How to become a Veterinary Nurse

Veterinary nurses provide support to veterinarians in the management and care of animals receiving medical and surgical treatment.

Personal requirements for a Veterinary Nurse

  • Enjoy working with animals
  • Able to handle animals with confidence and patience
  • Able to make accurate observations
  • Good communication skills
  • Good organisational skills
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Caring and understanding

Education & Training for a Veterinary Nurse

To become a veterinary nurse you usually have to complete a VET qualification. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a veterinary nurse through a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.

Additional information

Students are usually required to organise access to a veterinary clinic for full-time or part-time employment and work practice. After completing the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing and gaining 12 months of experience, you may be able to apply for accreditation with the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA). Veterinary nurses in WA are required to register with the Veterinary Surgeons' Board of WA.

Duties & Tasks of a Veterinary Nurse

Veterinary nurses:

  • Assist veterinarians during consultations, examinations and treatments
  • Coordinate patient admission and discharge
  • Care for hospitalised animals, including wound management and bandaging support, feeding and exercising
  • Assist with surgery preparations by clipping and shaving fur or hair, swabbing skin, and administering and monitoring anaesthesia
  • Provide surgical support by handling instruments, swabbing blood, monitoring oxygen and intravenous fluids, and providing post-operative care
  • Perform diagnostic laboratory tests (including urine, faecal and blood tests) and assist veterinarians to produce diagnostic radiographs
  • Assist with procedures involving radiography, ultrasound, endoscopy and electrocardiography
  • Give medication to animals under the direction of a veterinarian
  • Maintain hygiene by cleaning and disinfecting animal cages, floors, benchtops, consulting rooms, waiting rooms and surgeries
  • Sterilise instruments, dressings and other equipment
  • Maintain stock control of medicines, bandages, cotton wool, syringes and other equipment
  • Maintain equipment to be in good working order
  • Perform reception duties, including answering the telephone, making appointments, preparing accounts, accepting payments and writing receipts
  • Provide animal care information on nutrition, parasite control and behaviour
  • Educate owners about responsible pet ownership and maintaining the health and wellbeing of their pets
  • Record and maintain clinical and office records of animals attending the surgery (usually on a computer).


  • Providing animal care advice, and preparing, delivering, and reviewing animal care education programs
  • Assisting Veterinarians to administer anaesthetics and oxygen during operations
  • Holding animals to allow examination and treatment by Veterinarians
  • May act as receptionist, accept payments and undertake clerical work
  • Giving medications to animals
  • Placing animals in cages for recovery from operations and monitoring their condition
  • Maintaining stock control and records
  • May perform diagnostic laboratory tests
  • Preparing instruments and handing them to the Veterinarian
  • Cleaning and sterilising examination tables and equipment

Working conditions for a Veterinary Nurse

Veterinary nurses work as part of a team in veterinary consulting rooms, surgeries and hospitals. They generally work under strict clinical conditions. They may also be involved in the management of the staff and financial and technical resources of a veterinary practice, animal hospital or similar treatment facility. Working hours may be irregular, including evening and weekend work.

Employment Opportunities for a Veterinary Nurse

Veterinary nurses are mainly employed by veterinarians in private practices, but some find work looking after animals in zoos, wildlife parks and animal welfare organisations, as well as in veterinary research and teaching institutions. Some experienced veterinary nurses are now gaining employment in marketing and merchandising with veterinary pharmaceutical organisations. A small number are also entering the field of veterinary practice management, or specialising in specific areas such as dental, surgical support or emergency and critical care nursing.


Veterinary Nurse

Veterinary nurses provide support to veterinarians in the management and care of animals receiving medical and surgical treatment.

  • Average age
    Average age
    29 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    97% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    40 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Medium skill
  • Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    49% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    11,600 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.5%
    NSW: 29.5%
    NT: 0.7%
    QLD: 22.0%
    SA: 8.5%
    TAS: 2.3%
    VIC: 24.7%
    WA: 10.8%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 6.3%
    20-24: 23.9%
    25-34: 38.5%
    35-44: 17.8%
    45-54: 9.8%
    55-59: 2.4%
    60-64: 0.9%
    65 and Over: 0.5%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 13.1%
    Bachelor degree: 11.2%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 44.8%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 1.1%
    Year 10 and below: 4.9%
    Year 11: 3.8%
    Year 12: 21%
    Years 11 & 10: 0%
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