Veterinary nurse


Also known as:

  • Animal Nurse
  • Veterinary Assistant

What they do

Veterinary nurses assist in the diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases, illnesses and injuries. They are responsible for the welfare of the animals who stay at the veterinary clinic or surgery, and usually feed, water, clean and exercise them. They will also administer drugs, conduct tests, check stock and order drugs and other veterinary supplies, and undertake other administrative and reception duties.

Veterinary nurses may take and develop x-rays, collect blood samples, prepare animals for surgery, assist during surgery, or run support services such as animal weight loss clinics or dog training classes.

Working conditions

Veterinary nurses usually work in veterinary clinics, surgeries or consulting rooms. They work as part of a team alongside other veterinary nurses and doctors, and may be expected to work irregular hours. As the work often involves sick animals it may be unpleasant at times, and can involve liaising with clients about their pet's illness or death.

Veterinary nurses in Western Australia may work in urban or suburban veterinary clinics, or may be involved in the farming industry in regional areas like the Wheatbelt or the Kimberley.

Tools and technologies

Veterinary nurses work often alongside veterinary doctors or surgeons during operations and other medical procedures, and as such are usually required to be familiar with the equipment and instruments used during these procedures. These may include ultrasound and radiographic machines, and surgical equipment like forceps, clamps, scissors and scalpels. Most veterinary nurses will also need to be familiar with general medical equipment like thermometers, stethoscopes and otoscopes. Some veterinary nurses may also need to be familiar with specialised animal orthopaedic equipment.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a veterinary nurse you usually need to gain a formal qualification in veterinary nursing.

The Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing is offered at registered training organisations throughout Western Australia and is a minimum requirement to work as a veterinary nurse. A Diploma in Veterinary Nursing may be completed to extend a veterinary nurse’s skills in areas such as general practice, emergency and critical care, dentistry and surgery. The Diploma is also offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and Search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.

You can also complete a traineeship. The veterinary nurse and veterinary nurse (equine) traineeships usually take 24 months to complete.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a veterinary nurse in Western Australia, you need to obtain approval of your qualifications from the Veterinary Surgeon's Board of Western Australia.