A degree in veterinary medicine not only qualifies you to work as vet in clinical practice, but also opens doors to careers in areas ranging from government veterinary services, research and public health to wildlife conservation, animal welfare and charity work
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Animal physiotherapist
- 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.
It's useful to get a mixture of work experience with animals in various settings. This can include work shadowing a veterinary surgeon in clinical practice or working on farms and in stables, kennels, catteries or rescue centres. It's also good to get experience with both large and small animals.
You could look for voluntary experience with animal charities such as the RSPCA, PDSA or Blue cross.
You will also complete a period of work experience as part of your degree known as extra-mural studies (EMS) which will give you some real-life, hands-on work experience. This usually takes 38 weeks to complete and it will be a useful thing for you to discuss with potential employers.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
The majority of vets are employed in veterinary practices, varying from small to large, including animal hospitals. Mixed practices provide a breadth of experience, but many vets choose to care for particular animal groups such as exotic, small, farm, zoo/wildlife animals or horses.
There are also opportunities in other settings such as government, for example the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which employs vets working in operational, research and policy sectors. Jobs can be found with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) (animal welfare).
Other opportunities exist within zoos, animal welfare charities, wildlife conservation organisations, universities (teaching and research), the pharmaceutical industry, public health and the armed forces.
Skills for your CV
As a vocational degree, veterinary medicine equips you with the 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 and communication skills related to running a vet practice.
A number of other skills are developed that are valued by employers, such as:
- the ability to analyse and evaluate 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.
You may decide to go on to postgraduate study in order to develop your 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, often within a university or specialist practice.
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.
If you're interested in a career in academia or research you may 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 vast majority (91%) of veterinary medicine graduates are working as veterinarians (76%) or veterinary nurses (15%) 15 months after graduation.
|Working and studying||4.5|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Childcare, health and education||2.1|
|Business, HR and finance||0.4|
Find out what other graduates are doing after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.