Wildlife Veterinarian Career Profile

Do you want to work as a wildlife veterinarian?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for your career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 14 May 2023

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What is a Wildlife 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. A wildlife veterinarian studies even further to be able to work exclusively with wild animals.

Wildlife Vet

Further specialization is possible, as can be seen in these profiles:

Career Categories

The Animal Keeper falls within the following Career Categories:

  • Health
  • Business
  • Marine Conservation
  • Wildlife Conservation


Wildlife veterinarians do not just specialize in certain species, but may also in kinds of medicine, such as epidemiology, pathology, infectious diseases, toxicology

State employed?

Most of the certified wildlife veterinarians work for governments, overseeing the natural resources of their land, rivers and oceans

What does a Wildlife Veterinarian do?

Groups of animals a Wildlife Veterinarian works with

Mammals List Icon OZT
Birds List Icon OZT
Fish List Icon OZT
Reptiles List Icon OZT
Amphibians List Icon OZT
Crustaceans List Icon OZT
Mollusks Link Icon OZT
Critters List Icon OZT

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

What does a Wildlife Veterinarian focus on?

They treat sick wild animals in the outdoors, or wherever wild animals might be held captive to administer medical treatment and rehabilitation. They also do research to control animal diseases.

What are the daily tasks of a Wildlife Veterinarian?

  • 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 feces

In which environment does a Wildlife Veterinarian work in?

What are the environment and places of employment like?

Environment –

Wildlife veterinarians work primarily outdoors, but can spend time indoors doing surgery and running tests.

Places of Employment –

Most wildlife veterinarians work in their own private practices. Vets may be employed or contracted by hospitals, government agencies, educational institutions, wildlife management groups, game ranches, animal sanctuaries and rescue centers.

What is the Average Yearly Salary for a Wildlife Veterinarian?

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

Can Wildlife Veterinarians be promoted?

Promotion to senior levels are available in most careers. The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following for wildlife veterinarians who work for an organization:

Junior Veterinarian > Senior Veterinarian > Head Veterinarian > Department Manager or Director

What difficulties does a Wildlife Veterinarian face?

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.
  • Working in the wild is exactly what it means.
  • The outdoors can be dangerous and even life threatening.

Future Growth and Possibilities of the Career:

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.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills do Wildlife Veterinarians need?

The skills required for a career as a wildlife 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
Life Skills

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 wild animals​
Career Skills

Which Subjects must I have at School to help me prepare for this career?

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!

What will I need to Study to become a Wildlife Veterinarian?

Minimum educational qualification

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). To specialize in working with wildlife requires at least another 2 years of intense studies in wildlife medicine.

Subject focus

Studying veterinary medicine will automatically indicate the subjects to follow. You will only have a far broader choice as you start to specialize.

Study duration

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

FREE Career Path Plan

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 a road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Preparing for a career as a Wildlife Veterinarian involves a multifaceted approach that begins in high school and continues through tertiary education and beyond. Here’s a detailed career preparation path for a high school student interested in pursuing this career:

1. Attend Career Guidance Sessions

Understand the roles, responsibilities, and educational requirements of a Wildlife Veterinarian. Participate in career counselling sessions at school, attend veterinary career fairs, and meet professionals in the field to gather insights.

2. Research All Possible Careers

Explore various careers related to wildlife, veterinary medicine, and conservation. Use online resources, library books, and informational interviews with professionals to learn about different career paths.

3. Explore Educational Paths

Identify the educational requirements for becoming a wildlife veterinarian. Research universities and colleges offering veterinary medicine programmes and specialised courses in wildlife and conservation.

4. Align High School Subjects with the Educational Path

Take relevant courses that will prepare you for a veterinary degree. Focus on subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Environmental Science.

5. Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent

Graduate with the necessary academic background for higher education. Maintain good grades and meet all graduation requirements.

6. Learn About Animals You Will Work With

Gain knowledge about various wild animal species and their behaviours. Read books, watch documentaries, and participate in wildlife observation activities.

7. Align Post-School Path with Career Goals

Decide whether to enter a career/job directly, continue studying, or start a business. Develop a plan based on your interests and career goals. Most likely, this will involve pursuing further education in veterinary medicine.

8. Gain Experience Through Volunteering, Internships, Mentorships, etc.

Obtain hands-on experience working with animals and understanding their health needs. Volunteer at animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, zoos, and veterinary clinics. Seek internships and mentorship opportunities with experienced wildlife veterinarians.

9. Pursue Extracurricular Activities

Develop a well-rounded skill set and demonstrate your commitment to animal welfare. Join clubs related to animals and science, participate in science fairs, and engage in outdoor activities such as hiking and bird watching.

10. Join Professional Associations

Network with professionals and stay informed about the field. Become a student member of associations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or the Wildlife Disease Association (WDA).

11. Gain Specialized Skills

Acquire skills relevant to wildlife veterinary medicine. Take courses in wildlife biology, conservation, and veterinary techniques. Learn about anesthesia, surgery, and disease management specific to wild animals.

12. Network with Professionals

Build a professional network that can provide guidance and opportunities. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars. Connect with veterinarians, researchers, and conservationists.

13. Enter the Job Market After Tertiary Studies or Launch a Business

Start your career as a Wildlife Veterinarian. Apply for positions in wildlife rehabilitation centers, zoos, research institutions, and conservation organizations. Alternatively, consider starting your own veterinary practice focused on wildlife.

14. Stay Updated and Pursue Continuing Education

Keep up with advancements in veterinary medicine and wildlife conservation. Attend continuing education courses, earn certifications, and stay active in professional associations. Regularly read scientific journals and participate in relevant training programmes.

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 wildlife veterinarian.

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

Average level of education of those entering the career:

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

Licenses, Certifications, Registrations 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 the Community.

Professional Associations

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 zoology.

How do I start to prepare for this Career?

If you do decide on following this career, then OZT can assist you in figuring out a path to prepare, as well as help you to gain further knowledge about the career and the animals you will be working with. We do this by offering you FREE career development tools. There are almost a dozen free tools, but these are the three primary ones:


Use the career path plan above on this profile as an example to follow, or to work out your own path.

COST; Free

ACCESS: Open to visitors and Members 


Access easy-to-use short courses to make your career preparation easier! The basic information in each course is free, but the rewards can only be unlocked as an OZT member!

COST; Free

ACCESS: Open to visitors and Members 


Get a supercharged study guide that fits into the career path plan! Now that's really upping your preparation game! Join us for free to gain access!

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ACCESS: Members Only

But, if you are still uncertain about choosing this specific career, and even where to start, then have a look at our special series of WHAT NEXT courses (link below). They take you through all of the questions you might have on how to choose the right career, what to do while at and after school, and even how to start your own business.


Join the OZT community and career chat Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a wildlife 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 Wildlife 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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Contributions by expert members are always appreciated to allow the Students to make informed decisions. Please add your contribution through the attached Form:

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June 8, 2021 12:07 pm

this page is amazing! its provides the information i exactly need to become what i want to be

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