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How to train as a veterinary nurse

Written by: Vet Times Jobs
Published on: 11 May 2015


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If you love caring for animals and want a job where no two days are the same, veterinary nursing could be the ideal career for you.

There are two routes to becoming a qualified veterinary nurse – work-based training and higher education. Both routes lead to registered veterinary nurse status with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

Work-based training

If you want to learn to become a veterinary nurse through hands-on experience in a veterinary practice, vocational training may be the best route for you. For this option you will need to find work at a RCVS-registered training practice before you can study for a relevant qualification.

When looking for work as a trainee, it helps if you have relevant experience. This could be as a paid member of staff at a boarding kennel or as a volunteer at an animal rescue centre. You must also have at least five GCSE passes at a minimum of grade C, including English, maths and science.

Once you have secured a position as a trainee, you can begin working towards a Level 2 qualification, such as a Level 2 City & Guilds (C&G) Diploma for Veterinary Care Assistants or a Central Qualifications (CQ) Diploma for Veterinary Nursing Assistants/Diploma in Animal Nursing.

Once you have completed your Level 2 studies, you will be able to study for a Level 3 qualification, such as a Level 3 City & Guilds (C&G) Diploma in Veterinary Nursing or a Central Qualifications (CQ) Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.

Higher education

If you are academically minded, studying for a higher education qualification in veterinary nursing may be a suitable alternative to the vocational route. This involves working towards an RCVS-approved foundation degree or degree, which can take between two and four years to complete. These courses include clinical placements at RCVS-registered training practices.

To study for a higher education course, you will need at least two A levels, including biology, or an equivalent qualification, such as a Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management. You must also have at least five GCSE passes at a minimum of grade C, including English, maths and science, as well as evidence of relevant work experience.

After qualifying as a veterinary nurse you will be able explore a wide range of jobs, including clinical veterinary nursing roles in general and specialist practices. With experience, you may be able to move into supervisory or management roles, or find work in training, lecturing or research.