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The core traits you need to succeed in veterinary jobs

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Being a vet is a varied and rewarding job. There are several different types of veterinary jobs available. These include:

Companion animal vet – if you work in this field, you will be with pets in private practices helping all sorts of animals to stay healthy and cure them of diseases.

Research veterinarian – you work in laboratories on research about human and animal diseases.

Equine veterinarian – you will work mainly with horses. About six percent of those operating in a private practice diagnose and treat horses.

Food animal veterinarian – working in this area will see you work with farm animals like pigs, sheep, chickens and cattle. Most of the time will be spent on farms checking the health of farm animals for illnesses and injuries. You will also vaccinate herds against diseases. You will also be expected to speak to livestock managers about feeding, housing and other health issues.

Food safety & inspection veterinarian – similar to food animal veterinarians, these people test livestock and animal products for diseases, treat animals with vaccines and enhance animal welfare within the food chain. They’re also responsible for enforcing government food safety regulations.

Despite the range of jobs on offer for those who want veterinary jobs, all of them require a set of specific skills and traits. Here are those that you need.

1. Compassion

Veterinarians are often working in environments and with people who care deeply for the animals being treated. Sometimes the animal needs treatment or has to be put down for the benefit of the animal. As a result, veterinarians must be compassionate.

Even those who raise livestock for slaughter can be saddened when an animal has to be euthanised. They might also get upset if their livelihoods are at risk due to a disease in the herd.

Being compassionate requires you to be sensitive when speaking to and dealing with others. And you must show the same compassion to the animals in your care.

2. Decision-making skills

It isn’t an easy job being a veterinarian. You will need to make tough decisions. Right from the start, you will need to determine the right diagnostic route to go and then decide on a diagnosis and the right treatment plan.

Making the right decision is challenging. For instance, knowing whether the right decision is to operate on an animal, knowing the associated risks, is a tough challenge. You have to be able to weigh up all the risks and benefits along with the information you have and make a decision that is the best interests of the animal.

3. Confidence

All those looking for veterinarian jobs are going to need confidence. You need to be able to speak to people and explain to them what is going on with their animals. At the same time, you need to have confidence in your decisions, ensuring that you know you’re making the right call for that animal.

While confidence can often take time to build, you have to learn quickly to trust your own instincts and training.

4. Manual dexterity

Often this skill isn’t thought of when people think about veterinarian jobs, but it is vital. When working with animals you will need to have a lot of hand movement control. There is a lot of fiddly work to do with animals and you don’t want to make mistakes which can cost lives or put you in danger.

5. Strength and resilience

Animals don’t always understand that you’re trying to make them better. This can, therefore, lead to some lashing out or fighting against you. To prevent you from being hurt you need to be sure that you have the strength to hold an animal and the resilience to sometimes take the odd injury from an animal.

Most common injuries are bites and scratches. These generally don’t hurt for long or cause major damage. But you should be mindful of the potential when you interact with an animal.

6. Communications

Most veterinarian jobs require you to speak to the animal’s owners at some point. This could be about feeding, treatment or care options that the owner needs to consider. You need to be able to explain the evidence or the animals’ needs in a clear, concise way that the owner can understand and then act upon.

Communications isn’t just restricted to verbal either. Some government work might require you to create public awareness campaigns.

7. Management skills

Whether you’re running a team of other veterinarians or just managing your own time, you will need management skills. There will be a lot of demands on your time and you need good management to ensure all the work caring for the animals is completed as well as other administrative work.

You might also need to help manage the schedules of others in your team or come up with longer-term care plans. You need to know how to do these quickly and efficiently so resources aren’t wasted.

8. Problem-solving skills

Not everything is going to be clear cut. Therefore, you will need to learn how to figure out what might be the problem with an animal. You could only have visual clues, descriptions from the animal owner or you might have test results.

The better your problem-solving skills, the easier you will find it to know how to treat an animal.

9. Observation

Being able to make an accurate diagnosis requires you to gather as much information as possible in the shortest period of time. This means you need to be observant of not just the animal but the environment that they’re in.

For instance, you might notice that two other animals have lesser symptoms than one being shown to you or that there is a plant nearby that could have been eaten by the farm animal that could cause it pain. Being observant makes your job a lot easier.

10. Humour

Working with animals is fun and enjoyable, but also stressful at times. You might be asked to visit a horse that refuses to come out of the field and then you’re running around in the mud trying to catch it. You need to be able to see the funny side of life at times.

By being able to see the humorous side of your job, you’ll be able to shake off the harder and more difficult situations that you may come across.


Working with animals when you’ve secured one of the many veterinarian jobs is a rewarding role. However, to be a successful vet, you need to have the ten traits we’ve mentioned above. With them, you could be running your own clinic or team in no time and be known as one of the experts in your field.

If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.

Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk