careers veterinary nurse

Veterinary Nurse Jobs

Veterinary nurse jobs… did you know?

If you love animals and want to help nurse them back to health, you could make the life of pets a happier one as a veterinary nurse. You’ll help the veterinary surgeon in all sorts of ways, from calming animals to taking x-rays, keeping instruments spick and span and helping to keep animals sedated during life-saving operations. You could work with all creatures great and small… from beloved family pets like Fluffy and Spot to animals in a zoo!

You’ll be carrying out medical care in the world of animal health, but you don’t need a degree to do this job. Read on for useful work experience and qualifications to get you started in a purrfect career.

Industry: Agriculture, Environment and Animal Care

Veterinary nurse job trends

How much money can you make as a veterinary nurse?

£18,000 – £26,000 (UK average)

Recent labour market information says you can earn on average between £18,000 and £26,000 a year as a veterinary nurse in the UK.

Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary as a veterinary nurse will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.

What entry qualifications and training do you need for this job?

School, college and training

Normally you’ll get started through the RCVS veterinary nurse training scheme. It usually takes around two years to complete, and leads to Level 2/3 diplomas in veterinary nursing.

To get on this course you must:

  1. Have five GCSEs grades 9-4/A*-C (or the equivalent) including English, maths and a science subject (i.e. biology, chemistry or physics)
  2. Be working as a veterinary trainee in a training practice that’s registered with the RCVS.

Alternatively, you can do an RCVS-approved higher education course in veterinary nursing.
Together with your GCSE qualifications, either being employed as a trainee or going on a relevant higher education course will enable you to take part in the RCVS veterinary nurse training scheme.

Once you’re on the scheme, you’ll carry out a range of supervised nursing activities as part of your training. You’ll normally work in a practice but also have college-based training on day or block release, with exams at the end of the first and second year.

Apprenticeships

You can seek out veterinary nursing apprenticeships with organisations like Find an Apprenticeship and the PDSA.

Career progression and further qualifications

As a veterinary nurse you could move on to become a supervisor or manager. You could take on more responsibilities, like training new staff or working in veterinary supplies. With extra training you could specialise in working with animals in zoos, wildlife parks, charities, kennels or pharmaceutical companies.

Additional veterinary qualifications you can do include:

  • HND in veterinary nursing (normally takes two years)
  • Foundation degree in veterinary nursing
  • Degree in veterinary nursing (normally takes three or four years)

To get on a foundation degree in veterinary nursing, you may need one A-level (or two H grades).
To do a veterinary nursing degree, you will usually need two A-levels (or three H grades) along with your GCSEs or their equivalent.

What experience do you need for veterinary nursing jobs?

Work experience

To become a veterinary nurse it will help you to have previous work experience caring for animals. This will help you demonstrate to employers that you can be motivated to work with all creatures, not just your favourites.

Aim to get relevant work experience to build your CV as early as you can. This can involve:

  • Pet-sitting for your neighbours over the holidays
  • Jobs, work experience or placements in kennels and catteries
  • Animal care and veterinary placements.

Volunteering

  • Look for volunteering opportunities with an animal charity
  • You can also explore volunteering opportunities to work with animals abroad.

What skills do you need for veterinary nursing jobs?

Useful skills to highlight to your employer when applying for jobs as a veterinary nurse include:

  • Self-belief skills to help you handle animals in a confident and soothing way
  • Communication and customer service skills – you will need to be tactful and sympathetic with pet owners
  • Administration and IT skills to keep records on pets up to date and work on the reception desk as needed
  • Practical skills to assist with cleaning the veterinary practice and equipment, as well as being able to handle larger animals like the larger dog breeds

Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.

What does a veterinary nurse do?

Knowing a little more about veterinary nursing will help you show employers that you understand what this job is about. It can also help you decide if it’s right for you.

Example job responsibilities:

  • Speaking to pet and animal owners – this could be to reassure them that their pet is in safe hands, or to find out more about the nature of the problem
  • Handling animals and keeping them calm while they’re being examined and treated by a vet
  • Collecting samples for diagnosis (these can include blood and urine)
  • Administering injections and medicine to animals when needed
  • General cleaning activities – including the sterilisation of surgical instruments
  • Carrying out simple lab tests and taking x-rays
  • Supporting the vets during operations, for example by handing them instruments or checking anaesthetic levels to ensure the animal patient is properly sedated. You will also help to prepare the animals for treatment before their operation.
  • Updating records and helping out in the reception area as needed.

Your first steps into veterinary jobs

To find jobs for young people in this role, search on job boards for veterinary jobs with these words in the title:

  • Student veterinary nurse
  • Veterinary nursing apprentice
  • Veterinary nursing trainee

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