To Alicewave - I guess it's going to depend on where you want to start in your career. Like anything else, I think that you can start at the bottom and work up (for low pay!), but at least you get involved, or go for the education route and take a second degree - or whatever else you feel you need first - in a more appropriate subject.
Difficult one that! I'm in a career I don't care much for, and would also love to get into working with animals, too. My aim is to make enough money in my job to then pack it in and follow my dream (rescue centre for giant snakes and anything else which needs TLC). Do let us all know what you decide to do... it's really interesting!!!
Mucho sympathy on the vet and the snakes and the bills!!! I agree that I think I'd kill him! If it's anything like the one I go to, they make you sign a disclaimer before they do anything, because most of the drugs and equipment hasn't be approved for reptile use (even though it is actually ok to use), so they will automatically be doing things 'off-label'.
Gotta say though, we have a superb vet, but they are in Leeds. In fact there is another in Leeds who specialises in exotics, as he is a zoo vet. Ours is not as expensive as yours, either - we had a boa with RI at christmas - £147 for antibiotics, xrays (including anaesthetic), tracheal wash, fecal, 5 days in hospital under observation, and a lot of long phone conversations. Bit of a long way for you to travel, tho!
"If you think you can't afford it, you just don't want it badly enough..."