How to Become A Vet in The UK

How to Become A Vet in The UK
Do you dream of working as a vet? Read our in-depth guide to find out everything you need to know about how to become a vet in the UK.

What Does a Vet Do?

As a vet, you will use your practical skills and knowledge of veterinary medicine to diagnose and treat sick and injured animals. Some examples of tasks you may complete as part of your everyday work include:

  • Performing operations
  • Performing tests (e.g. blood analysis, X-rays and scans)
  • Carrying out regular health checks
  • Giving vaccinations
  • Euthanise animals
  • Examining farm animals and advising farmers how to stop the spread of disease

What Skills & Qualities Do You Need to Become A Vet?

To succeed as a vet, you will need to have a detailed knowledge of your field in addition to a number of certain skills and qualities. Some of these include:

  • Knowledge of medicine, dentistry and biology
  • The ability to communicate with pet owners and farmers
  • Attention to detail
  • A cool head in stressful situations
  • Decision-making skills
  • The ability to work well with your hands
  • A passion for animal welfare

Reasons to Become a Vet

You Get to Help Animals

Working as a vet is immensely rewarding because you get to help sick and injured animals. As a vet, you will be able to use your specialised skills and knowledge to help animals in their time of need. This passion for animal welfare will help you maintain your desire to do a good job even on the hardest days:

Being a veterinarian is not glamorous. It is often an ugly, depressing, heart-wrenching job. To say that it is stressful is a gross understatement… I’m here because I make a difference. Because I can handle the bad and cherish the good. Because I won’t let people define me by their parameters. Because I believe that, in the long run, I can improve the education level of my clients and the quality of life of my patients.Ocrtrivet

The Work is Varied and Interesting

As a vet, no two days will be the same. You will never know what could come through the door, so you will get to treat a variety of animals and treat a diverse range of injuries and conditions.

You Will Earn a Good Salary

Veterinary medicine is typically well-remunerated, and this career path offers excellent stability and a wide variety of opportunities.

It’s A Good Way to Get Involved in the Community

Vets are valued members of the community. As part of your work, you will get to know many members of the community through treating their animals. You will also play a key role by educating the wider community about animal health and welfare.

You Love A Challenge

Animals can’t communicate how they feel, so it can be a challenge to diagnose issues. As such, a career in veterinary medicine is well-suited to people who excel at problem-solving.

You’re Passionate About Learning

As a vet, you will have a responsibility to continually upskill even after you leave university. You can stay up to date with the latest innovations in veterinary medicine through lectures, reading, presentations and conferences. In the UK, vets can undertake a wide range of specialist courses. We list these in more detail below.

Is A Career in Veterinary Medicine for You?

The path to becoming a vet can be challenging, so it’s important that you invest some time to ensure that this career is the right fit for you. Some questions you may want to ask yourself before deciding to study veterinary medicine include:

  • What are my motivations for becoming a vet?
  • Do I enjoy working with animals and people?
  • Can I stay calm in high-pressure situations?
  • Am I squeamish?
  • Will I be able to emotionally cope with the distressing aspects of being a vet?
  • How Much Do Vets Get Paid in the UK?

    Your salary will vary depending on several factors, such as:

    • Your level of education
    • Your chosen specialisation
    • Whether you’re working as a practice partner
    • The size and location of your practice

    In general, vets in the UK earn between £30, 000 to £50,000. Newly-qualified vets typically start at £30,000 and this may rise to £72,000 after about 20 years’ experience.

    via GIPHY

    How Long Does It Take to Become A Vet in the UK?

    Full-time veterinary degrees in the UK usually take 5 years. However, if you already have a degree in a related subject, you may be able to take a 4-year graduate entry veterinary degree course.

    What Are the Steps to Become a Vet in the UK?

    1. To be eligible to apply for a Veterinary Medicine university course in the UK, you will need:

    • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 7 (A* to B), including English, maths, chemistry and biology
    • 3 A levels with good grades, including chemistry and biology

    2. Prior to applying, try to get some relevant work experience in order to show your enthusiasm for the career. Some options include: your local veterinary surgery, stables, farms, kennels/catteries, zoos or abattoirs. Competition for entry into veterinary medicine undergraduate programmes is fierce, so attaining relevant experience will help to give you an edge over other candidates.

    3. If you do not meet the academic criteria to enter into an undergraduate programme, then there is another pathway of which you can avail. Some universities in the UK offer a six-year course which caters to candidates who come from varying backgrounds. The first year of this course prepares the student for the usual five-year degree.

    4. You will need to complete a degree in veterinary medicine which has been approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). There are currently eight institutions which offer this qualification in the UK.

    5. As part of your undergraduate training, you will need to undertake extra-mural studies (EMS). The aim of this is to enhance your academic studies with a minimum of 38 weeks hands-on work experience.

    6. Upon graduation, you’ll have to complete the RCVS professional development phase (PDP). This is designed to help you transition from life as a student to a professional veterinary surgeon. As part of this, you must do at least 35 hours of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) every year.

    7. Once you become a practicing vet, you can study for further qualifications. You may choose to specialise by taking a RCVS-approved postgraduate course. If you attain RCVS Recognised Specialist Status you can offer consultation in your chosen field.

    Your Career Options as A Vet

    If you would like to become a vet in the UK, there are plenty of employment options to choose from. Some of the top employers of vets include:

    • General and specialist veterinary practices
    • Animal hospitals
    • Zoos and aquariums
    • Animal charities
    • Animal shelters and wildlife sanctuaries
    • Universities and research institutes
    • Pharmaceutical companies
    • Government agencies
    • The military
    • Horse and greyhound racing

    What Are the Different Types of Vet?

    Why Study Veterinary Medicine Abroad in Europe?

    Our partner universities in Europe offer a very high quality of education. They adhere to international standards and provide internationally-recognised and fully-accredited English-language veterinary medicine undergraduate programmes. If you have trained overseas then you will need to register with the RCVS in order to work as a vet in the UK.

    What’s more, the popularity of veterinary studies has skyrocketed while the number of spots in vet schools remain limited. Fierce competition for university places in the UK means that many talented candidates are unfairly missing out on the chance to follow their dreams of becoming a vet. Opening yourself up to the possibility of studying overseas means will massively boost your of securing a place in a prestigious university.

    Another major bonus of studying abroad is that you can enjoy significantly lower tuition fees as and living costs. This means that you can start your career without the burden of school debt holding you back.

    Studying in a foreign university offers you the chance to go on the adventure of a lifetime during which you can explore a brand new country and culture. Furthermore, the skills you develop (e.g. language skills, problem solving, making friends etc.) in this time may prove to be helpful in your future job-seeking efforts.

    Click here to learn more about studying veterinary medicine in English in Europe.