Veterinary Surgeon

Average Salary: £31,000 - £36,000
Competition: LOW
Years Experience: 1-4 years

“Veterinary can be a very rewarding and interesting career…”

Natasha, Veterinary Surgeon

Job Summary

Veterinary Surgeons are one of many animal saviours of the world. They live life to ensure that domestic pets, farm and even zoo animals sustain good health and welfare. They are not simply your local vets! Veterinary Surgeons can choose to visit animals in farms and even carry out home visits. They work within many organisations including the army and pharmaceutical companies. We describe them as the Animal Superman or Superwoman!


Sustaining good health and welfare for animals could mean getting involved with the following:

  • Consulting with owners and examining animals to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases
  • Advising owners about general care, medical conditions and treatments
  • Carrying out tests such as x-ray and blood samples
  • Routine vaccinations and surgery such as desexings and lump removals
  • Euthanising old and terminally ill animals
  • Being on-call for emergency cases
  • Doing research and liasing with professionals within the industry to stay relevant

Key Skills & Characteristics

A Veterinary Surgeon should:

  • Be confident in handling a variety of animals and their personalities
  • Be compassionate when working with distressed animals and owners
  • Have excellent communication skills, working with staff and giving advice to clients
  • Be observant and decisive in choosing the correct method for treatment
  • Think outside the box and be able to consider all possibilities
  • Show patience and be resilient

Entry Routes

To be a Veterinary Surgeon you need to jump through a few hoops early on. So for starters, you do need to study a degree in Veterinary Science/Medicine. The course needs to be approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which you also need to be a member of. In the UK, a degree in Veterinary Science/Medicine remains one of the most competitive degrees to go into, with only eight institutions currently offering the qualification. Them being:

  • Royal Veterinary College (RVC)
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Surrey

So, more like jumping through a few hoops that are set on fire!

For Natasha, she started as early as a teenager, doing voluntary work at kennels, zoos and local vet practices. In any career, continuous development is always important. She highlighted that doing courses with organisations such as the Association's of Veterinary Anaesthetists (AVA) and RCVS were key factors in becoming a Veterinary Surgeon.

Job Progression

Assistant Veterinary Surgeon

Veterinary Surgeon

Clinical Director

Advice From Our Experts

Top Tip

“The hours can be unsociable and long. But veterinary can be a very rewarding and interesting career with good opportunities to work in many different practices/areas and good part time/locum options.”

- Natasha, Veterinary Surgeon, on the opportunities it presents itself.

The Good

  • Pets - Diagnosing diseases and treating them effectively is a great pleasure
  • Clients - You get along with most clients as you both have something in common. We both love pets!
  • Advising - Helping clients come to the best decisions regarding their animals, based on their finances and lifestyle, is rewarding

The Bad

  • Stress - The job itself is stressful as expectations can be very high
  • Aggressive Clients/Animals - Dealing with aggressive animals or clients is not particularly nice
  • Financial Constraints - People's financial constraints can limit the treatment of their pets. Which can make the animals worse off