If you’ve got a veterinary degree and you’re looking to travel, you might be wondering about becoming a vet in the UK.
Working as a vet in the UK can be incredibly rewarding. There’s a lot to see and do, and lots of different areas to explore. So, what does working as a vet in the UK involve?
Daily life as a UK vet
Many veterinary practices in the UK are specialised small animal, farm animal, or equine practices – but there are still a few mixed practices around if that’s where your interests lie.
As a full-time small animal vet in the UK, you’ll likely work 9-10 hours a day, four days a week, and nights and weekends may be expected. Many practices have a dedicated out-of-hours staff, so if nights aren’t for you, look for one who delegates their emergency shifts.
Farm animal vets, mixed vets, and equine vets will be expected to drive, sometimes large distances over a week. They’ll almost certainly run their own out-of-hours service, so you’ll be expected to do night and weekend work.
Advantages of working as a vet in the UK
Working as a vet in the United Kingdom has lots of advantages, but we’ve pulled out the top four here:
1. High Standards of Care
One of the big advantages of working in the UK is that, as a ‘nation of animal lovers’, they have high standards of care. Most animals are up to date with their preventative treatments, and many are insured. It’s considered routine to work up cases to the best of your ability, and there’s access to an excellent referral network so you can get your patients the best in modern pet care.
2. (Relatively) High Wages
Wages in the UK are dependent on experience. And whilst many vets feel they don’t get paid what they’re worth, the pay is often considered relatively higher than that in many other countries. Of course, the cost of living can vary too, and that depends a lot on the area of the country you’re in. London is the most expensive place to live, and wages are usually higher as a result. Northern counties are likely to be cheaper, but wages may be slightly lower.
3. Great Benefits
Jobs in the UK don’t just offer a salary – you can almost guarantee other perks will be included. It’s not uncommon for accommodation to be offered, especially in areas where housing is hard to come by. You may also be offered the use of a practice car – especially if you’re expected to make house calls or visit farmyards. Funding towards your CPD is another common benefit, with many practices offering £2000 per year, or more with a contract. Don’t forget, healthcare is free in the UK thanks to the wonderful NHS!
Depending on where you graduated from, you may not be used to the level of respect for veterinary surgeons in the UK. Whilst there are always ‘bad clients’, the majority respect your opinion and your degree.
Is it easy to find a job as a veterinarian in the UK?
The UK has a shortage of vets, and there are lots of jobs advertised all over the country, meaning it’s very easy to get a job as a vet. Roles in farm animal work, equine work and small animal work are available, as well as government vet roles and meat inspection work.
Vet jobs in the UK will ask that you have a good level of written and spoken English, but the amount of clinical experience they require can vary.
Choosing whether to locum or look for a permanent job
Working as a locum/relief vet allows you to experience several places within the UK before committing to a job. It’s a good chance to make sure you’re a good fit for the UK as well as to get your feet under you.
However, locum vets generally have to be confident and experienced- you’re filling a gap, so you’ll be expected to jump right in and help out. If you’re less confident in your skills or struggle with ‘first day nerves’, it might be better to look for a permanent job. Which you choose will likely also depend on your visa requirements (see below).
What legal requirements should I consider?
To call yourself a veterinarian in the UK, you must be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). If you’re lucky enough to have qualified in Australia, New Zealand, some schools in Europe, or South Africa, it’s possible you will only have to fill out some forms and attend a registration interview.
For many other countries, you’ll have to sit the membership examination, which ensures your knowledge is at a level expected in the United Kingdom.
Visa requirements for UK vets
If you don’t have a British passport, you’ll need a visa. There are different options depending on your nationality, age, and work plans. A working holiday visa is relatively easy to get, but only lasts two years and is only available for young travellers from certain countries.
A Tier 2 work permit, on the other hand, will require you to have a job offer from a UK employer.
Should you Work as a Vet in the UK?
If you’re considering working in the UK as a vet, there’s lots to think about. The UK has lots to offer vets from all over the world, and you can be sure to find a job that suits you. However, negotiating the visa and other legal aspects can be difficult.
At The Vet Service, we have lots of experience in helping vets to relocate to the UK and are happy to talk Visas and other aspects with you any time!