Veterinary NurseAlternative titles

Tapuhi Kararehe

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Animal Nurse
Rural Animal Technician
Veterinary Assistant
Veterinary Technologist

Veterinary nurses help in the examination, treatment and rehabilitation of sick and injured animals. They also interact with clients and perform receptionist duties.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a veterinary nurse, but most employers prefer people who have a recognised certificate or diploma in veterinary nursing. There are a number of veterinary nurse training courses, some of which can be done part-time through correspondence.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a veterinary nurse. However, science subjects, computing and English are useful. Entrance requirements for tertiary study courses vary, but NCEA Level 2 in English and Biology (or equivalent) is usually a minimum.

Additional requirements for specialist roles:

Veterinary technologist and rural animal technician roles

Some veterinary nurses may choose to train as veterinary technologists or rural animal technicians. These are new roles, developed partly because of a shortage of rural vets, and they qualify people to do a wider range of tasks than veterinary nurses are able to do.

There are two veterinary technologist/rural animal technician qualifications:

  • Certificate in Rural Animal Technology – Otago Polytechnic
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Technology – Massey University.

Personal requirements

Veterinary nurses need to be:

  • able to handle stressful emergency situations
  • empathetic, patient and concerned for animals
  • good communicators
  • organised.

Veterinary nurses must also be able to deal with the process of putting an animal down (euthanasia), and providing support to clients during this difficult time.

Useful experience

Useful experience for veterinary nurses includes:

  • any work with animals, for instance as an SPCA volunteer or kennel hand
  • voluntary work for a veterinary practice.

Physical requirements

Veterinary nurses need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong as the work can be physically demanding.

Related courses

View information on courses in the course database

Find out more about training

New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association
0800 868 773 - www.nzvna.org.nz/
Krystal Kelly cleaning out a cage

If you want to be a vet nurse, it's a good idea to volunteer at a local vet clinic and find out what is involved

Updated 8 Apr 2014