How To Become A Veterinarian in Australia: A Complete Guide

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


If you love animals and couldn't picture anything more extraordinary than making them feel better, then becoming a veterinarian is the right choice.


A career in veterinary science can be an exciting experience, but at the same time, the veterinary course itself can often be gruelling and challenging. However, this course's outcome makes it a fascinating and rewarding choice.


As surgical and medical techniques in the veterinary field keep evolving, anyone looking to build a veterinarian career should be prepared for ongoing study and developments.


You can use your veterinary degree in several ways, including further education or training to become a recognised specialist, working as a large or small animal clinician, or working in biosecurity and trade with the government.


If you are interested in this career path, here is a complete guide to 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:



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?


Per the data shared by PayScale, the average veterinarian salary in Australia is around AU$ 66,000. However, you can also earn more by specialising or getting more experience in a specific field. 


Additionally, you can find plenty of job opportunities with Job Outlook, an initiative run by the Australian Government National Skills Commission. This has shown growth in the employment rate in Australia.



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.


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