Last Updated on January 18, 2023
This apprencticeship will give you the skills, knowledge and hands-on experience to obtain your veterinary nursing registration. You’ll learn how to maintain animal health and well-being, provide emergency care and be part of a team in a veterinary surgery. You’ll develop your communication and customer service skills as you meet and work with pet owners, other veterinary nurses and vets. You’re required to complete work experience as part of your training. This will broaden your learning about the range of animal species that you could come into contact with in practice, giving you a strong foundation for your future career as a veterinary nurse.
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Veterinary Nurse Apprenticeship
Level 3 Apprenticeship
Our Level 3 Veterinary Nursing course is an apprenticeship; meaning our students are employed and working in practice for 30+hours each week, with day release to college throughout the duration of their course.
We’re delighted to offer the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) regulated course, which follows on from our Level 2 Diploma for Veterinary Care Assistants.
The Level 3 qualification is essential to become an RCVS registered veterinary nurse. You’ll be supported in developing vital clinical and employability skills in a real life setting, in preparation for the responsibilities and accountability of being a registered veterinary nurse.Course includesFinding a placementUseful information
What will I study?
- Understanding the operational requirements of a veterinary practice
- Infection control
- Understanding the essentials of veterinary nursing care for hospitalised animals
- Comparative functional anatomy
- Applied animal welfare, health and husbandry for vet nurses
- Professional relationships and communication for veterinary nursing practice
- Essentials of practical nursing care for hospitalised animals
- Veterinary nursing support of diagnostic imaging
- Supporting veterinary operating theatre practice
- Principles of supportive veterinary anaesthesia
- Lab diagnostics
- Supply of vet medicines
- Veterinary support for small animals
- Principles of peri-operative nursing support for small animals
- Principles of emergency and critical care
- Professional registration
- Practical monitoring small animal anaesthesia
- Practical peri-operative support
- Practical nursing support
How long will it take?
- 2 and a half years, full-time (7 terms)
What qualifications do I need to start?
- At least 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English, Maths and Science, or
- Level 2 Diploma for Veterinary Care Assistants with Functional Skills in English and Maths
- Placement at an RCVS approved training practice or one which is seeking approval
What qualifications will I gain?
- Level 3 Apprenticeship in Veterinary Nursing
Course options after this programme
- Progress onto the Advanced Diploma in Veterinary Nursing
- RCVS Registered Veterinary Nurse. With experience you could lead teams of more junior nurses and nursing assistants and you could organise nursing clinics
how to get a veterinary nurse apprenticeship
Entry to training
All veterinary nurse training is conducted through colleges or universities that offer qualifications approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and their linked veterinary training practices. The RCVS regularly inspects veterinary nurse education programmes to ensure that high standards are maintained.
To start training, you will need to meet minimum entry requirements, which will be set by the awarding organisation or institution for your qualification. For further information on entry requirement,s you should contact your local college or awarding institution for advice.
A list of RCVS approved qualifications in veterinary nursing and colleges is available to download from the RCVS website at www.rcvs.org.uk.
Level 3 Diplomas are offered on either a full-time basis or apprenticeship-style alongside a job in veterinary practice. Upon successful completion of the qualification, you will be able to apply to register with the RCVS.
If you enrol on a full-time course your time will be divided between that spent in the classroom and periods of training on placement (paid or unpaid) in veterinary practice. These placements will be organised by the college for you.
As an apprentice, you will first need to find employment in an approved training practice and then attend college on a part-time or block release basis. You can obtain a list of training practices from www.rcvs.org.uk.
Training is quite intensive and takes between two and three years. A large proportion of this time will be spent gaining clinical experience in a training practice. You will be working under the supervision of qualified veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons, learning how to provide nursing care and treatments in a range of different situations. You will be assessed throughout the course via theory exams, practical examinations, a work-based progress log and assignments. You will also be expected to undertake several hours of private study each week.
Work experience and placements
Veterinary nursing is a popular career choice to people of all ages. There is no age limit when you can start training and there are many excellent VNs who didn’t enter the profession until later in life.
Many veterinary practices choose existing staff members for student placements, so you may have to accept a ward assistant or receptionist role to enable you to get a little experience before you are successful.
Gaining work experience or a placement is very competitive and demand often outweighs availability. Therefore you need to stand out from the crowd.
Below are some suggestions to help with this:
- Get as much pet handling experience as possible. Stables, catteries, kennels, pet shops, dog training groups, rescue centres and private zoos all provide invaluable experience. If you detail these in your CV be sure to include what you learned and enjoyed.
- Explore the internet for free courses. Many animal charities and Vet Schools put short distance learning courses online. Completing these will show commitment and real interest. Remember to check these are accredited by a well-known educational organisation or the RCVS; never pay for any online course that is not accredited.
- Familiarise yourself with websites set up by the industry bodies (links below). They will keep you up to date with what is going on in the industry and provide a realistic view of the jobs that are currently available.
- Provide a well-written CV to a practice. However, it is best to go in person, ask the name of the Head VN and if you could have a short appointment with them to discuss your CV.
- Investigate ‘College Open Days’ that provide VN training, attend them and discuss their entry requirements. Speak to the Tutors about what is going on in the local area they will be best placed to advise on possible contacts.
- Enlist your Guidance and Careers Teachers, they may be able to approach practices through local initiatives that provide work experience.
Alternatively, you can take a veterinary nursing degree at university. Universities will have their own entry requirements and you will need to apply via UCAS. Bachelor (BSc) and Foundation (FdSc) degrees are available and courses often include additional subjects, such as practice administration or farm animal care.
Training takes three to four years, depending on the type of course. VN degree courses include a significant proportion of practical training based in approved training practices, alongside an academic programme. A programme taking either small animal, equine or ‘mixed’ practice units.
vet nurse apprenticeship wage
Veterinary nurses support vets by caring for sick and injured animals.
Average salary (a year)
Typical hours (a week)
35 to 40
- At entry-level, veterinary nurses can earn £17,793 to £22,300.
- With up five years’ experience salaries range from £20,388 to £23,550.
- More senior veterinary nurses can earn up to £38,600, with the average salary being around £28,000.
Income data from the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) 2018 Salaries Survey. Figures are intended as a guide only.
As a full-time veterinary nurse, you’ll work an average of 39 to 49 hours per week. However, you may work longer hours depending on your role. You should bear in mind that you may be required to work unsociable hours, including weekends, bank holidays and possibly overnight cover.
Part-time and locum (temporary) work is also an option within this profession.