Veterinary nurse

Job Description:

Veterinary nurses work with vets to provide nursing care for sick and injured animals.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

You’ll usually work in a general veterinary practice. You’ll need to care about animal welfare without being too sentimental.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • speaking to animal owners to find out the problem
  • taking blood and urine samples from animals
  • taking x-rays
  • preparing animals for treatment and assisting vets during treatment
  • giving injections, medication and removing stitches
  • talking to pet owners about how to care for their animals
  • taking care of in-patient animals
  • supervising and helping to train other assistants
  • updating records

In smaller practices you may also work on reception (organisational skills).


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of animal health
  • knowledge of biology
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Veterinary Nurse in the UK, you will need to complete a veterinary nursing course. These courses typically lead to a degree or diploma in veterinary nursing. The specific subject requirements may vary slightly depending on the institution and the course, but here are some common subject areas that can be relevant:

  1. Science Subjects: A strong background in science is important for understanding the medical aspects of veterinary nursing. Relevant subjects include Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
  2. Mathematics: Mathematics is important for performing calculations related to medication dosages, fluid therapy, and other medical treatments.
  3. English: Good communication skills, including reading, writing, and speaking, are vital for record-keeping, patient care, and client interactions.

Post School

You’ll need:

  • diploma in veterinary nursing (Level 3 in the UK), or a foundation degree or degree in veterinary nursing
  • in the UK, you will need to register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You may find it useful to have some relevant work experience. This could be as a volunteer with a vet, local kennels, and animal welfare centres.


Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work 35 to 40 hours a week, with some evenings and weekends.

You’ll usually get a uniform and protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could take on more responsibility, like practice management, supervising and training new staff, or working in veterinary supplies.

You could also train to specialise in working for a zoological/wildlife park, charity, pharmaceutical company or breeding/boarding kennels.

With further study you could work towards becoming a lecturer or researcher.