Career Pathways

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” 


Career pathways in veterinary medicine

There is something for everyone within the working world of Veterinary Medicine.  We need veterinary surgeons, vet nurses and vet techs as well as all the support staff that make practices and organisations run well.

Explore Careers in Veterinary Science

Veterinary Surgeon

Veterinary surgeons look after sick or injured animals.  Vets are highly trained professionals who study for 5 or 6 years at university before they graduate.  Many young people have a passion for animals and there are lots of careers that may be suitable for you, even if you do not train to be a vet.  Deciding to train to be a vet is a big decision and you should use the information in Future Vets (Scotland) to help you know if it is the right career for you.  If it is, then get right on board and look at all the career options that will be open to you when you graduate with your veterinary degree.


You will need to get practical experience to be accepted into vet school and this may pique your interest in a certain career path.  Perhaps you would like to work only with companion animals when you graduate.  This is fine but you will still learn all about farm animals, horses, zoo animals, poultry and more when you are training.  This is to ensure that on graduation you have a wide career choice.  You might decide that you love working with horses, or farm animals, and would like to specialise after graduation.


You will graduate with a degree in medicine and surgery however what you chose to do after graduation depends on you.  When you are at vet school, you might find that you are a whiz at surgical techniques, and you may decide to concentrate on this element in practice.  Other vets find that they are particularly good at working through complex medical conditions, like diabetes or heart disease in dogs and cats, or an outbreak of pneumonia in a shed housing hundreds of calves.  Every vet has their strengths – you will have yours too. Just allow yourself to be your best self.


Small animal vet

Small animal vets work primarily with pets such as dogs, cats, and small mammals. They diagnose and treat illnesses, perform surgeries, provide preventive care, and offer advice to pet owners. Small animal vets often work in private veterinary practices, animal hospitals, or clinics.

Large animal vet

Large animal vets focus on the health and well-being of farm animals, including horses, cows, pigs, and sheep. They may provide routine medical care, perform surgeries, offer reproductive services, and assist with herd health management. Large animal vets can work in private practices, farms, or governmental agencies.

Equine vet

Equine vets specialise in the health and medical care of horses. They handle a range of responsibilities, including dental care, lameness evaluations, vaccinations, and reproductive services. Equine vets may work in equine clinics, horse racing facilities, or provide ambulatory services to clients.

Mixed practice vet

Many new graduates choose to work in mixed practice to get experience with a wide range of species.  Every day you will be dealing with both companion animals and their owners, as well as farmers and their cows and sheep.  It’s a rare day in mixed practice that you won’t get a call out, which could be to a horse, a poultry flock, or any other farm animal.  That’s why all university veterinary courses continue to make sure you know about all the species that may come ‘under our care’.

Veterinary pathologist

Veterinary pathologists specialise in diagnosing diseases in animals by examining tissues and body fluids. They play a crucial role in understanding the causes and effects of diseases, conducting research, and contributing to public health. Veterinary pathologists can work in laboratories, research institutions, or veterinary diagnostic centres. 

Veterinary researcher

Veterinary researchers focus on advancing scientific knowledge in veterinary medicine. They conduct research studies, investigate new treatments, and contribute to improving animal health outcomes. Veterinary researchers often work in academic institutions, research organisations, or pharmaceutical companies.

Veterinary public health practitioner

Veterinary public health practitioners work at the intersection of animal and human health. They contribute to disease surveillance, outbreak investigations, food safety, and zoonotic disease control. These professionals can be employed by government agencies, public health organisations, or international bodies like the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Wildlife vet

Wildlife vets focus on the health and conservation of wild animals. They may work with wildlife rehabilitation centers, zoos, conservation organisations, or governmental agencies. Their work involves providing medical care, conducting research, and implementing strategies to protect endangered species.

Veterinary educator

Veterinary educators teach and mentor future vets. They work in veterinary schools, colleges, and universities, imparting knowledge and training to students pursuing veterinary degrees. Veterinary educators also engage in research and contribute to the development of veterinary curricula.

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