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Realistically, is Vet Med. worth it?

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    [I'm sorry if I seem pretty ignorant or stupid here - it's not intentional!]

    I'm doing my GCSEs (Expected As' in all 10 of them, and could possibly squeeze an A* or two in sciences and maths), and I've always wanted to be a vet.

    However, I'm worried that I'm loosing sight of the bigger picture. I've heard a lot about a shortage of vets, and a whole lot more about that being a total lie and a way to justify ridiculously high education costs. What's your take on this? Is there actually a shortage?

    Also - money issues? I'm not going to lie, pretty good wages (or at least not having huge worries about money) was quite high up on my list of reasons for wanting to become involved in the career. But I'm now starting to worry that I won't be able to manage money-wise IF I qualify. I know my parents won't be able to afford to pay for all 5-or-so years of uni, and I don't want to be spending half my income paying back student loans 20 years after graduating.

    So what is your general opinions on these subjects, from people who've actually chosen to go ahead? It seems like a perfect career from the outside, but as I said - I'm trying not to loose sight of the bigger picture. Thanks!
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    As far as the money is concerned, I wouldn't worry. I am very good friends with a few young, qualified vets and they say they don't even notice the uni loans coming out of their wages. But on the other hand, if your after a job with good maney then I'm pretty sure there are easier jobs out there (i.e not getting up in the middle of the night type jobs) that pay much better than vets get. If you're sensible with your money in uni, you shouldn't get into massive debts Goodluck!
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    (Original post by Brains&Beauty)
    [I'm sorry if I seem pretty ignorant or stupid here - it's not intentional!]

    I'm doing my GCSEs (Expected As' in all 10 of them, and could possibly squeeze an A* or two in sciences and maths), and I've always wanted to be a vet.

    However, I'm worried that I'm loosing sight of the bigger picture. I've heard a lot about a shortage of vets, and a whole lot more about that being a total lie and a way to justify ridiculously high education costs. What's your take on this? Is there actually a shortage?

    Also - money issues? I'm not going to lie, pretty good wages (or at least not having huge worries about money) was quite high up on my list of reasons for wanting to become involved in the career. But I'm now starting to worry that I won't be able to manage money-wise IF I qualify. I know my parents won't be able to afford to pay for all 5-or-so years of uni, and I don't want to be spending half my income paying back student loans 20 years after graduating.

    So what is your general opinions on these subjects, from people who've actually chosen to go ahead? It seems like a perfect career from the outside, but as I said - I'm trying not to loose sight of the bigger picture. Thanks!
    The amount of money they take each month out of your account is very little , and, you if my calculations are correct you won't actually end up paying it all back after 30 or so years

    Its a hard subject; hard to get into, hard to study and do well at and ultimately a hard career. But I couldn't see myself doing anything else in the future!

    If you hadn't already I'd recommend doing work experience at a few vets practices so you can firstly experience a typical vets day but also so you can ask the vets themselves!
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    Thank you for your answers. It's fixed my worries a lot!

    I'm aware it's an incredibly hard career to get into, and I'm trying my best not to put all my eggs in one basket! Plus I'm young - who knows if I'll have changed my mind in a few years. (:

    Also, thanks for the tip - but all the vet practices in my area don't take any students under 16. I've even tried contacting the Head of Veterinary Media and Communications in the UK (or something of that sort) who claims there is nothing which can alter the regulations. Seems silly to me, but hey, whatever. I can always wait.
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    With regards to there being a shortage of vets, I think its quite well matched in terms of demand for vets and number of vets graduating. There may be localised shortages (e.g in some rural communities) but very few newly qualified vets have problems finding work as long as they are prepared to relocate within the UK
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    (Original post by Brains&Beauty)
    I've heard a lot about a shortage of vets, and a whole lot more about that being a total lie and a way to justify ridiculously high education costs. What's your take on this? Is there actually a shortage?
    Historically there has only really been 800 or so graduates per year which meant that finding a job was easy and it helped to push the wages up. Now, and certainly since Nottingham started offering a Vet Med/Sci course (and the other vet schools have increased their intake), and you've got more international graduates coming here for work, that is no longer the case. Don't get me wrong, if you are willing to work anywhere and in whatever field when you graduate you will get a job but you guarantee that you will be able to get a certain job in a certain area immediately after you graduate.

    As for fees find some international students and ask them what they're paying because even at £6k or £9k you're getting a bargain as they pay around 3-4x that.

