Animal and Veterinary Studies

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When most of us think of veterinary studies and animal-related careers, its probably pets and farm animals. In reality, a wealth of careers revolve around Irish society’s enduring working and recreational relationships with animals. If working while a goat tries to munch your sweater or an keeping an eye on easily distracted Labrador sounds like a perk of the job instead an unwanted challenge, a career working with animals is for you.


The Certificate in Animal Care or Veterinary Assistant are good starting points for careers in veterinary nursing, animal grooming, and animal care. You will learn about animal anatomy, physiology, welfare, and behaviour.

You can study Animal Science in UCD as a specialist degree, or as part of their Agricultural Science degree. This degree is for those who want to work in agribusiness or research.

Veterinary Nursing is a popular option at higher level. Dundalk, Athlone, and Letterkenny Institutes of Technology have Level 7 courses, and UCD has a Level 8 degree. You learn subjects such as:

  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Surgical nursing
  • Veterinary practice management
  • Animal husbandry

You’ll also spend time spent training in a veterinary practice or hospital.

UCD’s Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine is the only course in Ireland that enables graduates to register with the Veterinary Council of Ireland –  a prerequisite to becoming a vet. This five-year programme includes placements in Belfield’s Veterinary Hospital and on a research farm. It also includes a period of study abroad.

One-year courses in Equestrian Studies are available at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa (Cork), Muinebheag Vocational School (Carlow), and Grennan College (Thomastown, Kilkenny). These prepare students to work in horse care.

Kildalton Agricultural College’s one-year Horse Breeding & Training (Level 5) is centred on the sport horse industry. You’ll learn to work in training yards and stud farms.

If you’d prefer a managerial role, Athlone IT and NUI Maynooth both have Equine Business programmes.

UCD and University of Limerick offer Equine Science. You’ll learn about horse health and welfare, genetics, nutrition and breeding as well as business management. Both prepare graduates for careers in academia,  research and development, and management roles in the equine industry.

The Work

Most vets work with family pets (‘companion animals’) while others may work either exclusively with farm animals or with a mixture of both. Besides empathy for animals, it is important for vets, veterinary nurses, and all animal-care professionals to have effective communication skills for dealing with pet owners. Good business management is needed in private businesses such as veterinary practices, stables, and dog kennels.

Scientific knowledge plays a huge part in careers such as veterinary medicine, animal science research, and wildlife conservation, so a keen interest in subjects such as biology and chemistry would be very helpful.

Did you know?

Cows have regional accents – a phonetics expert at the University of London confirmed claims made by farmers in England that their animals were mooing in different dialects.

Further Resources

Veterinary Council of Ireland
Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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