How to become a vet

Becoming a vet involves more than just a strong desire to help animals. It requires dedication and hard work, expertise in animal biology and science, and a strong sense of empathy towards both animals and people. If you think you have what it takes to become a practising veterinarian, here are the next couple of steps you need to take towards becoming one.


Step 1: Study  
In South Africa, only the University of Pretoria (UP) offers a veterinary degree. It’s officially termed a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) and falls under a programme in the Faculty of Veterinary Science.  It’s a six-year course that takes place at the Onderstepoort Campus.


A competitive market
Because UP is the only institution that offers a qualifying degree, it’s an extremely competitive programme to get into, and only 190 students are selected for the course every year. However, students who are studying other courses in their first year may subsequently be selected for the BVSc programme. “Applicants who were not successful can apply to do a BSc Biological Sciences and will do the same first-year subjects as the veterinary students, should they be successful,” says Amy Jackson-Moss, a former UP student and practising vet.

“A certain number of Biological Sciences students are accepted into the course in June and then again in December, based on the marks they received for these first-year subjects. Some students also complete a BSc in Animal Science and are then accepted into veterinary,” Amy explains.

Once you obtain your BVSc degree, there are many avenues for you to choose from. However, before you can become a practising vet, you have to complete a 12-month period of compulsory community service work for the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.


Would you like to read the rest of the article, such as what subjects you need, how to apply and what is step 2? Get the January/February 2024 edition of Animaltalk magazine from retailers or order a digital or printed copy now from



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