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Careers in veterinary medicine

vet surgery careerIf you’re interested in becoming a vet, you could work in a range of environments from zoos to universities. Here's a brief outline of the kind of options open to you once you qualify.

There is a relatively small number of veterinary surgeons in the UK (around 20,000), but they play an essential role in looking after the country’s animals from our smallest pets, to the largest safari park inhabitants.

General practice

In this role, the vet is in charge of disease prevention and the medical and surgical treatment of animals including household pets, zoo animals, farm animals and horses. Opportunities exist in practices that specialise in small animals, food producing animals, horses, or in mixed practices where they deal with a range of animals.

Veterinary teaching and research

Veterinary researchers play a vital role in advancing our understanding of diseases. Research in veterinary sciences is vital in supporting the health of both food producing animals and pets. They also play a vital role in protected humans from animal diseases, which may come through food or other means.

Research is undertaken at the university veterinary schools and at research institutes, departments financed by government, in laboratories and by private businesses. Many careers in research span the gap between human and veterinary medicine.

Government service

Many opportunities exist within the public sector. Veterinary surgeons are involved in protecting public health in government departments and agencies such as the Food Standards Agency, the Meat Hygiene Service, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) employs vets to monitor animal health and to prevent the spread of diseases.

Other opportunities

Other opportunities exist in commerce and industry such as in pharmaceutical companies, in international and overseas organisations and consultancies and charities such as the RSPCA and PDSA. The veterinarian's broad scientific training is also of value in areas such as wildlife and environmental conservation.

Related links

(Information taken from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons)