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Is being a veterinary nurse right for you?

The fact that a veterinary nurse must be passionate about animals, and comfortable working around them, goes without saying. Veterinary nursing is a hands-on career where you’ll be working closely with a range of animals every day, administering medications, assisting with surgeries and maintaining a clean and sterile environment.

Don’t forget that you’ll be dealing with animals’ owners, too. Good people skills are essential, and you’ll need to be a great communicator. People are often worried, stressed out or upset when they have to bring their pet to the vet, especially if it’s an emergency situation. So you’ll need to be a calming presence, prepared to offer comfort and reassurance wherever necessary.

It’s important for veterinary nurses to be well-informed and observant so they can appropriately monitor the condition of animals recovering from surgery or treatments. While there are many routine animal healthcare aspects involved, a big part of your job involves assisting with seriously ill or injured pets, so you’ll also need to be able to work well under pressure and remain calm, composed and focused in emergency situations.

Job opportunities

Veterinary nursing is a relatively small occupation in Australia, employing around 12,000 workers. Here are a few facts and stats from the government’s Job Outlook initiative about job opportunities in veterinary nursing:

  • Around 9,000 job openings are predicted in the period up to mid-2022 – a large number for this smaller occupation.
  • 70% of veterinary nurses work full-time, with weekly hours averaging around 37.
  • According to Payscale, the average salary for a veterinary nurse ranges from $35,000 to $55,000.

Types of courses

With the range of veterinary nurse courses available throughout Australia, you have a number of career pathways into the industry. Many courses involve a practical component, allowing you to gain vital hands-on experience in the industry before beginning your career. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of courses and what you can expect to cover in each.

Short courses

Veterinary nurse short courses are most commonly used by those already employed in the industry who wish to continue their professional development. Short courses are often available online, covering specific areas of best practice to help you further your skills and knowledge with the latest techniques and information.

Certificate II

Certificate II courses are usually not specific to veterinary nursing alone, but serve as a general entry point to the animal care industry. Certificate II courses generally cover the basics of caring for animals, including hygiene, health, nutrition and grooming. These courses often serve as a gateway to higher-level study.

Certificate III

Similarly to Certificate II, Certificate III courses serve as general industry qualifications for those wishing to work in assistance roles in an animal care workplace.

Certificate IV

Certificate IV courses provide specific technical and practical skills for veterinary nursing. Students are equipped with a comprehensive knowledge base about the procedures involved in running a veterinary practice and caring for sick and injured pets.

Career Outcomes

As a veterinary nurse, you’ll be assisting veterinarians in taking care of sick and injured animals in a veterinary practice or hospital environment. Potential job titles include:

  • Pet Groomer
  • Veterinary Nurse
  • Animal Care Attendant
  • Animal Carer
  • Animal Shelter Attendant
  • Assistant Zookeeper

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