How To Become A Veterinarian in Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become a vet nurse in Australia, what subjects are needed, plus the vet school requirements, including the cost of becoming a vet.


If your passion is helping animals and making them feel better, becoming a veterinarian is a great choice.


While the journey through veterinary school can be tough, the outcomes make it an exciting and fulfilling career. As veterinary techniques advance, continuous learning is vital for career-building.


With a veterinary degree, you can pursue various paths, such as specializing, working with different animals, or even getting involved in government roles like biosecurity and trade.


If you're considering this career, check out this comprehensive guide on becoming a veterinarian in Australia.



1. What Is a Vet?


A vet or a veterinarian is a medical professional who protects the well-being and health of animals and gives them the necessary treatment. They diagnose, examine, and handle animals of all types and sometimes may even perform surgeries.


Like a doctor working in a medical profession to treat people, veterinary surgeons are also trained to use surgical tools and equipment.


Veterinarians usually work in different settings, such as veterinary hospitals, vet clinics, laboratories, and zoos. Additionally, vets in rural areas often work closely with farmers to improve the productivity and health of animals and prevent the spread of any disease.



2. Duties And Responsibilities of a Vet


Apart from conducting research, working at a clinic, or teaching veterinary medicine at a university, vets can also offer animal welfare or biodiversity consultations. 


Here are some of the duties you may carry out as a veterinarian:


  • Test for and vaccinations against diseases.

  • Perform surgery on animals.

  • Perform gynaecological and obstetric procedures on animals.

  • Examine animals to assess their health and diagnose problems. 

  • Operate medical equipment like x-ray machines.

  • Prescribe medications.

  • Treat and dress wounds.

  • Provide hygiene and care advice to animal owners. 

  • Humanely euthanise animals when required. 



Besides, you must follow the code of conduct established by the Australian Veterinary Association.



3. Becoming A Veterinarian In Australia


The most basic requirement to become a vet in Australia is to get a bachelor's degree in veterinary science. An alternative option is to opt for another medical-related or science undergraduate course and a doctoral degree in veterinary science.


After you complete your studies, you need to register with the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board or the Veterinary Surgeons Board in your state. Registration with the board permits you to practise veterinary medicine in that state.


A few Australian universities also provide internationally recognised veterinary courses that allow you to practise overseas once you have successfully graduated.


Here are the top universities in Australia that offer veterinary degrees:


  • The University of Queensland

  • The University of Adelaide

  • The University of Sydney 

  • The University of Melbourne

  • James Cook University (Townsville, QLD)

  • Charles Sturt University (Wagga Wagga, NSW)

  • Murdoch University (Perth, WA)


Regarding scope, each veterinarian course offered by Australian universities is slightly different. Therefore, you should thoroughly research every educational program to see what matches your interests.


Several other universities in Australia provide animal science courses, which opens a pathway for further study in an accredited veterinary course. This further enables students to get acknowledgement from the specific state board and practise as a veterinarian.


Suppose you are a high school student interested in becoming a veterinarian. In that case, you should directly contact the university where you wish to apply and inquire about the course requirements and marks you need to get admission.


You can also discuss this with a veterinarian career advisor who will help you to choose the right course and provide additional details about the Australian universities that offer veterinary courses.


Furthermore, various university faculties conduct open days annually, which allows you to talk about the course with recent graduates or current students.



4. How Long Does It Take To Become A Vet?


It may take roughly five and seven years to become a vet in Australia. Depending on the university, you will earn your bachelor's degree in the first three to four years. After that, it will take another three or four years to complete post-graduation from an accredited institution. 


It may take less time if you choose an integrated program. Remember, if you already have an undergraduate degree in a medicine-related or science field, you can directly apply for a vet school.



5. Can You Take A Vet Course Online?


Some universities in Australia offer online or distance-learning veterinary courses. However, you might have to attend in-person classes to get a hands-on learning experience for practical lessons. The Australian universities that offer distance learning or online courses include:


  • The University of Melbourne 

  • The University of New England

  • Charles Sturt University 

  • Federation University Australia 


If you are wondering how to become a vet nurse, you can apply for a course at ACVN (Australian College of Veterinary Nursing). They offer flexible study options through their online learning centre. 


