How to Become A Vet
As a respected local vet practice, we receive lots of requests for work experience. As a result, we usually fully book out our available work experience placements up to a year in advance. Due to the high volume of applicants we receive, we also have to be very selective about who we take on. Many of these applicants contact us as they are interested in becoming a vet in the future. But what does it take to become a vet? This article should give you an idea of what you need to pursue a career as a qualified veterinary surgeon.
To become a vet you will need to REALLY want to be a vet. Becoming a vet requires hard work and dedication, and certainly isn’t easy. If your interest in the veterinary industry is fleeting, or you are not fully dedicated to qualifying, the profession may not be for you.
Training to be a veterinary surgeon requires a genuine love for animals of all types. As a vet, you will deal with sick and injured animals on a daily basis, some of which will not recover. You will also need to work with aggressive or scared animals. Most vets will end up with a decent number of scars by the time they retire, thanks to bites or scratches received at work. Being a vet is certainly not just cuddling puppies and kittens!
At this point, it is also worth pointing out that, considering the level of training required to become a vet, it is not a particularly well-paid profession. The average salary of a vet in the UK is typically far lower than a comparably experienced human GP. The website Payscale, for example, shows an average UK vet salary to be £33,000. A GP, on the other hand, is said to earn an average of £51,000. If you are only interested in becoming a vet for financial reward, it may be worth reconsidering.
Unsurprisingly, education is critical to becoming a vet. Your GCSE choices will not only be relevant when applying for vet school, they will also impact on whether you will be able to do the A-Levels that vet schools require. While the actual expected GCSE results vary from university to university, our nearest vet school (Liverpool) requires the following: A “minimum of seven GCSEs at grades AAABBBB or above, including Mathematics, English and Physics (either as a separate subject or as Dual Award Science)“. It’s safe to say that you will need to do well in your core subjects, particularly the sciences.
Again, A Level expectations will vary from university to university, but grade expectations are always high. Liverpool, for example, requires three A grades. You will usually need an A level in Biology and at least one other science.
When applying for vet school, most universities will require you to have some experience of a veterinary environment. You will also need experience of other animal husbandry environments, such as stables or kennels. Furthermore, there is usually an expectation for you to have done at least a few weeks work experience in a veterinary surgery. The more relevant work experience you are able to show, the more your application will stand out. Application numbers are always high, and making your application stand out gives you a far better chance of earning a place.
The above information describes the most common route that people take towards a career as a vet. There are, however, alternative routes. Pursuing a first degree in a related subject, such as Biology, before moving on to a veterinary degree can be a way to earn a place if your A Levels do not allow you straight in to vet school. Alternatively, English language courses abroad may offer slightly lower entry requirements than a UK vet school.
If you’ve made it through the above information and still want to become a vet, that’s fantastic! Despite the hard work and dedication required to work as a vet, it is an incredibly rewarding career. As with most jobs, you will have good days and bad days. But when your good days see pets go home to their families after serious illnesses or injuries, it really is worth it.
Due to the high volume of applicants we receive for work experience, we do have to take much of the above into account. Applicants who show that they are on the right road will receive preference over those who are unlikely to make it to vet school. With that in mind, please let us know how you are getting on at school if applying for work experience. It is also important to let us know that you intend on applying for vet school. Enquiries should be made in writing to our Company Administrator, either by post or email. Details can be found on our contact page.