HW Careers

South African woman in a scrub suit symbolizing health and welfare careers

Additional information

body or mind


Boss or Team

Own Boss


Good Communicator

Work With

Animals, Both People & Animals, People

Math & Science

Maths & Science

Study Length

Prepared to Study for Years


Alone, Busy Environment, Either Alone or In a Busy Environment


Veterinary Surgeons, or vets as they are commonly known, diagnose and treat diseases and injuries in animals.  They perform surgery on animals and inoculate against infectious diseases. The type of work performed depends on the area in which they have specialised.

Vets who mainly treat sick domestic animals are often in private practice. Some vets work in the agricultural sector, testing livestock in the dairy, meat and wool industries for diseases and advise farmers on the care and breeding of animalsOther vets specialise in wildlife and play an important role in the management and rehabilitation of our wild animals. 

Vets may be involved in research, consultation, teaching, technical writing, the prevention and control of animal diseases, agricultural education, community development, the sale or production of commercial products, or the rendering of technical services for commercial firms.

How to be a Veterinarian in South Africa

Get the Required Qualifications

To become a veterinarian in South Africa, you will typically need the following qualifications:

  1. Certificate (National Senior Certificate with a Bachelor’s Degree pass)
  2. Bachelor’s Degree (Bachelor pf Veterinary Science – at Onderstepoort, near Pretoria)

Postgraduate studies are also available depending on your career choice.  

Demonstrate Competence in the Required Subjects

Different educational institutions may have different admission requirements; however, you will typically be required to demonstrate competency in the following subjects:

Accumulate Years of Relevant Study and Experience

Veterinarians in South Africa typically study for a minimum of 6 years. This include pursuing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science programme that involves four and a half years of studying the core veterinary curriculum followed by one and a half years of work integrated training and a research project.

Students of veterinary science are required to register with the SA Veterinary Council before the 1st of June of the year in which they first enrol for their studies.

Find Relevant Employment Opportunities

There are plenty of employment opportunities for veterinarians in South Africa who often work in the following places:

  • Private practise – Most veterinarians in South Africa work in private practice, either working in their own clinics, working in partnership with another veterinarian, as an assistant to another veterinarian, or as a locum. Veterinarians who work as private practitioners typically work in rural areas where they provide veterinary services to farm animals, pets, or a mix of both.


  • Veterinary research institutes – Veterinarians who decide to pursue a career in research typically work in the fields of veterinary, agriculture and biomedical sciences).


  • Zoos – Veterinarians also work in zoos where they provide clinical services, disease prevention strategies, and a whole range of consultative services on nutrition, management, production, reproduction, and biotechnology (embryo transfer).


  • Wildlife centers – While some veterinarians work in zoos, others work in animal conservation centers. Here, they help to keep animal populations balanced by protecting animals whose populations are under threat and keeping those animals whose populations can be a threat to others under control. They are also responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the centers they work at as well as ensuring that all relevant regulations are followed in the process.


  • Colleges and universities – Qualified veterinarians can teach at veterinary, medical, agricultural
    and natural science faculties where they can also conduct research and participate in community engagement projects as well as the provision of clinical services.


  • Government agencies – A large number of veterinarians work in state or provincial agencies where they typically
    help with regulatory services related to the diagnosis, surveillance, monitoring, control, prevention and eradication of notifiable diseases. Veterinarians working for the government are also responsible for overseeing the import and
    export of animals and animal products as well as food safety and security.


  • Diagnostic laboratories – Veterinarians can also work in private and government-ran diagnostic laboratories performing routine or forensic diagnostic services in various disciplines such as pathology, clinical pathology, microbiology and toxicology.


  • Pharmaceutical companies – Veterinarians can work in research and product development in the pharmaceutical and feed industries where they provide technical advice in sales and management.


  • Consultancy firms – Some veterinarians work as veterinary consultants and provide specialised farm management and clinical veterinary services to the farm animal and pet industries.


Find More Information from Relevant Regulatory Bodies

To find more information about veterinarians in South Africa, contact the South Africa Veterinary Council.


Veterinary Bursaries


Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Bursaries

Full bursaries covering tuition, accommodation and living allowance are available at the national and provincial departments of agriculture. They are typically announced during the latter part of the year and allocations are made before the start of the following academic year. You can find more information about them at the DAFF website or the University of Pretoria website.

South Africa Veterinary Foundation (SAVF)

The South Africa Veterinary Foundation makes a small number of partial bursaries available on an annual basis. You can find more information about them on the SAVF website.

Private companies

Some private companies partner with educational institutions offering veterinary programs and sponsor veterinary students. You can check if there are available bursaries by getting in touch with the university.

Veterinarian Related Careers

Related University Degrees

Veterinary Degrees in South Africa


  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc)
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing (BVetNurs)
  • Masters in Veterinary Medicine (MMedVet)
  • Master of Science in Veterinary Science
  • Master of Science in Veterinary Tropical Diseases
  • Master of Science in Veterinary Industrial Pharmacology
  • Master of Science in Animal/Human/Ecosystem Health
  • Master of Science in Veterinary Epidemiology
  • Master of Science in Veterinary Reproduction
  • Master of Science in Ruminant Health
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Veterinary Science
  • Doctor of Veterinary Science

Universities Offering Veterinary Degrees in South Africa

  • University of Pretoria – In South Africa, there is only one university offering qualifications in Veterinary studies: the world-renowned Onderstepoort facility at the University of Pretoria.  This Degree of the University of Pretoria is recognised by the South African Veterinary Council and is also recognised by the registering authorities in the United Kingdom, Australasia and Malaysia.


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