Veterinary medicine

AGCAS editors
June, 2021

A degree in veterinary medicine not only qualifies you to work as vet in clinical practice, but also opens doors to careers in areas ranging from government veterinary services, research and public health to wildlife conservation, animal welfare and charity work

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Work experience

As part of your degree you'll need to complete a minimum of 38 weeks extra-mural studies (EMS), gaining real-life, hands-on work experience to enhance your university-based studies. This experience can include time in clinical practices, abattoirs, laboratories, farms, food production facilities, government veterinary services and other animal establishments. You can also complete an overseas placement.

You're expected to take responsibility for your own learning and get involved as much as you can. Practical experience will include work with various species, including companion animals such as cats and dogs, horses, farm animals and exotic species.

Some courses offer the opportunity to spend an additional year as part of an intercalated degree, providing you with the chance to specialise in an area of particular interest, such as pathology, conservation or zoology, to undertake research and to broaden your career opportunities. Taking this path means you'll graduate with both a veterinary medicine and a science degree.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

The majority of vets are employed in veterinary practices, varying from small to large, including animal hospitals. Mixed practices provide a breadth of experience, but many vets choose to care for particular animal groups such as exotic, small, farm, zoo/wildlife animals or horses.

There are opportunities in government, for example the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which employs vets working in operational, research and policy sectors. Jobs are mostly found with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Veterinary Medicine Directorate (VMD) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) (animal welfare).

Other opportunities exist within zoos, animal welfare charities such as the Blue Cross, PDSA and RSPCA, wildlife conservation organisations, universities (teaching and research), the pharmaceutical industry and the armed forces.

Find information on employers in environment and agriculture, science and pharmaceuticals, teaching training and education and otherjob sectors.

Skills for your CV

As a vocational degree, veterinary medicine equips you with the knowledge and skills that qualify you to work as a vet straight after graduation. The degree covers all aspects of animal health and disease, as well as the legal, environmental and ethical issues relating to animal welfare and public health. You also learn the relevant business and communication skills related to running a vet practice.

You also develop a range of other skills that are valued by employers, such as:

  • the ability to analyse and evaluate information
  • interpersonal and teamworking skills
  • oral and written communication skills
  • customer care
  • decision-making ability
  • problem-solving ability
  • project and time management skills
  • self-motivation and initiative.

Further study

Some graduates choose to go on to postgraduate study in order to develop their knowledge in a specialist area such as small animal surgery or equine medicine, or to move into a specialist job, for example veterinary cardiologist. Courses can be undertaken full time or part time while working, often within a university or specialist practice.

It's also possible to study for advanced professional qualifications while working. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, for example, offers the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP) aimed at qualified vets.

Graduates interested in a career in academia or research may require a PhD.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in animal care and veterinary science.

What do veterinary medicine graduates do?

The vast majority (94%) of veterinary medicine graduates are working as veterinarians fifteen months after graduation.

Destination Percentage
Employed 91.7
Further study 0.6
Working and studying 4.1
Unemployed 1.5
Other 2.1
Graduate destinations for Veterinary medicine
Type of work Percentage
Health 96.9
Childcare, health and education 0.8
Business, HR and finance 0.6
Business, HR and finance 0.6
Other 1.1
Types of work entered into in the UK

Find out what other graduates are doing after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Find out more

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