Where do most vets work?

Most of Australia’s vets work in private practices usually with just one or two full-time veterinarians. Specialisation is an increasing trend, with some practices limiting their work to certain types of animals such as horses or small animals.

State and federal governments also employ veterinarians. Other areas that vets may work in include animal production businesses, universities and research, marketing companies making or selling veterinary medicines, zoos and some animal welfare organisations.

Australian vets contribute on a regular basis to international programs on animal production, disease control and environmental management.

Private practice – most graduates make several job changes in their veterinary career. New graduates usually start as employees in private practice or with government, although other fields are becoming increasingly popular. They may go into mixed practice in a country town where they’ll see a whole range of domestic and production animals and in rural areas, vets are increasingly being looked to for advice on herd management and production. After postgraduate training some may also choose to specialise in a particular area of veterinary science such as surgery, radiology, dermatology and ophthalmology.

Government – in federal government, vets supervise the handling and health of stock destined for export and quarantine for incoming livestock, genetic material and animal products. Vets working in this area are also involved in public health programs to ensure the safety of food and the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals.

In state governments, vets are responsible for animal welfare as well as monitoring, controlling and eradicating many animal diseases. They are employed in the field and in laboratories. A number of vets are employed to consult with aid programs both in Australia and overseas. This might involve working on village agriculture and vaccine production in under-developed countries.

Teaching and research – undergraduate and post-graduate teaching in a university offers opportunities for a small number of vets. It takes about 10 years after graduation to get a teaching post in a university. In the meantime vets often gain experience in practice, obtain a post-graduate qualification and usually have some overseas experience.

Research in universities and other institutions can also provide a challenging career and there are a number of vets involved in teaching at all levels.

Industry ­– the pharmaceutical industry is continually developing new medicines for animals and humans, which requires involvement from veterinarians in research, development and marketing. Vets are also employed in industry to supervise the breeding, care and maintenance of animals used in testing or other research, and in the specialty pet food industry.

Animal welfare – animal welfare has become a prominent and increasingly important social issue. Vets are recognised as having a key role in the supervision of animal use in research and are represented on other animal welfare bodies.

Wildlife – vets also work in zoos and sanctuaries where they care for and treat some very rare animals. There are also many other emerging animal industries such as aquaculture which offer a niche for veterinary studies graduates.

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