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Career Advice

How to become a Veterinary Surgeon

Vets are possibly my favourite people. If firefighter beats lawyer, and astronaut beats firefighter; vets beat astronauts. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, they’re probably the most underappreciated medical professionals in society. In fact, the only people that seem to understand their benefit are vet.pgGodfather type mobsters in Hollywood. Secondly, I’m a massive animal nut, so anyone that devotes their career to helping Lassie and the like, I’ll be fond of.

Having said that – it is a rigorous course to become one, and while I’d certainly not object to many more vets in the world, it won’t be for everyone. It isn’t, after all, entirely based around giving Daisy the cat her annual worms tablets. But we’ll get into that later. First…here’s a brief guide on How to become a Veterinary Surgeon.


A degree in veterinary science/medicine is an absolute must in order to be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. There are seven universities which offer the course, including the RVC in London and the Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Nottingham. The fees and entry grades will vary depending on where you’re hoping to study, but the majority are five year courses that require a minimum of 2 As and a B at A-Level (including Biology and preferably a second science subject). If however, you don’t have these necessary grades, some universities offer six year courses which cover the relevant background that is needed.


For something like veterinary, the experience universities are looking for is thankfully fairly clear cut. It boils down to time spent working with animals, either in farms, veterinary surgeries, animal charities, stables or elsewhere. This experience is particularly essential today, as there is – with growing numbers of people studying veterinary at university – greater competition in finding employment in the field (did we mean that as a pun? No actually, but we’re happy with how it turned out) afterwards. Contact a local farmer or animal shelter and ask if they would be willing to let you give a hand. The former in particular would likely appreciate it come lambing season.

Type of person

It should go without saying that a strong commitment to animal welfare and rights will need to be forefront among your priorities. You also need to understand that vets are like doctors, in that when an animal is seriously sick, it will need attention there and then. This can mean the difference to a farmer of a dairy cow worth £3,000 living or dying; or the difference between a man losing man’s best friend. In addition to this, it won’t always be possible to save someone’s pet or farmyard resident, and in such circumstances vets are expected to be understanding, compassionate and make level headed decisions about what is best for the animal. In addition to this, veterinary is obviously an extremely challenging course with frequent exams in both theory and practical aspects. A good study ethic therefore is a must if you hope to be in with a chance of graduating.

How to become a vet

Research, research, research. Find out which veterinary course you are eligible to study and see if there are any grants for which you might be applicable to help funding. Continue working as much as possible with animals to prove you display the necessary ambition. Finally, be as understanding as possible when somebody – possibly a writer for an employability website – turns up, thinking they are an idiot of the highest order for crying when their cat has to be put down. (RIP Cantona & Oscar.)

Written by Ethan Loughrey 

Looking for a job, but not too sure what career path to follow? Check out TheEmployable “How to Become” career directory


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