    Also - money issues? I'm not going to lie, pretty good wages (or at least not having huge worries about money) was quite high up on my list of reasons for wanting to become involved in the career.
    Be under no illusions, it is not a well paid job, especially when you consider the long hours that you will inevitably put in and the time spent at uni.

    But I'm now starting to worry that I won't be able to manage money-wise IF I qualify. I know my parents won't be able to afford to pay for all 5-or-so years of uni, and I don't want to be spending half my income paying back student loans 20 years after graduating.
    You need to go away and learn about how the student loans system works. You certainly won't be spending half your income on your student loan for the next 20 years.
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    (Original post by Brains&Beauty)
    Also - money issues? I'm not going to lie, pretty good wages (or at least not having huge worries about money) was quite high up on my list of reasons for wanting to become involved in the career. But I'm now starting to worry that I won't be able to manage money-wise IF I qualify. I know my parents won't be able to afford to pay for all 5-or-so years of uni, and I don't want to be spending half my income paying back student loans 20 years after graduating.
    TBH, if you want to be a vet because of the money then don't bother! I work part-time for a pharmaceutical company now (in the clinical research and development dept, after studying Animal Science at Nottingham) and if I was working full-time I would definitely be earning a lot more than a recent graduate vet! For the first couple of years for definite. Once you get to be a partner or own your own practice then you'll be earning pretty good money (if your practice survives the start up period) but it'll take a while to get there. In the pharmaceutical industry you can earn a good amount and the pay rises are relatively rapid. Basically if you're not 100% committed to being a vet then you won't get in, so pick something easier and work for human/vet pharmaceutical giant Or become a doctor, it's easier to get in I'm not being mean in saying that, just realistic, sorry!

    As for a shortage of vets, well as Chocoholic said, there's isn't an acute shortage anymore. But in certain areas - eg. large animal practitioners (cattle and pigs, not horses!) there are definite shortages throughout Europe. Small animal practitioners are approaching saturation point (in Europe as a whole) and foreign vets are therefore coming to the UK to work too

    Good luck whatever you decide
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    it is good pay but one of the most competitive professions to get into
    well worth it if you do
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    As stated above vet med is not the best paid job in the world. It also entails ridiculously long hours, demanding clients and will eat into your life, this is why the people who become vets do it because they are passionate about animal health and welfare and because it is their dream career, it's also why universities are very tough on veterinary medicine applicants because they want to invest in people who will stick it out and enjoy their career.

    As you've said, you are still young. Despite having wanted to be a vet since the age of 3 I contemplated everything from medicine to petrochemical engineering (apparently very well paid) because I thought I was being smart and making the best choice for my future. I even took another degree with the idea of iving a cosmopolitan life and going into magazine editing (yes this was stupid...)

    BUT I realised that I wouldn't swap anything, even an extra £100,000 per year, for every day until retirement spent in a career that is as diverse, rewarding and all that I've ever wanted. That lasts a lifetime of enjoyment, an extra 2-3 bedrooms in my future house does not...

    As far as fees go, (as it stands) at most top universities you will pay £9000 for every year of your course. If you don't take vet med/dentistry/medicine you'll generally take a 3 or 4 year course which in the greater scheme of things won't make that much of a difference to how much you will owe the student loans company. Repayment details are below and you can find out more on the student finance website. In the meantime I would get as much work experience with animals as possible (get veterinary experience later if there's a standard age limit in your area...) in order to give you a better idea of all the environments in which you would be working should you be lucky enough to get on the course

    sorry for the essay and good luck!

