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A veterinary nurse works as part of a veterinary team in a practice to help provide nursing care of animals. They give advice to owners about care of their pets, and can carry out tests, treatments and minor surgical operations under the direction of a vet.
Veterinary nurses can specialise in treating either horses or small animals - which includes dogs and cats, alongside other animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs and other more exotic pets.
The qualities needed to become a veterinary nurse include having an interest in animals, being a team player, a good communicator, and possessing strong organisational skills to help the vet save time through carrying out tasks such as ordering the drugs needed.
Hours can be long, with shift work often required, and a lot of time is spent on your feet. It can be a very rewarding profession.
How to get into veterinary nursing
There are two routes into veterinary nursing: through vocational training, or higher education.
With the vocational training, you will take a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. This can be taken either as a full-time course, with time spent in classrooms and on paid or unpaid placements in a veterinary practice that are organised by your college, or as a part-time apprenticeship taken alongside a job that you have found in a practice. The Diploma involves a lot of hands-on experience and takes two to three years to complete.
Veterinary Nursing is also offered as a degree option in higher education by some universities. The course usually takes three or four years, and can offer a range of additional subjects to study, such as farm animal care. These courses provide a lot of hands-on experience.
Qualifications and experience
To start the training, the minimum grade requirements are five GCSEs grade C or above, including Maths, English language and a science subject.
For a veterinary nursing degree, the grade requirements will vary between institutions, so check with the university you are interested in.
The average salary is £19,000, with the starting salary for a qualified veterinary nurse being around £13,000.