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A guide to veterinary assistant training

If you wish to work as a veterinary assistant or veterinary nurse, you will need to study for a veterinary nursing qualification. A career as a veterinary nurse does not just involve petting the animals in your care. You will need to study on an approved training course in order to enter into paid employment, and gain significant working responsibilities. Learn more about a career in veterinary nursing.


GCSEs To become a veterinary nurse, you will need five GCSEs at grade C or higher. GCSEs in English, Maths, and Science are particularly important.
A levels or equivalent
To study for a BSc in Veterinary Nursing, you will normally require at least two
A levels, of which at least one should be in a science-based subject such as biology or chemistry, or equivalent qualifications. For a Foundation Degree in Veterinary Nursing, you should also have completed studies at A level or equivalent. Alternative qualifications
You can choose to take the British Veterinary Nursing Association’s (BVNA) Pre-Veterinary Nursing Course. This is a day-release course approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and it allows you to enrol for veterinary nurse training in the absence of qualifications. The course is usually completed over one year, and can be studied if you are already employed or in a significant voluntary role in a veterinary practice. At the end of the course, you will be required to sit for an examination. If you are successful in your studies, you can enrol on veterinary nurse training.
Mature students
Mature students (over 21 years of age) who wish to study equine veterinary nursing, as opposed to small animal veterinary nursing, can enter onto a veterinary nursing training course in the absence of full basic academic qualifications. Prospective equine veterinary nursing students over the age of 21 can enrol on a training course with four years’ experience of working in equine practice.

Age limits

You must be at least 17 years of age in order to work as a veterinary nurse. This is because you will be working with X-rays. There is no upper age limit.

Advanced qualifications

Once you have trained as a veterinary nurse, you can take advanced courses so as to become highly qualified. You could choose to study for one of the many Diplomas in Advanced Veterinary Nursing available to you.

Salary and prospects

Qualified veterinary nurses can earn between £12,000 and £13,000 per year. After three to four years’ experience of working as a veterinary nurse, you may earn around £15,000 per annum. With significant experience, you may progress into a Head Nurse role which will earn you around £18,000 per year.

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