Becoming a Veterinary Nurse in Scotland

How to become a veterinary nurse in Scotland

If you’re based in Scotland (or wish to live and study there), have a passion for animals and are considering a career that combines science, care, and compassion – becoming a veterinary nurse might be the perfect path for you. Here, we’re exploring how you can become a veterinary nurse in Scotland…

Why choose veterinary nursing?

Veterinary nursing is a rewarding career that allows you to work closely with animals and their owners, providing essential care and support in veterinary practices. As a veterinary nurse, you will play a crucial role in the health and well-being of animals, assisting with surgeries, conducting diagnostic tests, and offering guidance on animal care. Find out more about the role of a veterinary nurse

How to become a Veterinary Nurse in Scotland

Educational pathways for veterinary nursing in Scotland

In order to become a veterinary nurse in Scotland, you need to complete a structured training programme approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS); there is a list of RCVS approved courses and training providers in Scotland (and elsewhere in the UK if you’re interested in relocating to study) on the RCVS website.

There are two main education routes to becoming a qualified veterinary nurse in Scotland:

There are qualifications available for those who wish to study veterinary nursing for companion animals, or equine veterinary nursing.

Scottish academic entry requirements

Entry requirements will vary by provider, so it is important to check with the institution you wish to study with for specific criteria. However, training providers based in Scotland typically require you to hold relevant SQA qualifications such as:

  • 5 subjects at a National 5 including English, Maths, and a Science subject and/or
  • Highers/Advance Highers at level A, B or C; to include English, Maths and a Science subject

Whether you are a Scottish national, or you are an international applicant looking to study veterinary nursing in Scotland, you should contact your chosen training provider if you are unsure whether your qualifications meet their entry requirements. 

View the entry requirements for our Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing for those with Scottish qualifications

Work experience and employment in a veterinary practice

Many veterinary nurse training courses, whether they are based in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK, will require you to have some experience working in a veterinary practice prior to application, so gaining relevant work experience is crucial. This not only strengthens your application but also gives you a realistic insight into the profession. You could also consider volunteering at animal shelters, kennels, catteries or stables to support your application.

Some training programmes will require you to secure employment with a veterinary practice approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), prior to application. View a list of RCVS approved training practices in Scotland

We have provided some guidance to support you in finding employment or work experience in a veterinary practice:

Applying for courses

When applying for courses, ensure your application highlights your passion for animal care, relevant work experience, and academic achievements. Prepare for interviews by understanding the roles and responsibilities of a veterinary nurse and demonstrating your commitment to the field. We have gathered some advice about how to write a veterinary nursing personal statement, and how to strengthen your application for veterinary nurse training.

Registration and professional development

Upon completing your qualification, you must register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to practice as a veterinary nurse in Scotland. Once you are an RCVS Registered Veterinary Nurse, you must keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date with regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD). At CAW, we offer a variety of CPD courses and veterinary congresses to support registered veterinary nurses in their professional development.

Career prospects for Registered Veterinary Nursing

Veterinary nursing offers diverse career opportunities. You can work in general veterinary practices, specialist clinics or animal hospitals in Scotland, as well as elsewhere in the UK or abroad. There are also roles in animal charities, research institutions, and education. You can search for veterinary nurse positions in Scotland online, using search engines such as Indeed or by looking at veterinary practice websites.

With experience, you may advance to a head veterinary nurse position, or specialise in areas such as surgical nursing, emergency and critical care, or exotic animal care. You can read more about career progression options for veterinary nurses on our website.

More advice and guidance

  • Stay motivated: Veterinary nursing is a demanding but incredibly fulfilling career. Stay focused on your goals and be prepared for continuous learning.
  • Network: You can join professional bodies such as the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) to connect with peers and stay informed about industry developments.
  • Soft skills: Develop soft skills such as communication and time management, as these are essential for working effectively in a veterinary setting. Explore the soft skills that can help you succeed as a veterinary nurse

Embarking on the journey to become a veterinary nurse is a significant commitment, but the positive impact you can make on animal health and welfare makes it a rewarding profession. With the right preparation and dedication, you can look forward to a fulfilling career in veterinary nursing.

Interested in training as a veterinary nurse at CAW?

If you’re inspired to start your veterinary nurse training, our Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Companion Animal) programme is open for applications now, with intakes starting throughout the year from our training centre in Edinburgh, and you can begin your application at any time by applying online. You can also apply to study our Level 3 Diploma in Equine Veterinary Nursing in England.

Alternatively, if you would like to find out more, or you have any questions about training with us, you can reach out to our Client Advisor team by calling 01480 422060, emailing, starting a live chat on our website or requesting a call back.