordination to handle instruments
  • good vision, hearing, stamina and health
  • able to think and act quickly and calmly in response to the animal​
Life Skills
Career Skills

4. Which Subjects must I have at School?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

5. What will I need to Study?

Minimum Requirements:

To become a Vet you will need to study towards a Doctoral Degree in Veterinary Sciences, starting out with a Bachelor’s in Veterinary Science (BVSc).


Most veterinarians focus on working with small domesticated animals and will direct their studies accordingly. Those that want to work with exotic animal, birds, wildlife or even zoo animals, tend to specialize their studies in these directions.


The duration of a Bachelor’s Degrees can be up to 4 years, and another 3 to 4 years for a Doctorate. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

Possible Career Preparation Paths:

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Possible Combined Career Paths:

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Training and apprenticeship:

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need as a veterinarian will be acquired through practice. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior veterinarian.

Join the Veterinarians Group in STEP 8 to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of all the people who enter the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

6. Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations

Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Learn more about requirements by joining OZT in STEP 8.

Professional Associations:

7. Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards veterinary studies.

Veterinarian Career_opt

8. Join the OZT community

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a veterinarian.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Veterinarian, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu, and search for something different.

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