Advanced Apprenticeship in Veterinary Nursing

This programme provides learners entering the veterinary nursing profession with the skills and knowledge to become a qualified registered Veterinary Nurse. Student veterinary nurses work under the supervision of qualified veterinary nurses and Veterinary Surgeons to provide supportive care of animals receiving treatment.

Entry Requirements

To undertake an advanced apprenticeship you must be employed as a student veterinary nurse for a minimum of 30 hours per week.  If you already have a job, and your employer agrees, you can join an apprenticeship.  If you are seeking employment as a student veterinary nurse you can find your own Employer or apply for a job through the apprenticeship vacancies service.   All apprentices need to have contract of employment and earn at least the the national minimum wage for apprentices.  You must have a love of animals and a genuine commitment to ensuring their health and welfare.

To register as a student veterinary nurse you will need to have at least five GCSE passes at grade C or higher. Subjects must include English language, mathematics and a science subject plus 2 other GCSEs. Where an entrant does not have such qualifications, equivalent qualifications may be accepted.  This includes:

  • ABC Awards (BVNA) Certificate for Animal Nursing Assistants
  • NPTC/C&G National Certificate for Veterinary Care Assistants

Please note that these qualifications are acceptable only when accompanied by Key/Functional Skills at level 2 in Application of Number/Maths and Communication/English.

Length of Course/Start Date

The course normally lasts 36 months.  You can start the programme at any time of the year.

Contents of the programme

On the advanced apprenticeship in veterinary nursing you will study for the following qualifications:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Small Animal pathway)
  • Functional Skills in English and Maths at Level 2.

Other non-certificates components of the programme include: 

  • Induction to apprenticeship
  • Employment Rights and Responsibilities
  • Personal Learning and Thinking Skills
  • Be Safe! (health and safety)

Attendance  You will need to undertake an induction (introduction) to apprenticeship, either at Badgehurst Training Ltd.’s Centre or your Employer’s premises.  After then you will attend on a day-release basis, with preparation for tests and completion of assignments set as homework.  The course covers the operational requirements of a veterinary practice, professional relationships and communication, anatomy, animal welfare, health and husbandry, nursing care, infection control,  stock management, radiography, laboratory, theatre practice, anaesthesia,  emergency and critical care. Learning is delivered through a combination of on- and off-the-job training.  You may also need to attend additional sessions for functional skills in maths and English, depending on your levels of achievement in these areas.  One of our Training Officers will visit you regularly in your work place to provide support, deliver training, set targets and carry out assessment.


There are a range of assessment methods used on  this programme, including the formal examinations (both theory and practical), assignments and tasks, and the collection of evidence of practical performance in the workplace (recorded on an e-portfolio).

Progression and Employment Opportunities

Once qualified many Registered Veterinary Nurses continue to work in veterinary practice, taking on greater responsibilities, such as head nurse, practice manager, and teaching/training other nurses or supporting staff. Positions outside veterinary practice includes work in research establishments, laboratories, universities, colleges, zoological/wildlife parks, charities, pharmaceutical companies and breeding/boarding kennels. Further options include other areas of the animal care industry such as animal boarding manager, or an animal welfare inspector.

Apprentices successfully completing the Advanced Apprenticeship have opportunities to progress within the industry by going on to Higher Education courses such as a HNC/D, Foundation Degree or Degree (BSc). Examples of courses available across the UK include:

  • Veterinary Nursing with Business Management
  • Veterinary Nursing and Animal Behaviour
  • Veterinary Nursing with Practice Management
  • Bioveterinary Science
  • Equine Veterinary Nursing

For Apprentices who wish to continue their development of skills and qualifications beyond degree level, opportunities exist to progress further in Higher Education with courses such as a Masters Degree which could include:

  • Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health by Distance Learning
  • Veterinary Science
  • Clinical Veterinary Science

UCAS has lots of information regarding Higher Education courses and providers, along with specific information on entry requirements.  The UK Pass website is a good source of information on post graduate courses as well.

In terms of progression within employment, there are other professional development opportunities for those not wishing to follow the degree progression route including the RCVS Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing. For further information on continuous professional development please look at the RCVS website .