Careers and Employability Service
Services for current students

Choosing your first job

Student vets with a dog 

Taking the time to choose the right role and right employer for you will get your career off to a great start.

We have answered some common questions and provided links for further support so everything goes smoothly.


What should I look for in a job?

When weighing up your options and deciding whether a practice is right for you it’s worth looking at the whole picture. Salary will be important to you, but in order to improve on your day one competencies you will want to know how a practice will support your development, so look at the CPD package available.

  • If you’re interested in understanding salary expectations, you can look at The Pay Index to search what the median salary is for a veterinary sciences graduate based on different UK regions. If you’re a SPVS member you can also check out the SPVS salary survey
  • Ask about mentoring and the support that will be available to you to ensure you are happy with how the practice will help you to develop as a vet and who will help when you are faced with difficult situations. Any graduate employer should have a VetGDP adviser to support and mentor you in the early stages of your career
  • Consider whether you feel ready for sole practice and how much on-call or out of hours work you are wanting
  • Look at the location of the practice, do you want to live in a busy city or a quiet rural location? Will there be social groups or sports clubs that you can join?

What should I do if I receive more than one job offer?

It can be tempting to accept the first job that you are offered, but choosing the right job for you is really important so do take time to consider what you’re looking for.

  • Spend time in the practice. If you haven’t had previous experience in the practice, or think that spending another day will help you make a decision, organise a visit before you accept the offer
  • Don’t be afraid to say that you need time to think about the offer. If the company are rushing you for an answer, then it might not be the right practice for you
  • If you have provisionally accepted a job offer but later receive an offer that you would prefer, it is important that you are honest and contact the employer when you have made your final decision. Don’t put off contacting the employer until the last minute and never just don’t turn up. The vet world is a small network and you should be professional in your acceptance or rejection of offers to maintain your reputation. Try to give as much notice as you can to enable the employer to re-advertise. Although disappointed, the employer should accept your decision

Glassdoor - How to handle multiple job offers


What should I look for in a contract?

Make sure you are given a written contract of employment stating the precise conditions of your employment before you accept a job. In the past some veterinary surgeons have not received a written contract and this has left them exposed.

BVA - Guide to employment contracts for veterinary staff

BVA - Contracts for employment information leaflet


What is the VetGDP?

The Veterinary Graduate Development Programme, or VetGDP, is the structured programme of support all new graduate vets will participate in once you start your first graduate veterinary role.

The programme is designed to provide support from a trained adviser within the practice to help you to develop professionally and build confidence. All vet practices recruiting new graduate vets need to have a trained VetGDP adviser.



What support is there when I've left Nottingham?

Once you are out have graduated and are working in a practice ensuring that you have a good support network will help you to navigate the first few years as a vet.

Keep in touch with your peers from Nottingham as they will be going through similar experiences and could be of great support even if you’re no longer in the same location. We will also continue to offer support to you after you graduate, so get in touch.

Organisations offering support

BVA website - Read Jamie's blog: My experience of starting in practice

Tom Cammack, Veterinary Surgeon, RSPCA

Nottingham alumnus Tom talks about professional development, gaining experience in a number of practices, the breakdown of his work and the importance of taking care of your mental health.


Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
Portland Building, Level D
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3679