Apart from that, you can even take up a short course at ACVN that will give you an idea of what it is like to study a veterinary course. This will further enable you to receive credit points if you pursue vet nursing.



6. What Qualifications And Unique Traits Do You Need To Become A Vet?


As mentioned above, if you want to become a vet in Australia, you need to fulfil specific qualification requirements like:


  • An undergraduate degree in Veterinary Science, Veterinary Medicine, or any bachelor's degree in science.

  • A doctoral degree in Veterinary Medicine or Veterinary Science. 

  • Registration with the veterinarian board in a particular state where you want to practice veterinary medicine.



Besides fulfilling these requirements, you also need unique traits, skills, and other qualities to have a successful career as a veterinarian. Below are some unique characteristics that a veterinarian should possess.



  • Compassion: Veterinarians must show compassion when working with animals and their owners. They must treat animals with respect and kindness and be sympathetic when advising the owners of sick pets. 


  • Interpersonal skills: Veterinarians need to possess strong communication skills so that they can easily explain treatment options or give recommendations to animal owners. Interpersonal skills also help veterinarians to provide the correct instructions to their staff. 


  • Problem-solving Skills: To determine why an animal is in poor health, veterinarians need quick problem-solving skills to treat various animals and ailments. In addition, vets who choose the effects of drug therapies and test animals also require exceptional diagnostic skills. 


  • Management Skills: A vet needs proper management skills to run laboratories and clinics or to direct a team of inspectors or technicians. In a work setting, veterinarians are responsible for delegating work, providing direction, and monitoring daily operations.


  • Decision-making Skills: Veterinarians must know the correct method for determining animal illnesses and treating injuries. For instance, it can be challenging to euthanise a sick animal, requiring quick and robust decision-making skills. 


  • Manual Dexterity: As veterinarians need to be precise when performing surgeries or treating injuries, manual dexterity is essential because their hand movements must be under control. 



7. Careers For Veterinarians In Australia


Vet students can find a wide range of job opportunities after they complete their veterinary course and register as veterinary practitioners. Here are some veterinary roles you can undertake:


  • You can work as a general practitioner and care for minor and severe cases. In this role, you will deal with many species and perform several tasks, including radiographysurgery, reproductive work, dentistry, behavioural consultation, and medicine. Most veterinarians who are general practitioners or clinicians work in their local communities. 


  • You can also choose to specialise in one field and become a recognised specialist. For this, you need to undertake further study or training (usually for a few years) and pass an entrance exam in one field, such as dentistry, orthopedic surgery, behaviour, feline medicine, and more. 


  • If you are not into clinical work, you can choose other diverse relief veterinarian jobs that require veterinary experience and expertise. These roles may include working on animal welfare laws with the state government, overseeing animal use at universities, or helping implement strict biosecurity laws with the federal government in Australia. 


  • Other than that, veterinarians can be found working in animal shelters, laboratories, the livestock industry, export abattoirs, and working behind the scenes in non-government and government organisations. 



8. How Much Do Veterinarians Earn In Australia?


Based on PayScale, veterinarians in Australia have an average salary of approximately AU$ 66,000. Similarly, veterinary nurses in Australia earn an average of AU$ 25.23 per hour.


However, experience level and work location are crucial in determining their salary. Further, specialising in a specific field or gaining additional experience can lead to higher earnings.



Salary Based on Experience


  • Entry-level (<1-year experience): AU$21.96 per hour

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$24.19 per hour

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$26.50 per hour

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$27.19 per hour 

  • In their late career (20 years and above): AU$27 per hour



Highest Paying Locations for Veterinary Nurses in Australia


  • Gatton: $80,953 per year

  • Perth: $69,415 per year

  • Murdoch: $60,071 per year

  • Roseworthy: $57,333 per year

  • Stirling: $55,375 per year

  • Rosebery: $55,332 per year

  • North Melbourne: $54,551 per year

  • Wahroonga: $37,735 per year

  • Sydney: $34,580 per year




9. What Is It Like to Work as A Vet in Australia?


Most veterinarians in Australia work full-time, contributing up to 40 hours of work or more per week. Some vets even work night shifts or weekends, depending on the workload. Also, they are sometimes required to respond to emergency veterinarian service apart from their scheduled work hours.


