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Do you have a burning ambition to become a veterinary nurse or engaged in a supporting role as a veterinary assistant? If so, your professional dreams could see you helping to address the ongoing shortage of qualified vet nurses and assistants in Australia.

However, what you have to consider is professional animal care can be very different from looking after your own pets. So, how can you be sure that it’s a career for you? In this blog, we look at what it’s like working in support of veterinarians to help you gauge its suitability.

Is veterinary assistance or vet nursing right for you? We’ll start by looking at the duties you’ll face when working in veterinary practice as a part-time or full-time vet nurse or vet assistant.

The Duties Involved in Vet Nursing & Vet Assisting

It takes a certain set of personal qualities to thrive in animal welfare, as your day will often be busy and challenging, regardless of the career path you take.

Being a vet assistant (or vet nurse assistant) is an entry-level position in the Australian veterinary care world, and those employed in it are typically engaged in the following duties:

  • Cleaning out accommodation cages
  • Exercising/feeding/grooming in-patient animals
  • Preparing the operating theatre & relevant equipment
  • Monitoring & providing updates on animal health
  • Restraining animals during treatment

In the same sphere, a vet nurse carries out a more senior role that involves working more closely with the veterinary surgeon and other veterinary technicians (a.k.a vet technician or vet tech). It’s a very hands-on role that involves:

  • Preparing sick animals for surgical procedures
  • Offering guidance and support to pet owners
  • Assisting during animal operations (as a scrubbed professional)
  • Assisting vet in delivery of euthanasia (putting animals down)
  • Offering veterinary nurse consultations
  • Administering medications to animals
  • Delivering euthanasia to terminal patients
  • Taking x-rays

Whether employed in Queensland or New Zealand, vet nurses and vet nurses get to enjoy a rewarding career during which no two days are ever quite the same. Is veterinary assistance or vet nursing right for you? The list of duties above should give you an idea.

Other Careers That Vet Nurse/Assistant Training Opens Up

The great thing about vet nurse training is that there are many settings in which your acquired skills can be employed. Obviously, you can be a vet nurse in a vet clinic, but that’s not the only kind of establishment in which you can work. You might also choose to work at:

  • A kennel or animal shelter
  • An animal hospital delivering first aid
  • A farm dealing with livestock
  • A wildlife reserve
  • A pet shop
  • A zoo

The competency skills you learn during your vet assistant/nurse training are transferrable. As such, you can provide medical care in any of the above settings - and it’s far from an exhaustive list. Is veterinary assistance or vet nursing right for you? Whether these roles seem appealing to you will give you another hint.

The Qualifications Needed For Vet Nursing & Vet Assistance

To become a fully-fledged veterinary surgeon, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science. This is the top role in the veterinary profession, and it qualifies you to join the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) - which comes with a number of benefits.

You Don’t Need a Degree to Work in Animal Care

However, in general practice, you don’t need a degree to work in animal care. In truth, it’s an overkill for vet nursing and vet assisting. You can also take the TAFE route for these roles, which would mean engaging in a Certificate IV in veterinary nursing (following on from Certificate II and Certificate III) that offers both theory and work experience.

The aforementioned study options entail years of in-person learning within the veterinary industry, and the course fees alone can pose challenges for many. Fortunately, OCA online learning offers a more convenient and cost-effective alternative.

If you lack the time or financial resources required for the previously mentioned paths, we encourage you to explore our Veterinary Assistant Pathway course. This program offers Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and credit towards higher certification levels. Additionally, you'll have the opportunity for one-on-one mentoring sessions with a fully qualified Veterinarian, providing you with valuable career insights and key learnings.

CPD-Endorsed Micro-Credential Courses

Giving you the freedom to learn at your own pace, our CPD-endorsed short online courses eliminate geographical barriers and offer an easily accessible way to get the animal studies training you need. As such, you can learn to work in a veterinary clinic from home!

All of our online veterinary assistant and vet nursing courses are so much more affordable, too, particularly as we offer flexible payment options that spread the cost. Is veterinary assistance or vet nursing right for you? These training options will again help you decide.

Get the Skills You Need For a Rewarding Animal Care Career With OCA

Is veterinary assistance or vet nursing right for you? That’s the question. We hope that by reading our blog, you can understand its appeal or lack thereof. If you’re convinced it’s the job for you, then OCA short courses online can help you get there and develop your knowledge throughout your animal care career.

OCA students get a next-level learning experience - something you can see by watching our Student Study Demo. As well as enjoying highly stimulating, industry-led content, you get an AI-driven platform that actively encourages further learning. Our entire library covers more than 20 different sectors, something you can see by visiting us today at

If you're passionate about animals and seeking a starting point to launch your career, consider enrolling in a short, CPD-approved animal care course. It could be your ideal first step towards realising your dream!

We understand choosing a career direction or the right course to study can be challenging; we are here to help. Contacting us is easy – simply call 1300 611 404 or email [email protected]. Alternatively, you can schedule a FREE career call at your preferred time... Book a call here.  

We are excited to discuss your education journey and course options!

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