Vetlink Employment Service

A Working Holiday in Australia – the Experience of a Lifetime

What are your plans for Boxing Day this year? How does a seat in the grandstand of the world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground sound? You could have a cold beer in hand and the sun on your back, watching the opening ball of the traditional Boxing Day test match.

Cricket not your thing? Perhaps you’d prefer to unpack a picnic in a park overlooking Sydney Harbour to witness the breathtaking spectacle that is the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race? Then again, you could just take it easy soaking up the sunshine on one of Perth’s magnificent uncrowded beaches, watching the waves of the Indian Ocean roll over the golden sand.

It might seem hard to believe, but these are just some of the experiences enjoyed by many vets each year as they make their way around Australia on a working holiday. With a couple of years’ veterinary experience under your belt and a suitable working visa, you could be joining them.

Making the transition

The good news is UK veterinary graduates don’t need to sit any additional exams to register with the Veterinary Surgeons Board/s in Australia. Most find the transition pretty straightforward, and overall, UK vets are popular and well-received down under. Sure, there are a few differences, such as drug brand names and clinical presentations such as tick envenomation, but you quickly get the hang of things.

There is usually plenty of small animal work available, both in metropolitan and rural areas, as well as a good amount of mixed practice and dairy work. The amount of equine work on offer varies throughout the year (please contact Vetlink for more information). Small animal vets need good communication skills and medical knowledge, and confidence with routine surgeries such as desexings, stitch-ups, lump removals and dentals. Mixed practice/cattle vets should be confident with pregnancy testing, calvings and caesareans.

In addition to offering a fantastic life experience, the opportunity to meet new people and make lifelong friendships, practising in different clinics on the other side of the world is a real plus for your professional development and looks good on your CV.

What’s the money like?

On average, locum vets in Australia can expect an hourly rate of AU$75-85 (approximately £39-£44) plus superannuation. Given you can book a return airfare from the UK for approximately £780, you can cover the cost of getting here with just a few days of work.

Locum positions may last anywhere from one day to several months. Accommodation and a vehicle may be provided with rural locum positions, and occasionally in metropolitan areas. After-hours (on-call) duties are typically shared amongst the vets in rural practices – and will often attract additional bonuses – but city-based practices often refer clients directly to dedicated emergency centres, leaving your nights and weekends free to explore.

Visa lowdown

For locum vet work, most UK graduates use working holiday-type visas, which allow them to work and travel within Australia for up to 36 months (3 one-year WHVs). There are a couple of working holiday visas (417 and 462). Your eligibility depends on your age at the time of application and nationality. UK and Irish citizens can apply before the age of 36.

If you are not eligible for a working holiday-type visa (say, if you are over the age limit), there are other visa options for short-term work in Australia. There are also visas suitable for full-time roles. For example, practice owners regularly sponsor vets from overseas on the Business Long Stay Visa Sub-class 482 for permanent positions. Employers usually request a minimum stay of two years.

Vetlink has a list of over 60 jobs where the practice owner is willing to sponsor an overseas vet – we are happy to email these jobs to you and discuss the positions.

Vetlink has been helping UK veterinary graduates find locum work in Australia since 1997. Our experienced recruitment consultants provide personalised service to match you with suitable jobs for your skill set and experience. We can also advise you on the type of work, pay rates, weather, bank accounts, insurance, registration and more.

As a locum vet, you might choose your itinerary based on available jobs. This is the best way to secure a good supply of work. Alternatively, you may provide Vetlink with your proposed itinerary, and we can try to find work for you along the way. Either way, we aim to keep you supplied with work so you don’t waste valuable time looking for your next job.

For example, you could fly into Melbourne and spend a month or so working in small animal practice while you soak up the cosmopolitan café culture and lively music scene. Then you might make your way across to Adelaide – via the spectacular scenery of the Great Ocean Road, of course – and take up a mixed practice job in the Barossa Valley, where your weekends will be spent exploring some of Australia’s best wineries.

From there, you could head north to the red sands and ancient landscapes of the outback and Uluru, back east to the ski fields of the Snowy Mountains or up to the tropical Daintree rainforest and the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. Then make your way to Sydney for some more work – in between climbing the Harbour Bridge and swimming at Bondi Beach – to fund your next journey, be it a continuation of your working holiday in New Zealand, a tropical Asian island getaway or an African safari.

So, what are you waiting for? In just a few weeks, you could be on the ground in Australia, ready to begin the adventure of a lifetime. For more information about an Australian working holiday, please contact us.

Last Updated: May 2024

DISCLAIMER: The above information is for guidance purposes only. Vetlink takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information, which is not intended as immigration advice. We recommend you take immigration advice from a suitably qualified professional.