Overall, the work of a veterinarian can be emotionally stressful as they have to euthanise sick animals, care for abused animals, and offer advice to anxious animal owners. Working in slaughterhouses, ranches, farms, or wildlife can also be physically exhausting.



10. Is Becoming A Veterinarian the Right Career Choice for You?


Being passionate about your job is crucial as it makes all the hard work count.


Most veterinarians treat, diagnose, and prevent animals from injuries and illnesses. Therefore, they might sometimes have to make tough decisions and support animal owners through difficult times. But it is always a rewarding experience when you get to help an animal who is suffering.


Remember, if you have hemophobia (an irrational fear of blood), it is probably not the best choice to become a vet. However, it is normal to feel nauseous when you watch a surgery performed for the first time.


An excellent way to determine whether becoming a veterinarian is the right choice for you or not is to get a part-time or a casual job in vet clinics or attend annual open days at vet schools to learn more about vet jobs.


This will also help you to gain practical knowledge and skills to become a vet. To get more insight on becoming a vet, you can start by calling a family or local vet.


All in all, becoming a veterinarian in Australia can be demanding. However, if you are highly motivated, interested in science, and care about the welfare and health of animals, it might be the right profession for you.



11. Career Paths for a Veterinarian in Australia


A Veterinary degree prepares you for a range of careers, some of which include:


  • Veterinarian

  • Veterinary technician

  • Veterinary nurse

  • Veterinary pathologist

  • Veterinary surgeon

  • Veterinary emergency specialist

  • Veterinary laboratory scientist

  • Practice manager

  • Microbiologist

  • Production processing technician

  • Quality assurance officer

  • Biosecurity field officer

  • Veterinary pharmaceutical representative

  • Veterinary clinical nutrition technician

  • Clinical academic

  • Agribusiness professional

  • Researcher

  • Government advisers in health, production, and trade fields



12. Is It Worth Becoming A Vet in Australia?


A career as a veterinarian is a good decision if you are a caring person who loves animals. However, if you aspire to pursue this career, you must learn about the pros and cons of the profession.





  • Working with your furry friends daily to diagnose and treat them makes the profession incredibly fulfilling and worthwhile.


  • Working in the role, you get the opportunity to educate pet owners and animal carers about the pre-emptive measures that can promote optimal animal well-being.


  • High demand – Over 62% of households in Australia own a pet. The increased adoption rates of pets translate to high demand for vets.


  • Plenty of career opportunities: Veterinary professionals have specialised skills in animal health and care that make them vital in several areas, such as private veterinary practice, corporate Veterinary medicine, private or public animal welfare agencies, government agencies and departments concerning food safety research, biosecurity, public health, infectious disease units, and public policy, agricultural industries, diagnostic services, academia or teaching, international animal health and welfare and food production, and veterinary public health.


  • Flexibility to work as self-employed – As an experienced vet, you can also establish a vet practice to treat sick and injured animals and educate carers.





  • Extensive training — Aspiring Vets must complete appropriate training that takes around five years of full-time study in a vet school.


  • Mentally and physically straining — The job requires lifting, bending, and prolonged standing. Most vets work extended hours and on weekends. It is common to be on call to provide timely support to their clients.


  • Veterinarians are prone to musculoskeletal injury when working with ill, injured, or anxious animals who can bite and scratch while you treat them.


  • Vets are at a high risk of coming in contact with the blood, furs, and faeces of injured animals and getting infected. They may also have to deal with unpleasant smells that can be annoying.


  • Vets are also prone to stress and compassion fatigue as they regularly deal with pet owners' sorrow and distressing emotional situations and trauma. 



13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



What Type of Vet Makes The Most Money? 


There are six main types of veterinarians:


  • Companion-animal veterinarians

  • Veterinary specialists

  • Food-animal practice veterinarians (treating farm animals)

  • Food safety and inspection veterinarians

  • Research veterinarians

  • Mixed animal vets


Companion animal practice vets earn the highest, averaging $110,000 annually. Food animal practice vets and Mixed animal vets earn an average annual income of $100,000 annually.



How To Become A Vet Without an ATAR?