    Recipients are liable to repay their loans (Tuition Fee Loan & Maintenance Loan) in the April which falls three years after the start of their course, even if they are still studying. But they will only make repayments if their yearly income goes over £21,000 per annum or the monthly (£1,750) or weekly (£404) equivalent. Then they repay 9% of what they earned over the threshold, if they earn less than this amount then no repayments are deducted. Payments are collected directly from their salary much the same way as income tax is remunerated. The rules on making payments on top of your monthly repayments haven’t been finalised.
    The amount owed will increase each year with interest. Interest will be charged at the rate of inflation (Retail Price Index (RPI)) plus 3% while studying, up until the April after you leave university. From the April after you leave university or college if you are earning below £21,000, interest will be applied at the rate of Retail Price Index (RPI)(inflation). For graduates earning between £21,000 and £41,000 interest will vary between the rate of inflation and the rate of inflation plus 3 per cent depending on your income. For graduates earning above £41,000 interest will be applied RPI plus 3%.
    After 30 years; if the recipient reaches the age of 65 years; if permanent disability causes a cessation of work; or if death occurs then the loan is written off.
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    (Original post by cionasmith)
    As far as the money is concerned, I wouldn't worry. I am very good friends with a few young, qualified vets and they say they don't even notice the uni loans coming out of their wages. But on the other hand, if your after a job with good maney then I'm pretty sure there are easier jobs out there (i.e not getting up in the middle of the night type jobs) that pay much better than vets get. If you're sensible with your money in uni, you shouldn't get into massive debts Goodluck!
    It is important to remember though that the young vets that you know will have only paid £3k a year tuition fees (if that), some you'll probably find only had to pay £1k a year tuition fees (rather a big difference!).
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    (Original post by ch0c0h01ic)
    It is important to remember though that the young vets that you know will have only paid £3k a year tuition fees (if that), some you'll probably find only had to pay £1k a year tuition fees (rather a big difference!).
    That doesn't matter though, does it? they take a % of your wage over a certain amount, whatever your loan was.
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    (Original post by petparadise123)
    That doesn't matter though, does it? they take a % of your wage over a certain amount, whatever your loan was.
    Yes but if your loan was smaller to start with, it will take you a lot less time to pay it off, assuming it goes out at the same % of your wage as someone with a larger loan. So the people starting vet school with fees of £9000/year are going to be paying them back for a lot longer than people there now with £3000.

    Also not to bang on about finances but don't forget about maintenance loans as well. Nearly everyone has them because they are such good loans in terms of the conditions that go with them, but they still have to be paid off in the future.
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    Hi,

    I'd think very long and hard about this.

    I was 100% committed to being a vet as the students on this forum. I went to vet school as a grad (threrfore paid the grad fees) and now, several years down the line I have many reservations as to whether it was worth it.

    I have been incredibly lucky to have had some fabulous and unique experiences having graduated only 4 yrs ago. Despite this I left practice only 3 yrs after qualification. I had worked in several practices during this time. I was fed up of running round like an idiot all day (I used to drive approx 200 miles/day) and having to pander to an endless amount of absolutely pathetic requests to keep clients happy. I was expected to phone clients as I was driving, never given any scheduled paperwork time and lunch was unheard of. I never got home before 8pm (and would then have to do my paperwork) having often left home at 7.30am. At the end of the day I was shattered and had no quality of life. On-call was a nightmare - people often phoned at midnight to make an appointment, ask when the office was open etc.. I rarely got genuine calls at that time of night it was all stuff that could wait until the morning. Above all I was paid peanuts.

    I now have a 9-5 job in an academic/research establishment. I still do some clinical work but I'm 70% office based. The job is nice but the salary is less than practice (a bit of an issue) so I do bits and pieces in my own time to keep my hand in with the clinical stuff as well as earning extra cash. On the whole the move has resulted in a better quality of life.

    I thought you and othere here would be interested in my experiences as it's not as rosy as it seems. I wouldn't want to disuade anyone from vet med, but neither would I be overly enthusiastic.

    Hope this is of some help x
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    (Original post by ponyvet)
    Hi,

    I'd think very long and hard about this.

    I was 100% committed to being a vet as the students on this forum. I went to vet school as a grad (threrfore paid the grad fees) and now, several years down the line I have many reservations as to whether it was worth it.

    I have been incredibly lucky to have had some fabulous and unique experiences having graduated only 4 yrs ago. Despite this I left practice only 3 yrs after qualification. I had worked in several practices during this time. I was fed up of running round like an idiot all day (I used to drive approx 200 miles/day) and having to pander to an endless amount of absolutely pathetic requests to keep clients happy. I was expected to phone clients as I was driving, never given any scheduled paperwork time and lunch was unheard of. I never got home before 8pm (and would then have to do my paperwork) having often left home at 7.30am. At the end of the day I was shattered and had no quality of life. On-call was a nightmare - people often phoned at midnight to make an appointment, ask when the office was open etc.. I rarely got genuine calls at that time of night it was all stuff that could wait until the morning. Above all I was paid peanuts.

    I now have a 9-5 job in an academic/research establishment. I still do some clinical work but I'm 70% office based. The job is nice but the salary is less than practice (a bit of an issue) so I do bits and pieces in my own time to keep my hand in with the clinical stuff as well as earning extra cash. On the whole the move has resulted in a better quality of life.

    I thought you and othere here would be interested in my experiences as it's not as rosy as it seems. I wouldn't want to disuade anyone from vet med, but neither would I be overly enthusiastic.

