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How to become a veterinarian in Australia: careers in animal care

How to become a veterinarian in Australia: careers in animal care
Veterinarians are highly trained medical professionals who look after the health and wellbeing of all kinds of animals by diagnosing and treating disease, mending injuries and performing surgery. Some veterinarians focus on specific types of animals such as domestic pets, wildlife, livestock or horses. Others may choose to practise in a specialised field such as surgery or dentistry. Veterinarians in Australia need to have an appropriate undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

Being a veterinarian: daily duties

Veterinarians diagnose, prevent and treat diseases in animals and provide care information to animal owners. This can include examining animals and performing diagnostic tests as well as treating animals using drugs and surgical procedures They vaccinate animals to prevent diseases and advise owners and breeders about health care. Veterinarians also have to notify authorities about outbreaks of animal diseases as well as certifying animals for export. They must also euthanize animals humanely to end pain, suffering and the spread of disease. They can work indoors or outdoors depending on the nature of their employment.


  • Examination and diagnosis of sick and injured animals
  • Advise owners on care
  • Vaccinate against diseases
  • Perform diagnostic tests
  • Prescribe medicine for animals

Being a veterinarian: skills for success

Veterinarians need to be able to communicate well with people as they work closely with teams of people and with the owners of animals.. A genuine interest in the care and welfare of animals is a must, as well as being comfortable dealing with them. Veterinarians need to have an aptitude for science and medicine, patience and excellent problem solving skills.
  • Good problem solving skills
  • Kindness and empathy
  • Interest in animal health care
  • Aptitude for science and technology
  • Manual dexterity
  • Specs

    Specialised roles within animal care

    There are a number of career pathways that veterinarians can pursue if they choose to specialise, involving different animals, environments and work locations. They may choose to work with unusual pets and animals in a veterinary practice, in pathology, or in a wildlife conservation role. Veterinarians can also become specialists in various fields of animal medicine such as surgery, cardiology or dermatology.
    • Veterinary pathology
      Requiring two years of additional training and a qualifying exam through the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, veterinary pathologists are involved in histology, virology, toxicology and more, working along side other veterinarians who have sent them samples to diagnose.
    • Wildlife and conservation
      Veterinarians working in wildlife and conservation often undertake research into animal habitats and closely monitor activities such as breeding and reproduction. Generally a postgraduate qualification is needed to work in this field.
    • Cattle practice
      This role involves managing fertility and reproductive treatments in cattle. These veterinarians provide surgical aid in pregnancy procedures and care to the whole herd.

    Educational pathways for veterinarians

    To work as a veterinarian in Australia, an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in veterinary science is required.
    • Start your career
      Start out in the animal care industry with a vocational qualification to work as a veterinary nurse or captive animal handler.
    • Strengthen your skills
      A competitive entry rank is needed to enrol in a Bachelor of Veterinary Science – the minimum degree required to become a vet.
    • Build your resume
      Find a postgraduate course to develop your career further and specialise.
    • Industry requirements
      Once you have completed your degree in veterinary science, you need to register with your state or territory’s veterinary registration board in order to practise.
    • Finding Work
      Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your animal care career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
    • Employment Prospects
      Employment prospects for veterinarians are projected to remain stable for the next 10 years, with the majority of roles being full-time.

    Resources for Veterinarians

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