Do you want to work with animals? The profession of a veterinarian may be right for you. It consists of diagnosing, caring for, and operating on wild or domestic animals. It is exercised in town (with dogs, cats, birds, or exotic animals) or in the countryside (with farm animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs) and requires a real passion for animals. The veterinarian is a general practitioner, surgeon, and radiologist all at the same time. Find out everything you need to know to become a veterinarian.
What exactly is being a veterinarian?
Depending on whether he works in the city or in the countryside, a veterinarian will have totally different activities. In a veterinary clinic, his role is to care for animals, operate on them, and to prevent their illnesses. Almost all consultations then take place in his office.
In the countryside, a veterinarian mainly works in the livestock sector. It thus intervenes in farms and in breeding, either during systematic campaigns or at the request of the stockbreeder. It then plays an important role in the growth and hygiene (disease prevention) of animal herds (oxen, pigs, sheep, or horses in stud farms). He also manages the nutrition, productivity, and profitability of the herd. Being a veterinarian in the countryside, therefore, requires a lot of availability and travel.
A veterinarian can also be employed in an agri-food industry, in which case he participates in the creation of new consumable products for animals. He can also work in a pharmaceutical laboratory; he then intervenes as a specialist in the manufacture of medicines for animals and their marketing.
In a national, regional, zoological park or in a nature reserve, a veterinarian specializes in wildlife. He also serves as an advisor and ethologist (he studies the behavior of animals) for the preservation of species. To do this, he must participate in programs for safeguarding, rescuing, or reintroducing species and in health monitoring programs or projects.
It should be noted that a veterinarian can work on his own account in private practice, be an employee of a pharmaceutical laboratory or an agri-food industry, but he can also be a civil servant of the State as a veterinary public health inspector at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In this case, he performs functions of management, supervision, expertise, control, teaching, and research.
A veterinarian can also be a military veterinarian, attached to the army health service, to carry out various missions in external operations and in France. It then ensures the care of military animals (dogs and horses), research and training activities, and veterinary public health missions.
The precise missions of a veterinarian
In addition to working on animals, a veterinarian must also establish a relationship of trust with their owners.
As part of his job, he must know:
- make a diagnosis;
- indicate the appropriate treatment;
- perform surgery;
- deworming and vaccinating animals;
- carry out all the necessary examinations (x-rays, blood tests, etc.);
- practice artificial insemination for farm animals;
- intervene urgently during difficult births;
- provide information on good care practices to be implemented for each animal;
- check and control hygiene in the agro-food industries;
- participate in the creation, production, and marketing of animal feed and medicine;
- do research.
How to become a veterinarian, and what training to follow
To become a veterinarian, you must obtain a veterinary doctor’s degree. For this, it is necessary to follow the course of a veterinary school. It is accessed by competition from the BAC+2 level. It is, therefore, advisable to have scientific training such as a biology-chemistry preparatory class or a technological BTS in the food industry or bio-industry.
The duration of training lasts, on average, seven years. At the end of these seven years, you receive a State diploma of veterinary doctor, which allows you to start your practice.
You should know that a veterinary student can specialize at a BAC+8 level (by a certificate of advanced veterinary studies in animal public health or animal pathology) or BAC+9 (by a diploma of specialized veterinary studies in animal husbandry and equine pathology, companion animal surgery, laboratory animal science or veterinary ophthalmology).
What qualifications do you need to be a veterinarian?
If you want to become a veterinarian, you must, above all, be passionate about animals, whether dogs, cats, birds, cows, sheep, tarantulas, or snakes. A veterinarian must be able to handle all breeds confidently and fearlessly.
You obviously need a developed sense of observation because the diagnosis is not always easy to make since the patients do not express themselves. A veterinarian must also be skillful, rigorous, and fast, and the job requires a great capacity for concentration because it is necessary to handle animals that can prove to be dangerous. The veterinarian must also have good physical performance, especially to intervene on farm animals.
He must also show pedagogy and tact towards the owners of the animals because the State of the health of an animal can prove to be difficult to treat. We must then find the right words to explain it. But still, you have to be very available to exercise this profession because you have to be able to deal with emergencies. He can work at night and on Sundays and ensure certain days of call during the year. For veterinarians practicing on their own account, it is also necessary to have accounting and administrative skills.
What are the career possibilities of a veterinarian and his salary?
After several years of experience, a veterinarian can progress to the direction of a veterinary clinic or a state veterinary service. He can also progress to research or to a position of responsibility within a large food industry (for animal feed) or pharmaceuticals (creation and marketing of drugs for animals).
You should know that a beginner veterinarian receives around 2000 euros gross per month and an experienced veterinarian around 3300 euros gross per month. A specialized veterinarian can receive, meanwhile, nearly 3800 euros gross monthly. In addition to his remuneration, there is a seniority bonus after three years in the same firm. Other bonuses are added for guards, on-call duty, and night duty.
Is veterinarian a sought-after profession today?
Being a veterinarian in the city is increasingly difficult because there is too much demand. The number of practices is no longer changing, and animal-related expenses are decreasing. On the other hand, the countryside suffers from a considerable lack of veterinarians, although the herd tends to decrease.
The agro-food industry presents itself as a promising sector for young graduates. If you want to open your own veterinary practice, you should know that it is a very heavy investment whose profitability is not immediate. To be able to set up on your own, you must be registered with the national order of veterinarians. Typically, independent veterinarians partner with others to share equipment and operating costs. After reading this post, you may like to read our blog on how to satrt your veterinary practice. Also, don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below.