    Hope this is of some help x
    Thats interesting to know. Do you think you were unlucky with practices at all? Overall, do you think it was a mistake, or are you glad you did it? I'm also a grad student and remember thinking to myself before starting "at least if in the end i dont like it (which i never thought would happen but its something you should consider), at least i've tried", and that might be better than "what if?". Luckily im still really enjoying it, 18 months to go :-) though im in the middle of exams, which is not good!
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    Thank you again for all of your answers (:

    Just to set things straight - I don't want to become a vet for the money. At all. My point was that I want to make enough money to make it worth the effort of getting into veterinary medicine.
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    Talking about money, is there a way of finding out the average wage for a practice vet in the UK?
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    (Original post by petparadise123)
    Talking about money, is there a way of finding out the average wage for a practice vet in the UK?
    I dont think so... it seems to differ a lot on many things, like location, hours, OOH requirements, small animal/large animal, experience, extra qualifications etc etc.

    I think as a starting salary i'll be hoping for around £20,000, then increasing with experience up to ~£40,000.

    I hate it when, at the slightest mention of pay, people say "you shouldnt be a vet if all you care about is money!". Its such a stupid thing to say, yes, its not about the money, but asking about expected pay is a perfectly normal, and in my opinion a very sensible question!
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    That is less than I expected, but I guess there are more candidates for jobs nowadays. When I tried to look up the average wage online, 5+ years ago I found figures above £50000. Most people around here (farming area) seem to assume vets earn at least this.

    I know that it isnt about the money, but when you want to borrow money from relatives to help pay for uni, they want to know how soon you think you can pay it back etc.

    when I have seen vet jobs advertised, they always say competative salary or something but never any figures!
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    (Original post by tigercallie)
    Thats interesting to know. Do you think you were unlucky with practices at all? Overall, do you think it was a mistake, or are you glad you did it? I'm also a grad student and remember thinking to myself before starting "at least if in the end i dont like it (which i never thought would happen but its something you should consider), at least i've tried", and that might be better than "what if?". Luckily im still really enjoying it, 18 months to go :-) though im in the middle of exams, which is not good!
    Hi,

    I did wonder if I had been unlucky with the practices but I had spent some time doing locum work as well. Locum work pays really well but unfortunately, due to the current economic situation there's not as much equine locum work about as there was. It was however a good way of experiencing different practices and I can't really say that I had been unlucky with the practices.

    There are days when I do think it's a total mistake, then others where I don't, so that's a hard question. I'd say financially not worth it at all as recouping the money spent on tuition fees is near-on impossible. I think you also have to consider the cost of life after practice with a big debt around your neck i.e. saving for a house, running a car, paying rent, paying professional subscriptions etc..
    Initially I really enjoyed the job but it wore thin quite quickly. I'm not the only one in this situation. One of my friends refuses to practice at all after a short stint (3mths) in Oz - she's now doing a PhD, another is quitting equine practice to do dentistry and another is just a 'professional' TB tester!

    Although I'm quite negative about all of this, the beauty of the course is that it does encompass a wide education. As a grad student you will have a strong scientific background which will give you more credit if you took a more academic career path as I have done. I always thought my first degree would be useless to me as a clinician, but it has been extremely handy in my new job - never would have thought it! The scientists I work with are also quite pleased that they have a scientist and a vet rolled into one!

    Anyway, enough of my rantings, I hope your exams go well - it's such a tough course.
    Good luck with it all x
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    (Original post by petparadise123)
    Talking about money, is there a way of finding out the average wage for a practice vet in the UK?
    Check out http://www.spvs.org.uk/, they do an annual pay survey.

    (Original post by tigercallie)
    I think as a starting salary i'll be hoping for around £20,000, then increasing with experience up to ~£40,000.
    The average is about £24k per package (ie; salary AND any potential benefits). At the high end you're looking at around £35k (very rare/exceptional circumstances) down to £15k-ish.

    I hate it when, at the slightest mention of pay, people say "you shouldnt be a vet if all you care about is money!". Its such a stupid thing to say, yes, its not about the money, but asking about expected pay is a perfectly normal, and in my opinion a very sensible question!
    It's important to look at the context ("I'm not going to lie, pretty good wages ... was quite high up on my list of reasons for wanting to become involved in the career.") and be realistic, veterinary science is not well paid. If you're capable of being a vet and money is high on your list of your priorities you should probably be looking elsewhere.

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