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Veterinarians treat sick and injured animals, provide general animal care, and advise clients about health care and disease prevention for pets and farm (production) animals. They also set standards for the import and export of animals and animal products and work in other related areas.


Tasks & duties

Veterinarians working in clinical practice may do some or all of the following:


  • work with the client to prevent and treat animal problems and diseases
  • advise on animal nutrition and the care and welfare of animals
  • examine dead animals to find out the cause of death  
  • work closely with herd and flock owners to help them achieve their breeding and production goals



Veterinarians working in other fields may do some or all of the following:

  • set standards for the importation of animals or animal products into New Zealand
  • negotiate with other countries to establish health requirements for animals or animal products exported from New Zealand
  • be involved with disease investigation and research and/or co-ordinate national disease control programmes
  • teach in tertiary institutes  
  • research and advise on animal welfare
  • research and advise on animal breeding and production programmes
  • help pharmaceutical companies develop and market products used on animals



Veterinarians often specialise in treating either large or small animals. Some veterinarians may specialise further, for example in treating wildlife, poultry, horses, farm (production), zoo or companion animals.


Skills & knowledge

Veterinarians need to have:

  • knowledge of animals and animal diseases
  • animal-handling skills
  • knowledge of animal anatomy, physiology and biology
  • knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology and parasitology
  • skill in treating animals with medicines and performing surgery
  • knowledge of radiography, dentistry and laboratory methods
  • up-to-date knowledge of recent developments in veterinary science
  • communication skills
  • organisational skills
  • problem-solving and decision making skills


Business management knowledge may also be useful.


Entry requirements

To become a veterinarian, you need to complete a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from Massey University. The first half of the first year acts as a pre-veterinary semester, after which students are considered for entry into the four-and-a-half year professional phase of the course. 

Students who have completed previous tertiary study equivalent to the pre-veterinary semester are eligible for cross-credits, and may be able to enter the professional phase of the course directly. 

For further information, contact the Massey University Vetschool.


Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter veterinary training. Bursary or NCEA equivalent English, physics, chemistry and biology are preferred subjects.


Training on the job

Many skills are gained on the job. The Veterinary Council of New Zealand encourages veterinarians to continue their professional development by participating in ongoing learning activities in their area of interest.



Veterinarians need to be registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand and they must obtain annual practising certificates.


Useful experience

Practical experience with farm animals such as work on a dairy, sheep or cattle farm, or work with domestic animals is an advantage. Other useful experience includes work as an animal technician in a research laboratory, animal training or any other work relating to the care of animals. Experience with other animal owners is also helpful.




From just a job on you tube


Related courses

Animal Husbandry
Veterinary Science


For more information, please refer to Career Services.

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