How to Become a Veterinarian: Australian Careers in Animal Care

Veterinarians deal with an incredible variety of animals; from domestic pets to livestock to native wildlife. Because your daily tasks will never be the same, you must be able to move easily between the different varieties of cases and species of animals. Veterinarians usually specialise in a particular area, working out of a local clinic or practice or in research. A veterinarian must carry a qualification, usually in the form of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, taking between four to six years to complete at most universities. Once you have earned your qualification, you will need to register with the veterinary surgeon board, depending on which state you choose to practice.

  • Task Career in focus: What a veterinarian does

    A veterinarian cares deeply about the health and wellbeing of all animals, and helps animals and their owners treat illnesses and injuries through treatment and prevention programs. Depending what sort of species you would like to work with, a veterinarian can work in a clinic for domestic animals, or in an outdoor or national park setting, working with livestock or wildlife, as well as attending inspections and investigations to ensure animal wellbeing rights are being adhered to. As well as providing medical tests and treatment and surgical procedures, you may also assist with providing information on breeding behaviours and genetics.

    Tasks:

    • Help heal sick or injured animals
    • Provide onsite or emergency animal care
    • Implement prevention programs such as vaccinations
    • Conduct diagnostic tests including collecting samples
    • Anaesthetise animals when necessary
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a veterinarian

    As well as being an animal lover, a veterinarian is caring of animals that are often of high emotional value to their owner, so you will need to be able to effectively communicate with your clients in an empathetic but factual manner. Because you will be administering medication, you will need to be able to understand the chemical makeup of these medicines and how this will affect different types and sizes of animals.

    Skills/attributes
    • Analytical and problem solving approach
    • Ability to care for animals and their owners
    • A strong passion for animal health and happiness
    • Good understanding of medicine, chemistry and animal science
    • Able to work under pressure and make sound judgement calls
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within animal care

    Veterinarians have a wide variety of different career pathways that give you the opportunity to explore different roles, locations and challenges. Most qualified veterinarians work with domestic or unusual pets in a local clinic, or you may like to practice in a wildlife sanctuary or zoo. Veterinarians can take on further training to become qualified as a specialist in a variety of roles including surgery, dermatology and dentistry.

    Veterinary pathology

    Veterinary pathologists often work alongside other veterinarians in most major cities by examining samples and providing specialist diagnosis. As a pathologist, you will be required to undertake additional study (usually two years) and pass a qualifying test through the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists.

    Wildlife and conservation

    If you have a passion for animals as well as nature, there are roles available that deal with wellbeing of wildlife as well as the conservation of the environment or habitat in which they live. In this field, veterinarians often have a qualification in conversational science and will study a particular species in its natural habitat.

    Cattle practice

    If you enjoy the farming or rural life, helping farmers in the fertility and reproduction of their cattle is very rewarding, and can often see you travelling around regional areas of Australia. You will assist livestock improve on their fertility health as well as monitor them throughout their pregnancies and help with emergency delivery procedures.
  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a veterinarian

    To work as a qualified veterinarian, you will first need to acquire an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in veterinary science.

    Starting Out

    A university degree is a long-term time commitment, so if you first want to try working in the sector, before you commit to long-term education, you can first gain a vocational qualification, starting out as a veterinary nurse. 

    Building Skills

    To enrol in a Bachelor of Veterinary Science, all universities require a high ranking score. 

    Developing Your Resume

    There are lots of opportunities available to you in your postgraduate careers and a well-developed resume can see you working in a high-level management-type role. 

    Industry Recognition

    Depending on what state you wish to practice in, you will need to register with your state veterinary registration board, once you are qualified.

    Entering the Workforce

    To give yourself a polished resume to make you stand out from the crowd, check out our sample resumes and cover letters.

    Job Prospects in Animal Care: Working life as a veterinarian

    Over the next 10 years, prospects for veterinarians are stable, giving you a good chance to secure full-time employment with an above-average salary of $75,000.

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