'Is it possible to become a vet after studying French?; how can I get a good job with the FA?; and should I do an MSc?'

Tricky subject

My son is in the final year of his French degree, but has decided he wants to be a vet. Can he become a vet via a postgraduate degree or must he take an undergraduate programme? Should I discourage him from such an extreme change of direction?

There is no postgraduate route into veterinary science. Some students manage to slide into the second year of a five-year degree course in the subject, but this applies only to those who have studied a relevant science degree.

Your son should try calling each vet school in the UK, to discuss his chances with admissions tutors. The bad news is that there isn't a lot of choice: only six vet schools in the country are recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). The University of Bristol has one, as do Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool. The sixth is the University of London's Royal Veterinary College.

Successful applicants will need excellent grades at A-level, including chemistry and two other sciences, plus plenty of hands-on work experience. The latter is something your son could get started on right away.

If he has the grades, it's possible he might be considered, but he'll almost certainly have to spend another five or six years as an undergraduate. And with fees of around £15,000 a year, it's not cheap. Follow the links at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/occupations for a useful description of veterinary science, or visit the RCVS website (www.rcvs.org.uk).

Sporting chance

Last year I graduated with a BA in sport in the community, and now I'd like to work for a large organisation such as the Rugby Football Union or the Football Association. Are there postgraduate programmes that might make me more employable?

Both the organisations you mention offer a wide range of career options, but all will be highly competitive and entry is usually gained following substantial experience in the field.

The FA lists jobs on its website (www.thefa.com), and your best bet is to apply for one of the regional vacancies. Have you thought about how close to the sport you want to be? Your dream job might be in coaching, sport exercise physiology, psychology or nutrition, but there are also plenty of opportunities in areas such as business, finance, administration and marketing.

Many positions will require you to do postgraduate study, but there's a vast array of options. Check out the database at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/pgdbase.

Think carefully

I have a BSc and an MSc in geology from a Nigerian university. I've been a resident in the UK for two years, and although I have a high-paying job in construction, I would prefer a more professional job. I successfully applied for the MSc in environmental analysis and assessment at Royal Holloway, but if I do it I may have to resign from my job. Should I go ahead with it?

Your position is frustrating, but you should think carefully before giving up your hard-won position. There are never any guarantees of a job following postgraduate study. Much rests on the state of the job market when you finish the programme. A paid position also allows you to look for a job without the pressure of being unemployed.

It is difficult to say whether a second Masters would improve your career prospects. Your first step should be to contact Royal Holloway and talk to the tutors about the content and structure of the programme. Finding out where past students end up is also worthwhile.

If you're unsure how your qualifications compare to those in the UK, visit the National Recognition Information Centre at www.naric.org.uk. Type in the names of your overseas degrees and the UK equivalents should pop up. You can even get an official "letter of comparability", which will cost you £40.

Thanks to Mike Cox and Nan Sherrard, careers consultants at Graduate Prospects.

Send your queries to c.green@independent.co.uk

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