Vet & Animal Industries

"(This is) the most exciting and challenging time to enter veterinary science in living memory." BARRY SMYTH, PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN VETERINARY ASSOCIATION

With the highest incidence of pet ownership in the world and widespread breeding of livestock for food and recreation, veterinary and animal industries are thriving in Australia.

One way of entering into this field is as a veterinarian, who treats sickness, disease, and injury for companion animals and livestock.

A degree in veterinary science prepares veterinarians in a wide variety of skills for a diverse career path. Dr Ben Gardiner, President, Australian Veterinary Association, says: “A veterinary qualification is unique among modern professions. From sophisticated medicine and surgery across many animal species, to public health, animal production, wildlife ecology or research, the options for a rewarding career in the veterinary profession are many and varied.

The majority of veterinarians enter private veterinary business in veterinary practice. Most veterinary practice work relates to companion animals in households in the major cities and regional towns. The remainder involves veterinary services to a wide range of species in different management systems – for example poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, alpacas, and horses.

A vet degree also equips veterinarians with a vast range of skills they can use in a number of careers other than veterinary practice.
An especially important role for veterinarians is the monitoring of animal welfare in suburban, peri-urban and rural areas of Australia. Monitoring is most often done in private veterinary practice when examining animals in the clinic or hospital, and on Australian farms.

Monitoring the disease status of animal populations is another important role for all veterinarians. It has critical ramifications for a safe, secure, reliable food supply here in Australia, as well as for our ability to meet the needs of overseas markets. Disease monitoring tracks the various animal diseases already present in Australia, and detect as quickly as possible any new diseases not previously seen in Australia’s animals.

But being a veterinarian is not the only way of working with animals. There are other qualifications besides a veterinary degree that can lead to very rewarding opportunities in the animal industries. Dr Cameron Archer from the Department of Primary Industries, which employs many graduates to work with animals in agriculture, fisheries and biosecurity, says, “You will be surprised how many jobs are out there where people are working with animals in one way or another.”

He says the vast range of animal-related jobs can be from pharmaceuticals to government services, zoos, artificial breeding, natural resource management, management of invasive animals, medical research, teaching at various levels in education, and working as an animal nutritionist. Dr Archer agrees that a career in this industry is a rewarding option for people who are passionate about our nation’s fauna. “If you decide to work in the animal industries you will join a band of passionate professionals who care about animals and love what they are doing.”

Statistics and salary

  • There are currently about 10,000 veterinarians registered in Australia and about 7500 of them work in private veterinary businesses.
  • The seven veterinary schools in Australia graduate about 500 new veterinarians annually.

Average salary:

Veterinarian: $84,000
Animal/Farm management: $55,000


Industry bodies

Courses to consider

Consider enrolling in one of the following courses and majors to prepare yourself for a career in the Vet & Animal Industries.

Our courses: