Veterinary Nurse Apprenticeships

If you’re looking to start a rewarding career straight out of school, and are passionate about giving animals the best quality of life, read our guide to veterinary nursing apprenticeships to learn how they work and why you should do one.

Veterinary Nurse Apprenticeships

So you’re obsessed with animals, whether they run, crawl, swim or slither. And want to make sure they feel the best they can. 

As a veterinary nurse, you’ll do this and more. Veterinary nursing is the supportive care of sick, injured and hospitalised animals. Like nurses in human medicine, veterinary nurses are skilled medical professionals who work alongside veterinarians to treat ill pets.

So what does that involve? X-rays, injections and preparing animals for surgery. Oh, and you’ll groom them and create care packages for their owners to ensure they’re as fit as fiddles when they go home. 

If you’re looking to start a rewarding career straight out of school, and are passionate about giving animals the best quality of life, read our guide to veterinary nursing apprenticeships to learn how they work and why you should do one.

Can you do an apprenticeship to become a veterinary nurse?

Definitely! Veterinary nursing apprenticeships are available at an advanced level. As an apprentice, you’ll work for your employer four days a week and study towards industry-recognised qualifications for the remaining day. 

Did you know that 91% of apprentices go on to secure employment after completing their apprenticeship and 93% stay in their jobs after finishing their programme?

Advanced apprenticeships are the second step on the apprenticeship ladder. So if you’re a school leaver who wants to care for animals professionally, this is a brilliant option for you.

Want to know the best bit? You’ll receive on-the-job training, a Level 3 Diploma and a full-time wage during your programme. That’s a lot of perks!

Just remember, you'll need to balance your studies with a full-time job. You might need to stay behind, work unsociable hours and even pull long nights. However, all your hard work will be worth it for a role this rewarding.

"“My role is very varied, it covers all aspects of veterinary practice. I can be on reception one minute, and the next assisting the vet. I also assist my line manager in managing the reception team.”" Lead Veterinary Receptionist, at Drove Veterinary Hospital

TOP TIP: To become a veterinary nurse, you’ll need a licence from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). But before you can get that licence, you’ll need a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing from an RCVS approved training practice.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for veterinary nursing depend on your course, but you’ll usually need:

  • Five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English, Maths and Science.

If you don’t have GCSEs, you can start your training as an animal nursing assistant or a veterinary care assistant at the British Veterinary Nursing Association. Just get in touch with the Education Manager there for more information. 

Veterinary nursing is a highly competitive industry, so there's one thing you'll need to make sure your application stands out from the crowd. Experience. As much as you can get your hands on. You could get experience at:

  • Your local kennels or cattery

  • A pet shop or grooming centre

  • A rehoming centre

  • Your local farm or even an abattoir

What skills do you need?

To become a veterinary nurse, you’ll need a wide range of skills including:

  • A love for animals and concern for their wellbeing

  • Emotional strength. You’ll have to face some difficult times as a veterinary nurse, especially when animals come to the end of their life

  • Excellent communication skills to reassure anxious pet owners 

  • Working independently and using your own initiative, especially if you’re the only person responsible for the animal’s welfare, for instance, during out-of-work hours

  • Accuracy and attention to detail, particularly when giving patients their medications

  • Comfortable around blood.

How do I find a veterinary nursing apprenticeship?

One way to find an apprenticeship in veterinary nursing is through a training practice. Abbeydale offers level 3 apprenticeships in veterinary nursing. So if you’re considering a career in this industry, check out their two-year programme. 

You’ll get to study in Monmouth (Wales) - the UK’s first Bee Town!

Here are four reasons to study at Abbeydale.

  • Industry-focused courses that offer great career prospects

  • Practical training with qualified veterinary nurses

  • Mentoring throughout every stage of your programme

  • Quality teaching which leads to exam success.

Looking for something closer to home? Check out GOV.UK to see which training providers offer veterinary nursing apprenticeships in a practice near you.


You can apply for an apprenticeship at Vets4Pets too. Vets4Pets are healthcare experts that advise owners on how best to look after their pets. From providing treatments to emergency medical procedures, they’re a great option if you’re starting out in your career. 

Vets4Pets offers two kinds of apprenticeships:

  • Clinical apprenticeships

  • Non-Clinical apprenticeships

As a clinical apprentice, you’ll start your career as a level 2 veterinary care assistant or a level 3 veterinary nurse. 

Level 2 apprentices are responsible for:

  • Feeding the animals

  • Monitoring their health for improvements

  • Cleaning and changing bedding.

