The animal services and agriculture sectors are really broad and far-reaching. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not always necessary to obtain a science degree to work within these fields. In fact, VET offers a whole range of highly specified training for those with an interest in animals and agriculture.

What is VET?

VET stands for Vocational Education and Training, which is an education pathway that’s focused on gaining practical skills and providing you with a nationally-recognised qualification, ranging from a Certificate I to Certificate IV, to a Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate.

A VET course is similar to a university degree in that you spend a chunk of your time getting qualified for a real-world career, but it’s generally shorter, less theoretical and more hands-on, and more work-focused. You can complete a VET course at TAFE or another registered training organisation (RTO). Statistically, those who complete a VET course, have higher rates of employment and, on average, get paid slightly better than university graduates.

Why is VET relevant to the industry?

VET courses offer a whole bunch of very specific training for those with niche career aspirations associated with animals and agriculture. Whether it’s land management, landscaping, dairy production, companion animal services or pet grooming, there are literally hundreds of VET pathways to the various jobs on offer.

Universities offer bachelor’s degrees in agricultural and veterinary sciences but VET courses tend to be more specified to the wide-ranging and various job titles within the industry. VET courses also tend to have more variety in length, taking anywhere from a couple of weeks to four years for an apprenticeship. In considering VET, you want to ask yourself how long it will take, how much it will cost, how practical it is and the employment outcomes afterwards.

What are some courses that I can do?

One of the most appealing parts of VET is that the courses are generally shorter and cheaper than a Bachelor’s degree. Rather than doing a 3- or 4-year degree, the tendency is to do a short course in order to get qualified and then learn more while on the job. As you progress through your career, you can then upskill with more VET training. Alternatively, many people turn to a VET course before or after they’ve completed a university degree in order to enhance their skills and gain more practical experience. Here are a few examples of training courses, from entry level to advanced:

  • Certificate II in Animal Studies (Entry Level)

This course is designed to qualify graduates to work as an animal care attendant, a kennel hand, a pet shop attendant or a pet groomer. It’s a year-long, entry-level program that’s very broad and best paired with a stint of work placement. Over 88% of those who complete the course are satisfied with it and it’s expected that there will be between 5,000 and 10,000 job openings in the industry over the next 5 years.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Certificate IV in Conservation and Land Management (Trade Level)

This year-long course offers a whole selection of study areas, from indigenous land management, natural area restoration and conservation of earthworks, lands, parks and wildlife. Graduates are equipped with the skills to produce maps, monitor biodiversity, supervise restoration projects and liaise with media. More than 82% of graduates are satisfied with this course and almost 79% of those who were unemployed before undertaking the course were able to find work afterwards.

See stats and outcomes.

  • Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (Surgical) (Advanced Level)

This is the industry standard qualification for those who want to become qualified as a veterinary nurse within a veterinary clinic or hospital. It’s quite a complex, 18-month program that involves an extensive range of specialised surgical procedures, including skin grafting, oncological surgery, advanced corrective orthopaedics and anaesthetic monitoring. More than 80% of graduates are satisfied with the training and 58% of those who weren’t employed beforehand got employed after completing it.

See stats and outcomes.

What are the career outcomes?

The job titles associated with animal services and agriculture are many and far-reaching. Here are a couple of examples to kick start your imagination:

Veterinary nurse, land manager, zookeeper, farm hand, sheep shearer, groomer, kennel attendant, pet sitter, dog walker, vet assistants, vet, lab animal caretaker, trainer, animal control worker, breeder, conservation land manager, park ranger, guide dog trainer, wildlife rehabilitator, aquarist, apiarist (beekeeper), animal shelter manager, gardener, groundskeeper, agriculture and forestry scientist, agricultural technicians, agricultural consultant, agricultural/forestry/horticultural operators, stock and station agents, deck and fishing hands, logging workers, nursery labourers, livestock farmers, meat/poultry/seafood process workers, nurserypersons, shearers, packers, product quality controllers.

For more info on courses and career paths, check out the My Skills website.

Keen to know more about Animal Services or Agriculture? You can head here and check out Dustin’s story who’s working his way to becoming a farmer through VET courses. Or, if you’re more keen on the animal side of things you can read about how Emma became a veterinary nurse through VET.