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What is a vet? Duties & responsibilities
A veterinarian is a medical professional whose specialty is the care and treatment of animals. Although most people go to the vet when their pets have an illness or injury, vets can also take care of other types of animals such as livestock and wildlife.
In addition to working at a clinic, conducting research, or teaching veterinary medicine at a university, vets can also consult on things like biosecurity and animal welfare. Below are just some the duties you may perform as a veterinarian:
- Consultation & diagnostics
- Surgery & radiography (x-rays)
- Medicine prescriptions
- Hygiene & care advice
- Animal disease prevention & treatment
Aside from this, you must also follow the code of conduct set by the Australian Veterinary Association.
How do you become a vet in Australia?
The most basic requirement for becoming a vet is a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science or medicine. Another option is to take another science or medicine-related undergraduate course, followed by a doctorate degree in veterinary medicine. After you complete your studies, you must register with the Veterinary Surgeons Board or the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board in your state.
What special qualifications & traits do you need?
If you want to practice vet med, you will need the following credentials:
- A Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Science/Medicine OR any science undergraduate degree
- A Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Science/Medicine
- Registration with a veterinarian board in the state you are going to practice in
More than these requirements, you’ll need to possess certain skills, traits, and other qualities if you want to have a successful veterinary career. Below are just some of the few you need to check off:
- Love for animals
- Discipline & time management
- Manual dexterity/hand-eye coordination
- Interpersonal & communication skills
How long does it take to become a vet?
It takes roughly five to seven years to become a veterinarian in Australia. For the first three or four years, you will be earning your bachelor’s degree. This is followed by three to four years in a post-graduate institution or less if you took an integrated program. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field (science/medicine), you can apply directly to vet school.
Can you become a vet online?
Some universities offer distance learning or online veterinary courses in Australia. However, in some cases, you’ll still need to attend certain classes in person, especially for practical courses with hands-on learning. Universities that offer online/distance learning for vet med include the Charles Stuart University, the University of New England, the University of Melbourne, and Federation University Australia.
You can also become a veterinary nurse (which is different from a vet) at the Australian College of Veterinary Nursing, which offers flexible study through its online learning centre. They even have a short course (at a small fee) that gives you a ‘taste’ of what it’s like to study veterinary medicine, which you can receive credit for in case you decide to pursue vet nursing.
What is it like working as a vet in Australia?
According to PayScale, the average salary of a veterinarian in Australia is $AUD 65,643, although you can earn significantly more by getting more experience or specialising in a certain field. There are also plenty of job openings for veterinarians, with the Australian Government’s Job Outlook initiative estimating very high growth in the future.
The reason for that, however, isn’t entirely positive – Australian vets are leaving the industry thanks to poor working conditions, poor work-life balance, and the heavy emotions vets sometimes have to go through. Expect long hours (especially if you’re on-call) and a demanding workload.
How to become a vet
- Complete your bachelor’s degree in veterinary science or medicine at an accredited university. Alternatively, you could complete any bachelor’s degree in science or take an integrated undergraduate/post-graduate program
- Earn your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at an accredited university. If you took an integrated program, you will go straight from your undergraduate degree to your doctorate, reducing the time it takes to become a vet from seven to eight years down to around five.
- Register with the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board or the Veterinary Surgeons Board (depending on your specialty) in the state you want to practice in.
- Congratulations, you are now a veterinarian in Australia!
BONUS: If you’d like, you can take additional courses and specialise in a particular field. A veterinarian can focus on internal medicine, orthopaedics, microbiology, and several other specialisations.
Challenging but rewarding
Becoming a vet is a hard, time-consuming process. But for dedicated animal lovers, years of study is nothing compared to the satisfaction and fulfilment they get from being a vet.