Veterinary nurse

Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would give nursing care to sick and injured animals.

Your work would support a veterinary surgeon (vet). You would also play an important role in educating owners on good standards of animal care and welfare.

Many of the owners you talk to may be upset or anxious about their pets, so it would be important to have a kind and reassuring manner. You would also have to be very gentle with the animals you work with, as many of them will be fragile.

Tasks would vary with each animal, but in general you would:

  • Prepare and carry out nursing care plans
  • Hold animals and keep them calm during treatment
  • Give injections and drugs as instructed by the vet
  • Take blood, urine and other samples from animals, and carry out laboratory work at the practice
  • Sterilise instruments
  • Take x-rays
  • Prepare animals for operations
  • Help vets during operations
  • Carry out minor procedures such as removing stitches
  • Talk to clients about the care and progress of their animals
  • Take care of animals staying in house (feeding, cleaning cages, grooming and exercising)
  • Hold special clinics
  • Give owners advice about caring for their animals

You might also have administration and reception duties.

Working conditions

Hours

You would work between 35 and 40 hours a week, often with evening, weekend and on-call duties.

Environment

You would work in a veterinary surgery. Your employer would provide a uniform and protective clothing.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Being tactful
  • Accuracy
  • Caring for animals
  • Using computers
  • Coping with pressure
  • Working with numbers
  • Paying attention to detail

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

Entry for posts is usually very competitive.

You can qualify as a veterinary nurse either through working as a trainee and completing work-based training to gain an Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing or by completing a full time degree in Veterinary Nursing (SCQF level 9/10).

To enter a degree in veterinary nursing (SCQF level 9/10) at Edinburgh Napier requires National 5 qualifications and at least four Highers at BBBC or a relevant HNC/HND.

To enter a veterinary nursing diploma requires at least five National 5 qualifications and some courses ask for Highers.

You could also get a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing at Edinburgh and North Highland College.

SRUC Barony College offer a Veterinary Care Assistant Diploma at Level 2 and Level 3, plus a BSc/BSc (Hons) in Veterinary Nursing.

Useful subjects

Most courses and employers require: 

  • English
  • Maths
  • A science subject

You will also need

Some courses and employers require relevant work experience.

You need to be fit as there is a lot of standing and lifting animals.

You should not be allergic to animals.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show administration skills, excellent communication skills and experience working with animals such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Animal Care (SVQ level 2/3).