Veterinarian Pūkenga Hauora Kararehe

Veterinarians treat sick and injured animals, provide general animal care, and advise about health care and disease prevention for pets and farm (production) animals.

Veterinarians need to be registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand and have a current Annual Practising Certificate.

Veterinarians may do some or all of the following:

  • work with clients to prevent and treat animal problems and diseases
  • advise on preventative health care, nutrition and the care and welfare of animals
  • examine dead animals to find out the cause of death
  • work with herd and flock owners to help them meet breeding and production goals
  • work in a quality control role at processing facilities 
  • negotiate with other countries to set health standards for animal or animal product imports and exports
  • write and develop statutes, codes, regulations and policies that protect animal welfare
  • develop specialist skills to assist with surgery, medicine, epidemiology and pharmacology for animals
  • be involved with disease investigation and research and co-ordinate national disease control programmes
  • help pharmaceutical companies develop and market products used on animals. 

Physical Requirements

Veterinarians need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), good hearing, and good hand-eye co-ordination. They also need to have a reasonable level of fitness as they may spend long periods on their feet and the work can be physically demanding.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for veterinarians includes:

  • practical experience with farm animals
  • work as an animal technician
  • animal training
  • volunteer or paid animal care work.

Personal Qualities

Veterinarians need to be:

  • understanding, patient and concerned for animals 
  • mature and responsible
  • organised and able to work well under pressure
  • able to inspire confidence in clients
  • good communicators with excellent interpersonal skills
  • decisive and good at solving problems
  • motivated and have a desire to learn.


Veterinarians need to have:

  • knowledge of animals and animal diseases
  • animal-handling skills
  • knowledge of animal anatomy, physiology and biology
  • knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology and parasitology
  • skill in treating animals with medicines and performing surgery
  • knowledge of radiography, dentistry and lab methods
  • up-to-date knowledge of developments in veterinary science.

Business management knowledge may also be useful.



  • work long and irregular hours, are often on call, and may also work evenings and weekends
  • may work at clinics, hospitals, farms, zoos, catteries, dog kennels, meat processing plants, laboratories, teaching institutes, and government regulation agencies such as biosecurity and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 
  • often have to travel locally to visit and treat animals.

Veterinarians can earn around $75K-$105K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Veterinarian are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for veterinarians varies depending on experience, responsibilities and location.

  • New graduates with one to three years' experience usually earn between $75,000 and $105,000 a year. 
  • Veterinarians with three to five years' experience usually earn between $90,000 and $120,000. 
  • Senior veterinarians with six to 10 years' experience usually earn between $105,000 and $150,000. 
  • Experienced veterinarians involved in running a business can earn between $130,000 and $220,000. 

Source: Veterinary Business Branch of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, 2023.

Veterinarians may progress to set up their own vet practices, or move into non-clinical roles such as teaching and research, or management. 

Veterinarians may also specialise in: 

  • large or small animals 
  • wildlife
  • poultry
  • horses and farm animals
  • zoo animals
  • domestic pets.

Years Of Training

5 years of training required.

To become a veterinarian, you need to:

  • complete a Bachelor of Veterinary Science
  • be registered with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand
  • have an Annual Practising Certificate.

Only Massey University offers the Bachelor of Veterinary Science course. Students do a pre-veterinary semester, and have a minimum of 10 days' veterinary work experience before being considered for the course. Each year 124 students, of whom 100 are New Zealand residents, are accepted. 

You can apply for the Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree under the Veterinary Maori and Pacific students (VetMAP) pathway.