Level 3 apprentices will get to:

  • Perform blood tests, MRIs and ultrasounds

  • Carry out minor surgical procedures - under veterinary supervision of course.

As a non-clinical apprentice, you’ll work within the support office in a business role. You’ll carry out administrative tasks like printing and filing, as well as responding to customer queries.

If you work in their finance department, you’ll learn to process invoices and try your hand at bookkeeping too.

Need some help with your job search? Have a look at our Best Student Employers table. It’s based on thousands of honest reviews written by apprentices just like you. So if you’re looking for a role in animal care, here’s the place to go.

How long is a veterinary nurse apprenticeship?

A veterinary nurse apprenticeship takes between 2-3 years to complete, including two years of college attendance. 

During this time, you’ll: 

  • Work for a minimum of 30 hours per week at an RCVS-approved Veterinary Training Practice

  • Attend college one day a week. 

Once you’ve finished your training, you’ll sit your End Point Assessment. Then you’ll be able to register professionally with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. How amazing is that!

Is vet nursing hard to get into?

Veterinary nursing is hard. It’s hard getting a Level 3 Diploma -  especially in a vet practice - as the demand for places is high. So if you want to work in this sector, you’ll need to begin your research 2/3 years in advance and do everything in your power to get those grades. 

Once you’re in, that’s when the real work starts. And it’s tough -  both physically and emotionally. As a veterinary nurse, you’ll spend your days comforting cats, lifting animals onto treatment tables or preparing laboratory samples. 

You’ll also be standing or squatting for long periods of time. And when you’re not with the animals, you’ll be cleaning out kennels or scrubbing sinks and floors.

So if you’re expecting to be cuddling cockapoos all day, veterinary nursing might not be the right career path for you. However, if you’re willing to straddle a python and pull thick, slimy mucus out of its throat, you’ll be ready for anything.

Having second thoughts? Why not start as a vet receptionist or animal attendant and take things from there?

Watch this video to discover what a day in the life of a veterinary nurse apprentice is really like...

Do veterinary nurses get paid much?

One of the first things you may ask yourself if you want to get into veterinary nursing is how much you’ll earn. Well, as entry level roles go, you’ll be earning a pretty good wage in a veterinary nurse apprenticeship with huge room for progression.

As an apprentice, you’ll get paid for:

  • Your usual working hours

  • Any training that’s part of your programme

  • Extra courses you’ll need to take (Maths and English, for example).

Your salary will ultimately depend on your experience. At entry level, veterinary nurses can earn anything between £17,793 - £22,300 per year. While the average UK salary is around £28,000, senior veterinary nurses can take home a mahoosive £38,600 each year.

Want to find out more about what it’s really like to do an apprenticeship in animal care? Have a read of over 40,000 student-written reviews.

Browse Animal Care Apprenticeship Reviews

What other jobs can a veterinary nurse do?

The road doesn’t end when you become a veterinary nurse. It opens wide - wider than the mouth of a bowhead whale - now that’s huge.

Fancy a change? Why not become a zookeeper, marine biologist or medical transcriptionist instead. Veterinary nursing will pave the way for a career in those fields too!


Zookeepers are responsible for maintaining the health, safety and welfare of animals at their zoos.

From cleaning animal enclosures to reporting unusual behavioural changes in the animals, a career in zookeeping will keep you on your toes.

You’ll also get to experience plenty of fun too, like feeding monkeys and showering elephants. So if you’re patient and have bundles of energy (remember you’ll be doing lots of kneeling and climbing), you’ll love a career in zookeeping.

Marine Biology

While marine biology doesn’t always involve direct contact with animals, you’ll spend lots of time getting to know them. As a marine biologist, you’ll study organisms and ecosystems in the oceans, whether collecting specimens or carrying out laboratory-based experiments.

You could also find yourself analysing migration patterns, exploring underwater photosynthesis or investigating the impact that human activity is having on coral reefs.

Marine biology is a brilliant career option if you’re passionate about the environment and want to do your bit to tackle climate change.

Medical Transcriptionist

As the demand for healthcare grows, so does the demand for medical transcriptionists.

This role largely involves listening to audio files and converting them into written documents, which become part of the patient’s medical records and form the basis of follow-up care.

Unlike veterinary nurses, medical transcriptionists have the flexibility to work from home and choose their own hours. No wonder they’re a popular career choice!! 

As you’ve seen, there are TONS of career options for an animal lover like yourself. Becoming a veterinary nurse just scratches the surface.

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