Completion of the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing qualification will allow you to apply for professional registration as a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
Run on a day release, or block release, basis the programme can be undertaken by students who are employed in a veterinary practice that is approved to train veterinary nurses, or by non-employed students on work placement in a suitable veterinary practice.
As the largest provider of veterinary nurse training in the UK, we have a commitment to promoting animal welfare and raising the standards of veterinary nurse care. We can offer you the opportunity to train as a veterinary nurse by joining a community of like-minded students who all share a passion for animals and a desire to join an exciting and rewarding profession.
Our veterinary nursing lecturers are registered veterinary nurses or veterinary surgeons with strong industry experience, and they all share a common trait; their enthusiasm for helping the next generation of students to achieve their formal veterinary nursing qualifications and be the best vet nurses that they can be.
College sessions offer diverse teaching, learning and assessment approaches catered for the individual needs of learners, enabling them to develop the required knowledge and skills needed to join a rewarding profession as qualified veterinary nurses. What’s more – the easy, remote access to learning resources provided to learners via our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) means that learners get the best out of their studies with us, both in and outside of College.
In addition to the academic theory you will explore through classroom study, you will gain significant industry experience in an RCVS approved veterinary practice, either a Training Practice (TP) or an auxiliary Training Practice (aTP). This practical experience can either be gained through employment or, if you are not employed, through a voluntary work placement. Unlike many colleges, we have our own dedicated placement liaison team who will make use of connections with over 600 practices across the UK to help you find a work placement.
The valuable clinical and employment skills you will learn whilst working in a real life setting will help you to better understand how a fast paced veterinary environment operates, and will prepare you for the responsibilities that come with qualifying as a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN).
Attendance and Start Dates
Huntingdon – September, January, April
Potters Bar – September, January, April
Leeds – September, January, April
Huntingdon – January (4 x 2 week blocks per year and online learning).
Edinburgh – September
The rest of your time will be spent gaining practical experience in veterinary practice; either through employment or work placement.
Please note applications for April-starters in Potters Bar have now closed.
From assisting veterinary surgeons with the care of animals during treatment and carrying out x-rays and diagnostic tests, through to advising clients on pet care and looking after inpatients in the hospital wards, veterinary nursing involves a wide range of activities and is vital to the running of a successful veterinary practice. Over the course of the qualification you will cover:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Professional responsibilities and ethics
- Infection and immunity
- Animal handling and restraint
- Applied animal welfare, health and husbandry
- Nutrition and feeding
- Nursing models and care plans
- Diagnostic imaging and aids
- Fluid therapy
- Anaesthesia and analgesia
- Theatre practice and surgical nursing
You will undertake a variety of assessments including online examinations, assignments and case studies. You will also complete a Nursing Progress Log (NPL) over the course of your training, as evidence of practical competence. On successful completion of all other assessments you will take the final practical examination (OSCEs).
You must have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades C or above, including English Language, Mathematics and a Science subject. If you do not meet the GCSE requirement, there are alternative qualifications that may be acceptable. One of these combinations is the Level 2 Diploma for Veterinary Care Assistants, along with GCSEs grade C or above (or Level 2 Functional Skills) in English Language and Maths.
Students who are already employed in a veterinary practice looking to undertake this qualification must be at least 16 years of age. Non-employed students must be a minimum of 19 years of age on the 1st of the month in which the course starts. Please note non-employed students who are 16 years of age or over and hold the Level 2 Diploma for Veterinary Care Assistants qualification are welcome to apply.
Before applying, please ensure you read the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Disability Guidance on the Recruitment of VN Students, which can be downloaded here.
Non employed students
The work based nature of the course means that, in addition to meeting the entry requirements, students who are not already employed in a veterinary practice need to have completed a minimum of two weeks work experience in a veterinary environment within the last 12 months (preferably within a small animal first opinion veterinary practice) and be able to provide a satisfactory reference from a veterinary surgeon or registered veterinary nurse supporting your suitability for veterinary nurse training.
Entry onto the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing programme, due to its popularity, is extremely competitive; therefore you may wish to read more about how you can strengthen your application. For example, any additional work experience, hobbies or studies in an animal related subject will help your application to stand out. We also recommend providing evidence of equine experience, such as voluntary work at a yard or riding school.
