A vet works as an animal doctor, diagnosing and treating injured or sick animals and are often thought to earn really high wages. But is this true and what do they have to do in order to become a vet?
It is often said that vets need as much training as a doctor but this may not necessarily be true. A full time degree usually takes five years which is two years longer than most undergraduate degree courses. However, if they already have an undergraduate degree they may be able to just study for four years, which would take their total study time to seven years. The degree needs to be approved by the RCVS in order to lead to a career and the person will also need to be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. It will also be necessary to have experience working in a veterinary practice before you can start a career. Not only will you need to be good at managing animals but you will also need to be able to communicate well with their owners, be good at problem solving and decision making and have management and business skills. This is because you could be running a practice and therefore will have staff to manage. You will also be dealing with pet owners, who could be very emotional and possibly also struggling with the financial cost of the treatment.
What Vets do
There are different places where vets can work. Most people would imagine them working in a practice but there are also opportunities for working for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, in research or teaching. In a practice you would be dealing with customers bringing in animals for appointments and you would need to vaccinate them or diagnose them and then treat them including prescribing medication and operating them. You may be working with larger animals on farms where you could also help stop the spread of diseases. You would also be responsible for supporting the practice staff and managing the practice. In public health roles you could investigate the spread of diseases and in industry you may develop and test drugs and do hygiene checks.
Obviously the type of job a vet does will have an effect on their salary as well as their location. However the salary does tend to be based on experience. A newly qualified vet could expect around £30,00 which could rise t £35,00 – £44,000 as they get more experienced and a highly experienced vet could get in excess of £50,000. However, they do work hard for the money normally working a 43 hour week and being on call days and nights for emergencies. The job can be physically as well as mentally demanding due to having to lift animals and restrain them. There could be the chance to earn more money by taking a postgraduate course and specialise in the treatment of specific animals or specific health areas.