Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses

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Income
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Fees
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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for veterinarians are generally very good, particularly in the rural sector. There is high demand for veterinarians in mixed animal practices. Entry requirements to study to become a veterinarian are high and there is a cap on student intakes. This reflects the breadth and depth of the study and the opportunities to work in a range of roles over the course of a veterinary career.

Job opportunities are available for qualified veterinary nurses. However, experience is often preferred and candidates may need to be prepared to move regions to gain employment.

How to become a veterinarian or veterinary nurse

What they do

Veterinarians are the stewards of animal health and welfare. They provide advice and treatment that prevents illness and injury as well as advice and treatment on treating sick and injured animals. This is across all species, from pets to farm animals, to animals in zoos. Other roles for veterinarians include ensuring that standards are maintained in the import and export of animals and animal products, and in research testing and teaching. Many veterinarians also work in industry (providing essential medicines to maintain healthy animals).

Veterinary nurses assist veterinarians in their work. This may include some or all of these:

  • Administration and reception
  • Provide telephone advice
  • Feed and exercise animals
  • Take and process radiographs
  • Collect diagnostic samples
  • Clean, sterilise and prepare surgical instruments and other equipment
  • Assist during surgical procedures
  • Perform diagnostic tests
  • Maintain records
  • Clean cages and surgery areas
  • Accompany veterinarians on house- or farm-calls.

Qualifications needed

To become a veterinarian, you need to complete a five-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science. Entry requirements are strict – about 300 students apply for selection into the professional phase of the degree each year, but only 100 places are available for domestic students and 24 for international students.

The following subjects are recommended:

  • 14-20 credits of NCEA Level 3 chemistry, biology and physics
  • At least one mathematics subject to NCEA Level 3 (calculus, statistics or modelling)
  • NCEA Level 2 English to meet the university admission requirements.

See Massey University website for further details: www.massey.ac.nz/massey/learning/programme-course-paper/programme.cfm?prog_id=92611&tab=plan 

Entry to the veterinary nursing profession requires the two-year New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6). The New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) with the veterinary nursing strand is available to those aspiring to become veterinary nurse assistants.

Cost of study

Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc)New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6)
$58,000 over five years $6,600 over two years

Average costs in 2016 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills 
StudyLink: www.studylink.govt.nz 
Sorted: www.sorted.org.nz/calculators/money-planner

Where to study

Massey University in Palmerston North is the only university in New Zealand offering veterinary science degrees.

Training in veterinary nursing is provided throughout New Zealand. Further details of where to study veterinary nursing are available on the New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association (NZVNA) website.

Massey University, Bachelor of Veterinary Science: www.massey.ac.nz/massey/learning/programme-course-paper/programme.cfm?prog_id=92611 
NZVNA: www.nzvna.org.nz/My+Career.html

Registration

To practise as a veterinarian in New Zealand you must be registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand, and have an annual practising certificate.

Information and applications for registration and practising certificates are available on the Council website.

Veterinary nurses meeting the eligibility criteria are able to enter their names on the voluntary register of veterinary nurses maintained by the NZVNA.

New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association, registration: www.nzvna.org.nz/regulation.html 
Veterinary Council of New Zealand: www.vetcouncil.org.nz/gainReg.php

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a Bachelor in Veterinary Science has increased slightly in recent years, but remains around 100. The number of graduates is limited by the number of places in the veterinary programme at Massey University.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects

Income

In 2016, the average income for veterinarians and veterinary nurses was estimated to be around $66,500. Veterinarians earn more than veterinary nurses. Depending on experience, responsibilities and location, veterinarians can earn between $45,000 and $150,000 per year. According to NZVNA, veterinary nurses start out on the minimum wage or little more, while experienced veterinary nurses can expect to earn around $45,000 a year.

Estimated Average Income
$66,500   

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Veterinarians and veterinary nurses’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
2,775 3,465 4,737 5,499
  3.2% 4.6% 3.0%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Natural and Physical Science Professionals”.

The number of vets and vet nurses in employment increased from 2006 to 2013. This increase is projected to continue out to 2025. This means there will be continuing demand for graduate veterinarians and veterinary nurses.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Veterinarians appear on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list, indicating the government is actively encouraging skilled workers in this occupation to work in New Zealand.

Veterinary nurses are not on Immigration New Zealand’s skill shortage lists. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz

Where to find job vacancies

Veterinarian and veterinary nursing vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites. Veterinarian vacancies are also to be found in the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) publication ‘VetScript’. Veterinary nursing vacancies are also found on the NZNVA website.

Trade Me Jobs: www.trademe.co.nz/jobs 
Seek: www.seek.co.nz 
NZVNA: www.nzvna.org.nz

Career path

Most veterinarians in New Zealand are involved in caring for pets or livestock (and activities and services). Many also work as animal scientists or work in export industries ensuring animal welfare. Veterinarians can become business owners, professional advisors to industry, senior veterinarians or managers of large group-veterinary practices.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level veterinarians or veterinary nurses.

  • Animal Care Attendant
  • Animal Nurse
  • Rural Animal Technician
  • Vet
  • Vet Nurse
  • Zookeeper

Other information

Links

More information on veterinarians and veterinary nurses is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Veterinarian 
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Vet Nurse

ANZSCO

The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of veterinarian and veterinary nurse has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

2347 – Veterinarians
3613 – Veterinary Nurses