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If you’ve ever considered a highly rewarding vet nurse career, but you’ve never got as far as finding out what's involved, we're here to shine some light on the subject. There are different ways to gain the experience and qualifications you need to work with animals for a living, and we’ll provide an insight into how you can get them.

We’ll also cover the steps you must take and the credentials you'll need to care for animals professionally and look at the available vet nurse courses. So, first of all, let's look at the crucial first steps you need to take to realise your dream of a career in vet nursing. 

Starting On Your Vet Nurse Career

Wherever you end up practising animal care, most in vet nursing begin by working as a veterinary assistant, a kennel hand or a ward assistant. In this role, you’ll take care of tasks like cage cleaning, walking and feeding sick and recuperating animals - all vital to becoming a fully-fledged vet nurse.

You may also be asked to perform minor physical examinations whilst under the supervision of more experienced veterinary staff. Don’t worry too much about being thrown in at the deep end, as you'll likely have lots of support.

Building On Your Animal Health Knowledge

Once you have some experience in the industry, you can build on what you’ve learnt and take the next step in your career. Intermediate online courses will allow you to go from performing basic animal welfare duties to more advanced vet nursing tasks. Courses at this level will take you from simply getting a feel for the industry to getting a real head start on your vet nursing career. A vet nurse job is out there for you.

Holding intermediate qualifications will mean you’ll have acquired considerable knowledge and make you very attractive to employers. You'll be well on your way to becoming a fully accredited vet nurse.

A Full Vet Nurse Qualification: What It Entails 

Now we come to Nationally Accredited studies that allow you to become a fully-fledged veterinary nurse. These accreditations are typically nationally recognised and designed to positively impact how you provide care. During these courses, you’ll gain a full understanding of how to provide advice to owners and care for their animals. Discuss with OCA about our Pathway Program, where we partner with reputable Universities, TAFE and RTOs to help you progress towards your dream career! 

Once you’ve achieved this qualification, you’ll be able to apply for complex roles that involve tasks such as assisting in veterinary surgery, monitoring anaesthesia and consulting - to name a few. Sure, you’ll still assist the vet sometimes, but the knowledge you’ll have gained will also allow you to be responsible for a whole lot more.

It’s worth repeating that all the courses we’ve spoken about can be taken as and when you’re ready. This means that you can gain some experience working with animals, to begin with, and enhance your career when you’re comfortable doing so. 

Day in the Life of a Vet Nurse

Being a vet nurse in Australia is no walk in the park; it's an action-packed role that demands both clinical and communication skills. Here’s what a vet nurse does on a typical day:

Clinical Duties

  • Triage: One of your first tasks is to perform initial assessments of incoming animals to gauge the urgency of their needs.
  • Prep Work: Before each consultation, you'll prepare the room and sterilise equipment to ensure a safe and efficient workspace.
  • Medical Procedures: Whether it's administering medication or assisting with surgeries and, if need be, euthanasia, your hands are never idle.
  • Patient Monitoring: Keeping an eye on an animal's vital signs while in the clinic is crucial for its well-being.

Administrative and Customer Service Roles

  • Pet Discharge: You'll often be the one handing pets back to their owners, along with important follow-up care instructions.
  • Inventory Management: Stocking up on food, medicines, and equipment falls under your role.
  • Front-Desk Duties: Expect to handle reception tasks, record-keeping, and other administrative duties.

The Human Element

  • Pet Owner Support: A part of the job is providing emotional support to anxious or upset pet owners, offering that critical human touch.
  • Animal Care: When pets stay overnight, you're in charge of their feeding, care, and medication.

Vet Nurse Skills

Wondering if you have what it takes to succeed in veterinary nursing? This career path demands a unique blend of soft skills and technical expertise.

Here's a closer look at what sets a great vet nurse apart:

Vet Nurse Soft Skills

  • Teamwork: In a veterinary clinic, collaboration is key. You'll interact with senior veterinarians, practice managers, and receptionists daily. If you've thrived in team environments before, you're already on the right track.
  • Time Management: Veterinary practices run on tight schedules. Effective time management helps you work efficiently, ensuring smooth operations and timely care for each patient.
  • Empathy: Whether you've cared for a pet or a person, any experience that has required you to show compassion can be a valuable asset. Empathy can't be taught but is crucial for connecting with both animals and their owners.
  • Communication: Clarity and accuracy in communication are essential, from record-keeping to discussing a pet's health with its owners.

Vet Nurse Hard Skills

To gain these essential practical skills, you'll need to undertake a vet nursing course. These skills often include:

  • Animal Health Care: Learn about proper nutrition, pest control, and basic grooming techniques.
  • Safe Animal Handling: Work effectively with animals, even when they're anxious or injured.
  • Medical Procedures: Acquire skills in administering medications, anaesthesia, and injections.
  • Dental Care: Learn the basics of veterinary dental procedures.
  • Infection Control: Understand the policies and procedures that keep both animals and humans safe in a clinical environment.
  • Administrative Skills: From record-keeping to inventory management, you'll be in charge of a range of administrative tasks.
  • First Aid & Safety: Animal first aid skills are a fundamental part of the role, often covered in your initial training.

How Much Can I Earn as a Nurse?

The average salary of a vet nurse in Australia according to the JSA is between $65,000 to $70,000 per year.

Vet Nurse Employment Outlook

The Australian job market for vet nurses has been steadily growing over the past five years.

According to the Australian Government Labour Market Insights, this trend is expected to continue well into 2026, with the number of vet nurses likely to reach 17,800.

Whether you're interested in full-time or part-time roles, opportunities abound in veterinary practices and animal hospitals across the nation.

All in all, it's a great time to embark on this rewarding career path.

How to Become a Vet Nurse

If you're passionate about animal health and veterinary care and are considering a career as a vet nurse in Australia, the good news is that the pathway is more flexible than ever.

With online courses and micro-credentials, you now have alternative avenues to become a vet nurse beyond just the traditional pathways.

  • Online Courses: Various online platforms (like Online Courses Australia) offer courses specifically geared towards veterinary nursing. These cover practical skills, animal science, and healthcare fundamentals to kickstart your nursing career.
  • Micro-Credentials: Think of these as mini-certifications like animal welfare courses or holistic animal health care courses. Whether it's learning the foundations of caring for animals to the best practices for assisting veterinarians, these focused credentials can help you tailor your expertise.

Volunteer or Intern

For many aspiring vet nurses, the career path often starts with roles as animal attendants or through volunteer work at veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. Taking up an internship can also offer a valuable entry point into the veterinary industry.

Flexible Courses At Your Own Pace, With Online Courses Australia: 

At Online Courses Australia, we offer a number of vet nurse courses and animal courses online. There are a number of career pathways to becoming a vet nurse, and the flexible online learning we provide allows you to achieve your vet nursing ambitions at a pace that suits you.

Are you interested in becoming a vet nurse or vet assistant? Check out our entry-level vet assistant course. Preview our entire range of animal care courses. Need help writing your resume? Check out our How to Write a Resume course or call our friendly team on 1300 611 404. Enquire about vet nurse jobs today!

Vet Nursing Course Info Pack Download


If you have additional questions about our vet nursing courses or our full range of courses that cover more than 20 different professional industries:

Related Courses & Roles

If you have a genuine passion for animals and a knack for empathy, the veterinary industry offers a wealth of career options beyond just vet nursing. From roles in animal welfare to positions that require specialised skills within veterinary practices, the opportunities are abundant.

Here are some related courses and roles to check out:

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