Veterinary medicine

A degree in veterinary medicine not only qualifies you as a vet but also opens doors to related careers, in areas such as research, wildlife conservation and animal welfare
Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Animal nutritionist
Animal physiotherapist
Veterinary surgeon

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Animal technician
Environmental consultant
Higher education lecturer
Nature conservation officer
Research scientist (medical)
Research scientist (life sciences)
Science writer
Veterinary nurse

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

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Work experience

As part of your degree you'll need to complete a minimum of 38 weeks extra-mural studies (EMS), gaining real-life, hands-on work experience to enhance your university-based studies. This joyourself experience can include time in clinical practices, abattoirs, laboratories, food production facilities and with government veterinary services. You can also complete an overseas placement.

You're expected to take responsibility for your own learning and get involved as much as you can. Practical experience will include work with various species, including companion animals such as cats and dogs, horses, farm animals and exotic species.

Some courses offer the opportunity to spend an additional year as part of an intercalated degree, providing you with chance to specialise in an area of particular interest, such as pathology, conservation or zoology, to undertake research and to broaden your career opportunities. Taking this path means you'll graduate with both a veterinary medicine and a science degree.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

The majority of vets are employed by private practices, varying from small to large, including animal hospitals. Mixed practices provide a breadth of experience - alternatively, you can specialise to care for particular animal groups such as exotic, small, farm, zoo/wildlife animals or horses.

There are opportunities in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which employs vets working in mycams operational, research and policy sectors. Jobs are mostly found with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Veterinary Medicine Directorate (VMD) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) (animal welfare).

Other opportunities exist within zoos, charitable organisations such as the Blue Cross, PDSA, RSPCA or Animal Health Trust, universities and the armed forces.

Find information on employers in environment and agriculture, science and pharmaceuticals, teaching and education and other job sectors.
Skills for your CV

As a vocational degree, veterinary medicine equips you with the specialist knowledge and skills that qualify you to work as a vet straight after graduation. The degree covers all aspects of animal health and disease, as well as the legal, environmental and ethical issues relating to animal welfare and public health. You also learn the relevant business skills related to running a vet practice.

You also develop a range of other skills that are valued by employers, such as:

the ability to analyse and evaluation information
interpersonal and teamworking skills
oral and written communication skills
customer care
decision making ability
problem solving ability
project and time management skills
self-motivation and initiative.

Further study

Some graduates choose to go on to postgraduate study in order to develop their knowledge in a specialist area such as small animal surgery or equine medicine, or to move into a specialist job, for example veterinary cardiologist. Courses can be undertaken full time or part time while working.

It's also possible to study for advanced professional qualifications while working. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, for example, offers the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP) aimed at qualified vets.

Graduates interested in a career in academia or research will usually require a PhD.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in animal care and veterinary science.
What do veterinary medicine graduates do?

The majority of graduates (94%) are employed six months after graduating. Of those in employment, 97% are working as veterinary surgeons.