Veterinary Nursing (England)

Framework status: Current (latest) issue

Framework details

Framework ID: FR01707
Issue number: 4
Issued: 17 September 2012

Download framework

Veterinary Nursing (England)
(PDF document 2.65 MB)

Issued by

Contact name: Julie Murphy
Telephone number: 02476 419703
Please download the framework for email contact information.


Veterinary Nursing is the supportive care of animals receiving treatment within a veterinary practice. A Veterinary Nurse works as a member of the veterinary team, providing expert nursing care for sick animals, routine treatments, and plays a significant role in the education of owners about maintaining the health of their pets. Veterinary Nurses can carry out technical work and are skilled in undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, medical treatment and minor surgery procedures under veterinary direction.

Micro-businesses dominate the land-based and environmental sector with 97.5% of businesses in the industry in England employing fewer than ten members of staff. Many veterinary practices are small employers (60% employing fewer than ten members of staff) and therefore each person has an important role to play within the organisation. This emphasises the need for employees to have a variety of skills so as to help the practice to grow and remain profitable. Skills such as customer relations, written and oral communication and problem solving skills are all deemed to be of value to the industry. This makes apprentices a valuable member of the practice.

Veterinary Nursing is a highly regulated industry and an important industry for the land-based and environmental sector in England representing 2% of the businesses and 4% of the employment within the sector. A Veterinary Nursing Advanced Apprenticeship has been in place since August 2006 and with the revised framework, uptake is expected to increase by 30% over the next three years. This framework has been designed to include the updated qualification with the help of employers, trade associations and providers and to meet the new Specification for Apprenticeship Standards England (SASE).

Research carried out by Lantra in 2009 found that 36% of all vacancies were hard to fill vacancies and this is because applicants lack technical, practical or job-specific skills, customer handling, written and oral communications and problem solving skills, thus causing some difficulties with recruitment.

The previous completion rates of the Apprenticeship over the last three years demonstrate that there has been a 48% growth in the completion of the Veterinary Nursing Apprenticeship as indicated by the figures below:


  • Level 2 - 400             
  • Level 3 – 340             
  • Total – 740



  • Level 2 – 370             
  • Level 3 – 280            
  • Total – 640



  • Level 2 – 250             
  • Level 3 – 250           
  • Total – 500


The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' (RCVS) research found that the majority of Veterinary Nurses were employed full-time and that there is an overwhelming majority of female Veterinary Nurses with only 2% being male. The research also evidenced that black and minority ethnic representation is still extremely low.

Research carried out by Lantra in 2009 shows that industry values the Advanced Apprenticeship as an entry route for learners into the industry and this is evidenced by the growth in the Apprenticeship framework over the last three years.

The Veterinary Nursing industry feels that because of the nature of their business, work-based learning through Apprenticeships is a good way for apprentices to learn the necessary skills required to work in a practice. This important entry route has been highlighted by employers in the Veterinary Nursing Industry Action Plan, which states the need to prioritise and increase the awareness and uptake of the Veterinary Nursing Advanced Apprenticeship framework.

The framework offers two pathways that are reflective of the areas of work within the Veterinary Nursing industry:

  • Small Animal - registered Small Animal Veterinary Nurses provide expert care, support and treatment to small animals in a veterinary practice under veterinary direction

             Job Roles may include – Veterinary Nurse Small Animal, Head Veterinary Nurse

  • Equine - registered Equine Veterinary Nurses provide expert care, support and treatment to horses under veterinary direction

             Job Roles may include – Veterinary Nurse Equine, Head Equine Veterinary Nurse. 

Further information on the Veterinary Nursing industry can be found at:

RCVS: RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Professions (2010) located at under publications.

Download framework

Veterinary Nursing (England)
(PDF document 2.65 MB)