Veterinary medicines are a large industry. Livestock and pet owners spend a great deal of money to help keep their animals healthy. Vaccines and other medicines and supplements are commonly used to maintain animal health or treat illnesses.
Scope of Work
The development, manufacture and supply of veterinary medicines is a technically advanced, and often highly regulated industry. It can also be very profitable. People who work in this industry may range from factory employees, sales, marketing and administrative staff to laboratory/veterinary assistants, and research scientists.
Work in this sector may involve:
- R & D -research and development of new or improved products
- Production - factory work (manual, management or technical), producing raw products (on farm, in laboratory)
- Management - administration, quality control, financial, records, compliance
- Marketing - distribution, promotion, sales, customer education
What You Need to Learn
- Identifying injuries and other causes of ill health – including terminology, viable treatment ideas, behavioural changes indicating poor health
- Biochemistry – classification of molecules, absorption, degradation and metabolism
- Microbiology – basic microbiology, water activity, microbial activity, storage, pathogenic microbes, probiotics and pre-biotics
- Pharmacology – biodynamics, biodegradation of chemicals in the body, metabolism
- Chemistry - basic chemistry, molecular formulae, toxicity, chemical safety
- Taxonomy and genetics – differences between species & breeds within a species, naming conventions
- General anatomy and physiology – animal organs, how tissues and organs work together, body structure
- Animal ethics and legalities – legal aspects with different animals, understanding animal rights and welfare, biosecurity
- Sales – sales skills, product knowledge, psychology, people skills
- Marketing – basic marketing skills, increasing leads coming in, how to convert
- Public Speaking – develop your communication skills
- Management skills – record keeping, data entry, finances
Starting a Career
One successful way to start your career is through an internship program. There are many pharmaceutical industries that offer internships, where you don’t need to have any previous experience in sales, pharmacology or animal biology. You will gain experience and knowledge through your work within the company; many offer meals and a place to stay during that period.
- Volunteering to work at a pet shop or animal hospital. This will help you gain experience and see what is delivered to animals daily, while developing your communication skills
- Working as sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. This will help you develop your communication skills and build your network as you will have to communicate with a broad range of stakeholders: animal hospital managers, veterinarians, pet shop owners, technicians, and others
- Taking on work at a zoo or rescue centre, even if it's in sales or administration. Also look for general work, such as cleaning and maintaining cages. Any time you spend at a zoo or rescue centre increases your potential for experience and access to opportunities.
- Attending conferences and trade fairs. Ask questions and network. This will help you find new opportunities and meet people who can help along the way.
- Getting started in animal industries can be difficult because there's a lot of competition. Ensure you spend time getting comfortable with the terminology used. Develop your speaking skills so you can easily communicate with vets, owners, pet stores, and more.
Progressing a Career
Networking is the key to progressing in your career. Attend to events related to the industry, as much as you can, as that is the fastest way to expand your network and also learn of what is new, what is working and not, statistics, all information that will help you with your business.
A career progression in pharmaceutical sales can lead to the sales manager or sales director positions.
- sales director
- marketing manager
- drug and technology representative, liasing between vet practitioners and drug and device companies
- evidence-based naturopathic practitioner
Make sure you network to develop your access to opportunities. Invest time in learning more about animal sciences and specialties, through courses, books, fairs, shows, and more. You can also work on improving your financial skills, especially if you want to work in sales.