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The College of Animal Welfare

#onelifeliveit So you want to be a veterinary nurse?


If you love animals, are hard-working, caring and pragmatic… a career as a veterinary nurse could be for you!

As a veterinary nurse, you will get to make a difference to the lives of animals and their owners every day. You would work as part of a close knit team providing nursing care to a range of animals, this could include:

  • Preparing animals for surgery and performing minor surgical procedures
  • Monitoring anaesthetised animals and assisting in theatre
  • Nursing sick animals and administering medication
  • Taking x-rays and carrying out diagnostic tests
  • Advising owners on the health and welfare of their pets
  • Taking bookings, payments and completing necessary paperwork
  • Running nurse clinics, such as diet, worming and grooming consultations

Veterinary nursing is definitely not a 9-5 profession! Often working hours are organised in shifts and this can include nights and weekends. In fact many veterinary nurses end up taking their work home with them sometimes in the form of an abandoned or stray animal that needs a place to stay! However, increasing numbers of employers are recognising the need for part-time and more flexible roles and so this may be possible in some practices.

Whilst much of the work that veterinary nurses carry out is rewarding and varied – of course there are tedious tasks that need to be done – with veterinary nursing this is usually cleaning! Cages need to be cleaned and floors need to be mopped; therefore you should also be prepared to take on hard and dirty work when necessary.


There are two main ways of training to become a veterinary nurse;

  1. Full-time at College or University (including work placements in practice) for those who are not employed in a practice
  2. Part-time alongside employment in a veterinary practice.

Full-time training (for those not employed in veterinary practice)

The two main options for those not employed in a veterinary practice are degree level and diploma level study.

Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing – a two to three year training programme consisting of classroom tuition and practical learning whilst on unpaid work placement in veterinary practice.

FdSc/BSc (Honours) Veterinary Nursing – either a three or four year undergraduate programme incorporating both theoretical study at university and work placement in practice to gain solid practical nursing skills.

Successful completion of either of the above programmes of study, alongside the required practical hours spent in practice, will enable you to apply to join the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Register of Veterinary Nurses.

Part-time training (for those employed in a veterinary practice)

Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing/Advanced ApprenticeshipIf you are lucky enough to find employment as a student veterinary nurse or veterinary nurse apprentice in a veterinary practice you will attend College on a day release or block release basis and undertake the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing programme either as a standalone qualification or as part of an apprenticeship. Successful completion of this, alongside the required practical hours spent in practice, will enable you to apply to join the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Register of Veterinary Nurses.

Funding your training

Course fees and available funding depend on each course provider, however at The College of Animal Welfare we have tried to make learning as accessible as possible through the introduction of a monthly payment scheme and learner loan funding for eligible students. Course fees can be found on the relevant veterinary nursing course pages on our website.

Career prospects

Job prospects for registered veterinary nurses are excellent within both veterinary practice and in related industries. A nationwide shortage of veterinary nurses means that salary expectations have increased significantly in recent years. You can now expect a veterinary nurse salary to be in excess of £20,229 on average per year (2014).

Some veterinary nurses choose to remain in first opinion practice, others diversify into referral practice, charity work or even into education, sales or marketing. With further study there may also be the potential to work in physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and behaviour.

Further information

If you are thinking about training to become a veterinary nurse but are not sure how to get started or which route is best for you, please call our Customer Advice Team on 01480 422060 / for a chat. We are happy to talk you through your options and try to answer any questions you may have.

Train to be a veterinary nurse at The College of Animal Welfare…

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