You can still study for a veterinary course if your ATAR is below the ATAR required for courses at your desired school. There are learning pathways available to embark on an exciting career in a veterinary setting.


Many universities consider bridging programs and vocational experience when looking at new applicants. Some even permit students to transfer into an undergrad veterinary science course after completing related subjects in another program.


Students can also complete a different undergraduate course in science or medicine, followed by a doctorate in veterinary medicine. As the minimum entry ATAR for veterinary science fluctuates between schools each year, you should aim to obtain the highest grades possible.


Completing your high school in English, biology, chemistry, and Mathematics is essential as these subjects are vital for calculating ATAR to gain admission in veterinary science courses.



Do Vets Get Paid Well in Australia?


High earning potential is a compelling reason to pursue a career as a veterinarian in Australia. It is a well-paid job where entry-level vet positions begin at approx. AU$62,979 a year, with some experienced vets earning as much as $91,344 yearly.


On top of the salary, veterinarians also observe a pay hike of approx. 11% every 18 months. However, the amount and frequency of salary increments you get depends on your performance and contribution to the organisation's success.


Also, certain factors can increase your potential earnings, such as:


  • Gaining experience and expertise

  • Working in areas that with high-demand for veterinarians 

  • Specialise in a niche

  • Switching to an employer that pays a higher salary 



What Is The Best Major For Pre-Vet?


The best major for pre-veterinary students to apply for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine can be:


  • Veterinary Bioscience 

  • Animal Science 

  • Wildlife Biology 

  • Basic Sciences (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, organic chemistry, zoology).



How Hard Is It To Be A Vet?


Being a veterinarian is beyond bonding with bunnies and petting puppies. You must complete one of the most comprehensive and competitive degree courses to work in this profession. The struggle doesn't end here.


It is a demanding profession where you may require working long hours and at unpredictable times. However, considering the strong demand for their highly specialised skills, a career in veterinary medicine can be a lucrative and highly- rewarding career.



Is Veterinary Hard To Study?


Yes. Veterinary school is exceptionally demanding and challenging to get into. The journey requires intelligence, hard work, stamina, discipline, and resiliency to make it to the end.


The tests and workload are steep and highly rigorous. More than making the most accurate incision and memorising terminologies, you must dedicate several hours to understanding the material. Students can expect to spend 30–40 hours weekly in class/ lab-based learning.


There is no doubt that veterinary medical education is highly challenging. However, if you are a hardworking animal lover interested in medicine, you can comfortably manage the vet school workload.



Are Vets Doctors in Australia?


Veterinarians, commonly known as vets, can be referred to as doctors for several compelling reasons:


  1. They study for a medical degree from an accredited university, i.e., Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. Their state Veterinary board licenses them to practice veterinary medicine.

  2. Where a medical doctor sees the healthiness of humans, a veterinarian caters to humans. Like medical doctors, veterinarians can also diagnose medical problems in animals, prescribe medication, and perform surgery, dental procedures, and emergency care for animals. 

  3. Like Medical doctors, Veterinarians can also specialise in specific areas of medicine such as avian (birds), small animal practice (dogs and cats), and extensive animal practice (horses). 


Many veterinarians pursue additional surgery, dentistry, or anaesthesiology education to work with more complex procedures.



Are Veterinarians in High Demand in Australia?


The demand for veterinarians is rising in the booming pet-care industry due to the growing global population with more emphasis on food safety and health.


Furthermore, several media outlets have reported a considerable increase in pet ownership in Australia. As more people adopt pets, more vets are needed to care for those pets.


The shortage of veterinarians and a workforce crisis due to the above reasons. According to Labour Market Insights, the government projects the number of veterinary personnel to grow from 9600 in 2021 to 11,400 in 2026.



What Is The Hardest Part of Vet School?


Becoming a vet isn't easy! First, applying is a big deal, with strict GPA requirements. Once you're in, it's not like regular college – your classmates are super focused on academics.


The classes in vet school are way more intense than usual college courses. While undergrads might have 15-18 credits per semester, vet students handle 25-30 credits of tough science courses. So, it's a lot more work.


Vet students spend about 35 to 40 hours weekly in class or labs. And they often need extra study time, especially for big tests or detailed subjects.

In simple terms, going to vet school is way more challenging than a regular college.



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