Becoming a Veterinary Nurse in Australia 2018/2019

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What is a Veterinary Nurse?

Veterinary Nurses are those people who assist Veterinarian Doctor in the performance of their duties or carry out animal health procedures autonomously as part of a veterinary care system. The job role varies throughout the world, and common titles include veterinary nurse, veterinary technician, veterinary assistant and veterinary technologist, and variants with the prefix of ‘animal health’. Besides, the scope of practice varies between countries, with some countries allowing suitably qualified veterinary workers a scope of autonomous practice, including minor surgery, whilst others restrict their workers to simple assisting of the veterinarian.

The Veterinary Nurse Council of Australia (VNCA) defines a “Veterinary Nurse” as one who holds a formally recognised veterinary nursing qualification and maintains their knowledge and skills within the veterinary nursing profession. In Australia, the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing is considered by the veterinary industry to be the base qualification required for a person who is to provide competent support to a Veterinary Practice with additional qualifications in Diploma of Veterinary Nursing General Practice, Emergency and Critical Care, Surgery and Dentistry as per the Animal Care and Management Training Package. Certificates II in Animal Studies is a progression towards this objective however they do not have identifiable employment occupations.

Becoming a Veterinary Nurse

If Veterinarian Doctor is not your cup of tea, Veterinary Nursing is a way to go. There are flexible entry programs such as Certificate II, III & IV and diploma are available to meet the needs of other students. Starting from Day One when you enter a veterinary practice as a work experience student – right up to the time when you become a Diplomaed Veterinary Nurse, there are qualifications and training resources available to suit your needs.

The national training qualifications also mean that your abilities can now be recognised anywhere in Australia at whatever level you work. You can get these qualifications by having your competence recognised in the workplace. Specifications for competence at the various levels are given in the Veterinary Nursing Training Package materials.

                                                                                Certificate II in Animal Studies (Vet Assisting)


                                                                               Certificate III in Animal Studies (Vet Nursing)


                                                                                        Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing


                                                                                              Diploma of Veterinary Nursing


                                                              Bachelor of Science with a major in Animal Health, Disease and Welfare


                                                                                            Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

I talked to Excel Education on WhatsApp and after obtaining all the necessary information. Excel Education met me and my parents at Asia Pacific University (Malaysia) to tour us around the campus.

– Mohamad, Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Student at Asia Pacific University Malaysia.

You will also need employment to be able to become competent to the standards required and there is often a shortage of such positions available. This is because many practices employ full-time, qualified support staff, remunerate them well, provide continuing education opportunities and value the contribution that the nurses make to the business. These nurses tend to remain at the practice for a number of years.

The job is a very popular and when a position does become available the employer often fills the position from the files of resumes held or by word of mouth. You should check local and national newspapers for ads under their “professional” or “medical” categories. Send your resume to as many practices as possible, call and/or even take the initiative of presenting yourself in person at a practice for an appointment with the Practice Manager. 

Which Training Organisation to Choose

You should ensure that the training organisation you choose is able to meet your expectation. The training organisation should be licensed to deliver Veterinary Nursing course. The training organisation should be recognised as registered to deliver Nationally Recognised Training and have a Registered Training Organisation Provider number. ASQA is the government organisation that registers and licences training organisations.

The most popular institution for Cert III & IV for Veterinary Nursing program is TAFE NSW: Sydney Institute

How is the course delivered?

The premise of the national training package for Veterinary Nursing is to ensure that students gain theoretical knowledge and practical skills. The practical skills may be learned in the workplace or a simulated work environment and then applied in a real workplace. This is why it is very important to have placement in a Veterinary Practice when studying a veterinary nursing course. As part of your training, you will be required to demonstrate your skills in the workplace or a simulated veterinary practice, to a qualified workplace assessor.

For International students, In order to meet your student visa requirement, you can only enrol in full-time training despite that there are various part-time or flexible study schedules available.

Example of study schedule:

This involves attending college full time, every day per week, as per normal schooling. Students will still need to gain practical experience in a Veterinary Practice or simulated practice to fulfil the practical component of the course. The college may require you to attend a veterinary practice to gain your practical skills if they do not have a veterinary clinic attached to the college. As you are studying full time you may not have the opportunity to be employed.

How long should it take?

The time of your training will vary depending on the mode of delivery which affects the time frames of delivery. On average it should take 2 years to gain your Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. Alternatively, if you begin with a Certificate II or III in Animal Studies then it should take you approximately 3 years.

How much does it cost?

The cost of your training will vary depending on the mode of delivery, which college you attend and if you have previous qualifications.

You should consider the following in your overall costs: enrolment fees, administration fees, assessment fee, travel fees, accommodation fees, loss of pay if taking time off work to attend college and academic and financial penalties for withdrawal or failure to complete within timeframes. Traineeships are available to help with the cost of training and you should discuss this with your employer and local traineeship office.


Total Fees

in AUD


Certificate II in Captive Animals

Sydney InstituteAUD 4,110


Certificate III in Captive Animals

North Coast Institute

Sydney Institute

Western Sydney Institute

AUD 8,460


Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing

Sydney InstituteAUD 6,005


Diploma of Veterinary Nursing

Sydney InstituteAUD 5,719
Bachelor of Science (Animal Health, Disease and Welfare)

University of Melbourne

University of Sydney

AUD 37,468 –


Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

University of Melbourne

University of Queensland

Murdoch University

University of Sydney

AUD 30,930-

AUD 68,736

Note: The program listed are provided as a general guide only, the university course fees were captured base on the publicly available information on the internet. Please consult with our education advisor for further assessment.

Migration Opportunity for Veterinary Nurse in Australia

Graduates of Veterinary Nurse are able to apply for Temporary Graduate visa, depending on qualifications, for eighteen (18) months to two (2) years. An opportunity to gain relevant local work experiences which may be countered towards Permanent Residency. There is high demand for Veterinary Nurse graduates can be seen in the occupations listed consistently in SEEK and Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). A sample of which are veterinary nurse, veterinary technician, veterinary assistant and veterinary technologist, and variants with the prefix of ‘animal health’.

Contact us to find out more

International Student enquiries:

Phone: +60182414802

Email: [email protected]

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About Author
Michelle Phan
A freelance writer, graduated from Curtin University, specialises in commercial writing, love travel and enjoy walking on the beach, Michelle also feeds on Psychology and will give away just about anything to cuddle with furry felines.
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