What does a veterinarian do?

A veterinarian diagnoses, prevents and treats disease in animals as well as providing care information to animal owners. They advise measures on the prevention of disease spread throughout livestock and other animals, and means for improving health standards. A veterinarian may work in a clinic or outdoors visiting livestock, with exotic animals in wildlife sanctuaries or attending animals at events such as animal racing. They may provide information on breeding productivity and genetics as well as performing medical diagnostic tests and treatments.

Tasks:

  • Examine and diagnose a variety of sick and injured animals
  • Advise owners on correct care of pets and livestock
  • Vaccinate against infectious diseases
  • Perform diagnostic tests such as X-rays, blood, urine
  • Anaesthetise animals, perform surgery and set/dress wounds

What skills do I need to be a veterinarian?

Working as a veterinarian requires the ability to communicate well with people, as you may be working in a team and with animal owners. You must be interested in the care and welfare of animals, and have an aptitude for science and medicine as well as an empathy for all creatures, and feel comfortable in the presence of and dealing with a variety of animals.

Skills/attributes
  • Inquisitive with good problem-solving skills
  • Kind, empathetic and caring
  • A keen interest in animal health care
  • Aptitude for science and technology
  • Manual dexterity to perform procedures

Specialisations

Veterinarians can pursue a number of exciting career pathways involving different animals, work locations and environments. Once qualified, a veterinarian may choose to work in a practice, with unusual pets and animals, in pathology, wildlife and conservation and much more. Veterinarians can undergo further training to become registered as a specialist in a variety of roles including surgery, dermatology and cardiology.

Veterinary pathology

Veterinary pathologists work in clinics found in major cities all over Australia. Requiring two years’ of additional training and a qualifying exam through the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, they work in the field of histology, virology, toxicology and more, often working alongside other veterinarians who have sent samples for diagnosis.

Wildlife and conservation

Work in this field usually requires postgraduate study in an area targeted towards developing a more in depth understanding of conservational science. Veterinarians in this field often undertake research into animals in a particular habitat, and closely monitor things such as breeding and reproductive habits.

Cattle practice

A veterinarian undertaking cattle practice plays an important role in fertility and reproductive treatment in cattle. They provide surgical aid and help in pregnancy procedures, as well as providing care to the whole herd. The job is usually based in rural areas, and provides the veterinarian with the opportunity to travel throughout Australia.

Study pathways for veterinarian

An undergraduate or postgraduate degree in veterinary science is required to work as a qualified veterinarian.

Getting Started

If you’re not quite ready to pursue a 5-year university degree, a vocational qualification can get you ready to work as a veterinary nurse or captive animal handler.

Skill Building

You will need to score a competitive entry rank in order to enrol in a Bachelor of Veterinary Science – the minimum undergraduate requirement to become a vet.

Professional Development

Numerous options for postgraduate career development exist, including opportunities in veterinary public health and management.

Industry Recognition

After completion of your veterinary science degree you will need to register with the veterinary registration board of the state you practise in.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your veterinary career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for veterinary jobs.

Job Prospects and Salaries

Veterinarians are projected to secure stable employment for the next 10 years, with a high proportion employed in full-time work. Salaries are above the national average, at $75,000 on average.