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by Staff Reporter
If you have a passion for animals, an analytical brain and enjoy problem-solving, a career as a Veterinarian could be for you.

Career Overview

f you love animals you’ve probably dreamed of growing up to be a vet at some point in your life. A passion for animals is crucial to being a vet. Along with saving animal’s lives, you’ll need to make some tough decisions and put your patient above yourself.

A vet isn’t necessarily only the person you take your cats and dogs to. Vets can specialise in birds, farm animals, cattle etc. Whether you see yourself living in a city, helping people’s treasured fur babies or if you see yourself out in the bush, there is a place for you within the veterinarian realm.

Tip: Before applying to study Veterinary Science, job shadow a few different types of vets to see if this really is something you would like to pursue after school.

Required School Subjects

For Veterinary Science, you will need to have the following high school subjects:

  • English Home Language or First Additional Language – 60%
  • Physical Science – 60%
  • Mathematics – 60%

Institution and APS

The only place to study Veterinary Science in South Africa is at the University of Pretoria’s Onderstepoort campus.

You will need an APS of 35 (minimum) to qualify.

Required Qualification/s

In South Africa, you can only study a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), or you can opt for the Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing (BVetNurs) as a second option if you don’t make it in for veterinary science.  However, the only way you can practice as a Veterinarian in South Africa, regardless of which route you take after, is through obtaining your BVSc degree through UP.

Required Skills

You will need to have the following skills in order to succeed as a Vetenarian:

  • analytical skills
  • communication skills
  • problem-solving
  • time management
  • self-motivation
  • customer care

Where you can work

According to the University of Pretoria, your career opportunities lie in:

  • State veterinary services: rehulations, surveillance, control, prevention of diseases, etc.
  • Private practice: this would be domesticated animals, farm life, wild life, production animals, etc.
  • Research: there is a wide variety of research fields out there, for example, within biomedical science.
  • Academia: You could lecture, take on research projects within the university, etc.
  • Diagnostic laboratories: for things like toxicology, pathology, etc.
  • Veterinary public health: Ensuring that cattle and livestock used for human consumption is safe and meets all health and safety regulations.
  • Commerce: You could join a sales and management company to sell animal goods and services or you can join the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Consultancy: You can work within the various animal industries to providing advice and consulting.
  • Laboratory animal science: you would be involved with the ethics behind animal experiments and testing.
  • Wildlife management: you can work in ranches, conservation or zoological institutions. This field has been growing massively in SA in recent years.
  • Poultry production: you would be involved with food security.
  • Animal welfare: this is where you can get involved with SPCA type work – clinical services and management for the wellbeing of animals.
  • International employment: as a UP graduate, you can legally work in the United Kingdom, Australia and Namibia.

Working Hours

If you’re actually working in a job where you medically treat animals, chances are you can be called out at any time of the day for emergencies, regardless of whether or not you work in a practice with set operational hours. Just as it is with humans, animals can demand medical attention at any time.

If you opt for something more in the consultancy or commerce line of work, you’re more likely to be able to conform to normal working hours.

Expected Salary

Depending on your experience, specialty, industry and management level, your salary could vary quite drastically. But the median salary for someone with a BVSc degree is R469 893 per annum, or R39 152 per month.

What to expect

During your studies you’ll cover a wide variety of subjects that will assist you along with your career. You’ll cover things like:

  • Language and study skills
  • Academic information management
  • Genetics
  • Biometry
  • Chemistry
  • Medical terminology
  • Animal diversity
  • Veterinary professional life
  • Ecology
  • Ethics
  • Physiology
  • Surgery
  • Etc

You’ll be studying full time for six years, so the further along you get with your studies, the specific and in-depth your modules and topics will be. You’re final year will only be practical work to put your theoretical knowledge to work to ensure you graduate as an adequate veterinarian. You can find more exact details about your modules and the work you would cover.

During your studies, you’ll be introduced to the various fields and industries mentioned in the careers section above. This will allow you a look into what a career in that field would be. Be sure to get as involved as possible so that you can make an educated decision on where you would want your future as a vet to lie.

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