Our placement liaison team are dedicated to sourcing you a placement in a veterinary practice. Connections with over 600 Training Practices across the UK means that they are usually successful in this, however it is never guaranteed. As securing a place on the course relies on having a confirmed work placement, you can try to source your own placement in a veterinary practice. This practice must be an RCVS approved Training Practice (TP) or Auxiliary Training Practice (aTP), and the practice must be able to offer you clinical coach support.
In addition to the academic entry requirements, you will need to be employed in an RCVS approved TP or aTP; a list of these can be found on the RCVS website. The practice must be willing to support you through your qualification and provide you with a clinical coach who will mentor you over the course of your training in practice.
If you have alternative or international qualifications, and would like to know if these will allow you to undertake the diploma, please contact our administration team for advice.
If you are coming to the UK to study you should have proof of competence in the English Language by holding either the ESOL qualification at levels C1 or C2 or IELTS at a minimum score of 7.0 where your international qualifications were not taught and assessed in English. You will also be required to have your foreign qualifications officially translated into English with a notarised stamp.
If you are from outside the EU or European Economic Area and wish to study in the UK, you must obtain a Tier 4 Student Visa – visit our International Students page for further information.
We offer two different payment options; our ‘Annual Fee Scheme’ or our ‘Pay as You Learn’ monthly payment scheme. Details on both of these payment options can be found here. Sources of financial help can be found on our student finance page.
Before making any financial decision it is recommended that you seek advice from an independent source, for example the Money Advice Service.
Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing
|Age at start of course||Annual Fee Scheme (?)||Pay as You Learn Scheme (?)||Awarding Body Fees*|
|16-18||£2,950 per year||£246 per month||Year 1 £441.10
Year 2 £217
|19+||£5,678 per year or one payment of £11,356||£475 per month||Year 1 £441.10
Year 2 £217
|Scotland (Edinburgh Centre)||£1,995 per year||£166 per month||Year 1 £441.10
Year 2 £217
|Overseas||£6,250 per year or one payment of £12,500.||Not available||Year 1 £441.10
Year 2 £217
* Awarding Body Fees are recharged at cost and may be subject to change.
These are current figures and may be subject to change.
The differences in course fees reflect the level of funding that is available as a result of government policies and priorities. These may be as a result of age, employment status, previous education achievements, or location for example, and are outside the control of The College of Animal Welfare.
On completion of the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing and the required number of hours of veterinary nursing training, you will be eligible to apply to join the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) Register of Veterinary Nurses and use the post nominal term, RVN. Entry on the register allows you to legally practice as a veterinary nurse under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.
For newly graduated nurses – good news! A national shortage of veterinary nurses in the UK means that your job prospects once qualified are excellent. Salary expectations have also improved in recent years, meaning that you can now expect a veterinary nurse salary to be in excess of £20,000 per year on average. Registered and trainee veterinary nurse jobs advertised on our job board can be found here.
Many veterinary nurses choose to remain in first opinion veterinary practice, however there are also opportunities to pursue more specialist roles in referral practices, emergency ‘out of hours’ practices or large veterinary hospitals, perhaps specialising in a particular area such as surgical nursing. You could also find work in teaching, management, research, sales or rehabilitation.
You may also be looking to pursue further training with us. ‘Topping up’ your qualification to a full degree by undertaking the BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing Degree Top Up Programme, available at Edinburgh, means that more opportunities in teaching or post graduate training become available to you. This top up programme is now available by distance learning making it more accessible than ever.
Remember that once you are qualified, it is your professional responsibility to continue your veterinary nurse training by ensuring that your professional knowledge and skills remain up-to-date. You can do this by undertaking short courses or further veterinary nursing qualifications. Our CPD and short courses are designed for registered and student veterinary nurses a-like, and can be undertaken to refresh veterinary knowledge and keep up to date with the latest developments in the profession.
Find out more about veterinary nursing on our career profiles.
“I really enjoyed the interactive learning sessions, particularly group work and debates. I loved learning about anatomy and found recaps at the end of sessions very useful.I made new friends who shared my passion for animals and found the College staff to be friendly and approachable”. (Read the case study)
Lydia Christie Smith
City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (2014)
“Without a doubt, the work placement in veterinary practice is my favourite part of the programme. This course offers a lot of hands on experience and I love it. It is a lot of work and it’s tough but it is all worth it in the end. You’ll meet a lot of great people, both in College and in placement” (Read the case study)
Linn Cecile Johansen
City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (2015)