Working with animals is an often popular and sought after line of work. With many school graduates and mature age students aspiring to become veterinarians, places in veterinary science related courses are often highly competitive and very limited. However, there are many equally fulfilling jobs working with animals in the field of veterinary nursing and related support roles.
So firstly, what is involved in being a veterinary nurse?
A vet nurse is responsible for the nursing care, monitoring, comfort and well-being of patients whilst also handling much of the communication with the owners.
Some examples of the many duties a veterinary nurse may have to perform on any given day would include:
As you can see, there are a lot of responsibilities in being a veterinary nurse, making this a diverse and fulfilling job.
In Australia, to be employed as a qualified veterinary nurse you need a specific qualification: ACM40418 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. This qualification is gained through a combination of theoretical training and practical work experience in a veterinary hospital.
You can start your job search both on-line and in person.
Starting your job search on foot is a great way to establish key contacts at local clinics and hospitals and get an idea of the services and opportunities available in your area.
Whilst most veterinary nurses in Australia work in small animal practices some also work in large animal hospitals, shelters, sanctuaries, rehabilitation centres, kennels, stables, veterinary suppliers and even wildlife centres and zoos.
If you choose to knock on doors, be sure to dress appropriately to make a fantastic first impression. You should look professional, but not over-dressed (remember nursing is a practical job) and bring a detailed resume, outlining your animal care experience along with copies of your qualifications.
During your visit, it is a great idea to also ask for the Practice Manager’s name or the name of the person responsible for hiring veterinary nurses.
A day or so after your visit, call the practice and ask to discuss your CV with the Practice Manager. If there are no opportunities available, consider asking for recommendations on where to look for similar vacancies. The Practice Manager may be able to give you some insight into local opportunities in the area for animal care related work to give you experience and/or connections in the field.
There are also several industry events throughout the year which provide great networking opportunities around Australia. Organisations that arrange regular industry events include:
In Australia, there are a handful of specialty job boards specifically for the veterinary industry. In addition, there are also a number of corporately owned practices operating throughout the nation, each having their own careers and vacancy pages.
Start by checking the following websites:
Finally, if you are just starting out and haven’t yet completed a veterinary nurse qualification, we offer both the pre-requisite qualification, ACM20117 Certificate II in Animal Studies as well as ACM40418 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. Our equine focused course, ACM20217 Certificate II in Horse Care also meets the pre-requisite for AVT's Cert IV in Veterinary Nursing.
Here’s some links to get you started:
Editors Note: article updated with latest links on 13th May 2020