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Veterinarian

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Summary of occupation

Veterinarians diagnose and treat sick and injured animals, including pets, farm animals, native wildlife, sporting animals and more exotic animals, such as those kept in zoos or aquariums. They examine tissue, blood, urine and other samples to assist in diagnosing the cause of disease and decide on the appropriate treatment. Treatments may include prescribing drugs, surgical procedures and nursing care. In some cases they may also have to humanely kill an animal to end pain and suffering, or to prevent the spread of disease. Veterinarians also educate animal owners and breeders on techniques to maintain or improve an animal's health and/or welfare.

ANZSCO description: Diagnoses, treats and prevents animal diseases,  ailments and injuries. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Vet, Veterinary Surgeon
Specialisations: Veterinary Parasitologist, Veterinary Pathologist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

Veterinarians need:

  • to be interested in the health and welfare of animals
  • good communication skills
  • to be good at analysis and problem solving
  • to be able to work under pressure
  • good interpersonal skills
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Working conditions

The majority of veterinarians work in small animal practices, treating dogs, cats and other pets. Other veterinarians may work in rural areas, travelling to farms to treat sick livestock. Regardless of whether they work in a small private practice in the suburbs, or are driving between dairy farms in the state's South West, veterinarians work long hours, and may have to remain on call in case of emergencies. When working with animals that are distressed or in pain, veterinarians must take special care to avoid being bitten, kicked or scratched. It's not just the animal that may be distressed, with veterinarians often having to soothe with emotional or demanding pet owners.

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Salary details

On average, veterinarians can expect to earn between $1,500 and $1,749 per week ($78,000 and $$90,999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

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Tools and technologies

Veterinarians use a range of medical equipment, similar to that used by doctors treating humans, including stethoscopes and surgical instruments. They also use similar equipment for diagnosis, such as x-rays, ultrasounds and other radiographic machines.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a veterinarian, you need to study an accredited degree in veterinary science.

Murdoch University offers a five-year veterinary science degree, consisting of a three-year Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Biology) and a two-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. This is the only veterinary science degree in Western Australia. Contact the university for more information. Learn more about your study options.

To work as a veterinarian in Western Australia, you must obtain professional registration with the Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of Western Australia.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Vet Video Vet Occupation

Veterinarians diagnose and treat sick and injured animals, including pets, farm animals, native wildlife, sporting animals and more exotic animals, such as those kept in zoos or aquariums.

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