Vet Nurses support Veterinarians, providing medical care to any animals that come into the clinic. The job involves undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, medical treatments and even some minor surgical procedures (under veterinary instruction), as well as educating and supporting owners on maintaining the health of their pets.
If you are caring and resilient, love animals (but like people just as much), don’t mind getting your hands dirty, and are prepared to be flexible, becoming a Vet Nurse could be a rewarding career to consider.
- Passionate about caring for animals and their welfare, but resilient enough to deal with the hard parts of the job
- A multi-tasking ninja who can work efficiently even under pressure
- A natural team player with great initiative
- Great communicator with excellent observational skills
- Administer medications, and assist with surgery and emergency procedures
- Carry out diagnostic tests and minor procedures on animals with direction from a veterinarian
- Stock medical and other supplies, dispense treatments or medications to clients with instructions on how to use them
- Maintain and sterilise equipment, keep medical records up to date
- Provide information and support to pet owners and assist in consultations
- Carry out administrative and other functions, such as cleaning, that help to keep the clinic running efficiently
Lifestyle Impact: Medium
- Part time opportunities: High – 51% of Vet Nurses work part time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Average hours for full time workers: 40 per week (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Vet Nurses’ salary (average): $57,000 per year (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au). You could earn more if you worked full time, depending on your location, experience, and qualifications.
- Future career growth: Strong (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- As a Veterinary Nurse you’ll have to work outside of 9-5 hours, may have to work long shifts, weekends, and late nights, and be flexible enough to attend to emergencies. It’s a career that may also take an emotional toll as often as it is rewarding.
Veterinary Nurses are most in demand in these locations:
Vet Nurses are needed all over Australia, but it’s a highly desirable role so competition is intense. Demand is highest in Queensland. There are opportunities to work in rural or remote settings to consider too.
How to become a Vet Nurse in Australia
A Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing is the basic qualification required for eligibility to work as a Vet Nurse. This usually takes 2 years to complete.
Step 1 – Study English, Mathematics and Biology at high school. Completing Year 12 in these subjects could help you to be more competitive when applying for jobs.
Step 2 – Complete relevant tertiary qualifications, such as:
- Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
- Diploma of Veterinary Nursing
- An Apprenticeship or Traineeship would allow you to learn and gain work experience at the same time.
Note: In WA you’ll need to register with the Western Australia Vet Surgeons Board to get approval as a trainee.
Step 4 – Consider specialising or upskilling with other tertiary qualifications and short courses to progress your career. You could go to uni and complete a Bachelor of Veterinary Science, qualify, register and work as a Veterinarian.
Find out more here –
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Find out more about alternative careers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long does it take to become a Vet Nurse?
On average it takes 2 years to complete the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. It’s recommended that you complete high school until Year 12 too; it’s a competitive field so higher qualifications could make you more appealing to potential employers.
What do Vet Nurses do?
Veterinary nurses have very diverse job roles. From cleaning and sterilising cages and equipment, to performing technical tasks like helping with administration of anaesthetics, surgical procedures, taking blood, urine and stool samples, and running diagnostic tests. They might also be carrying out dental procedures, preparing animals for surgery, as well as advising and educating owners.
Where do Vet Nurses work?
Vet Nurses mostly work in veterinary clinics, but some jobs might require you to work out in the field or in laboratory settings.
Do I need to go to university to become a Vet Nurse?
No, a university degree isn’t a requirement to work as a Vet Nurse.
Veterinary Assistant, Veterinary Nurse, Veterinary Technician – what’s the difference?
Vet Assistants require a Certificate II and work under the supervision of vet nurses and carry out basic duties. Vet Nurses carry out the job duties described in our job spotlight. Veterinary Technicians require a Bachelor’s Degree of Veterinary Technology, and they generally work in emergency hospitals and specialist clinics.
What are 3 things I can do right now to work help me become a Vet Nurse?
If you’re in Years high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Vet Nurse is right for you and start learning skills and gaining experience, here’s a few things you could try:
- Contacts vet clinics near you and volunteer, even it’s just cleaning out kennels or sweeping up around the place.
- Walk dogs or volunteer with animal welfare and rescue organisations, build up experience dealing with different animals and their temperaments.
- Complete a Certificate II in Animal Studies. Designed with students still at school in mind, you’ll learn the basic skills and knowledge to care for a range of animals. It could even qualify you to work in a veterinary clinic as an assistant.