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Veterinary Nursing

Overview

This page provides information and data on Veterinary Nursing, which is one component of the Animal Care and Management industry.

According to the ABS in 2018 the industry included 11,826 people employed as veterinarians and 11,458 as veterinary nurses, as well as an additional 5,000 support staff. This sector of the industry has grown significantly since 2000, when there were just 13,175 people employed in the sector.

In 2018 the veterinary services industry contributed $2.4 billion to the Gross Domestic Product, an increase from $1.7 billion in 2015.

Nationally recognised training for Veterinary Nursing is delivered under the ACM - Animal Care and Management Package, which is maintained and developed by the Animal Care and Management Industry Reference Committee.

Visit the following pages for information on other Animal Services, Agriculture and the Racing industry.

Information sourced from the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level for the Veterinary Services industry and Veterinary Nursing occupation grew considerably between 2000 and 2019. The Veterinary Services industry more than doubled from 12,500 in 2000 to 26,000 in 2019. Veterinary Nurses have increased from 3,600 in 2000 to 12,100 in 2019. Both are expected to continue the upward trend in employment to 2024.

Veterinary Nurses make up 42% of the Veterinary Services workforce, and the occupation is projected to grow in employment by a further 13% by 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2018, there were just over 6,460 program enrolments in Veterinary Nursing qualifications, representing a steady decline in the number of enrolments since 2015 (9,360). Program completions have increased overall to almost 1,620 in 2018. The intended occupation for all the training was Veterinary Nurse. The vast majority of program enrolments were in certificate IV level qualifications. 

TAFE institutes provided most training (82%), with the remaining portion mainly made up of private providers (17%).

Well over half (58%) of the subjects in this sector were Commonwealth and state funded, while more than one third (38%) were funded through domestic fee for service and the remaining 4% are funded through international fee for service. Private training providers have the highest level of international fee for service funding (13%).

Around one third (32%) of students were located in New South Wales, with the many of the remaining students located in Queensland (22%), Victoria (19%) and Western Australia (11%).

More than half of all training was delivered in New South Wales (56%), followed by Queensland (14%) and Victoria (14%).

Commencements in Veterinary Nursing apprenticeships and traineeships declined from around 270 in 2010 to less than 100 in 2016, with a small increase in 2017, but has since dropped back just under 100 in 2018. Completions have declined overall, with figures in 2018 (roughly 70 completions) less than half of what they were at the peak of more than 150 in 2013. All the training was aimed at the intended occupation of Veterinary Nurse. Reporting of apprenticeships and traineeships was relatively even across Queensland (20%), Victoria (19%), South Australia (19%) and Western Australia (18%), with the remaining reported by New South Wales (14%) and Tasmania (11%).

For data on other Animal Care and Management qualifications, please visit the Animal services page.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The top generic skills identified for the Animal Care and Management industry include:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Customer service/Marketing skills
  • Managerial/Leadership skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills.

In addition to the above generic skills, the following were identified as important skill priorities for the industry:

  • Ethical animal use
  • Animal awareness and behaviour
  • Emotional intelligence of animals
  • Compassion fatigue.

The Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies a range of factors which impact upon the Veterinary Services industry and workforce. Some of the key challenges and opportunities for the industry include:

  • Addressing the impacts of depression and burnout within an industry that has already high levels of mental health issues, particularly veterinary medicine which has a suicide rate four times greater than the national average.
  • There is contention between the veterinary sector and others within the Animal Care and Management industry with regards to the skills required for equine dentistry. The Australian Veterinary Association holds the view that dental procedures on horses should only be conducted by registered veterinarians, while others would like to regulate equine dentistry with trade qualifications.
  • The demand for veterinary services, including allied services of pet insurance and pet welfare, is expected to continue to increase with the availability and advancements in treatments for broken bones and serious illnesses, combined with the growing life expectancy of animals.

Reflecting the mental health challenges faced by the industry and increasing demand for veterinary services, the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast has identified that more advanced skills are needed in veterinary nursing, particularly with regards to care in a crisis, emergency and more serious situations.

An article in the Journal of Vocational Education and Training identifies veterinary technology as an emerging higher education field in the veterinary industry, an attempt to offer more highly educated veterinary paraprofessionals and bridge the skills gap between vocational and higher education within the sector. However, as a new and emerging field, graduates face several challenges including career advancement, professional recognition and salaries.

Skills Impact provides detailed information on assessment of Veterinary Nursing units; resources and equipment required for assessment of the Certificate IV and Diploma of Veterinary Nursing; unit descriptors; work placement and work placement details in assessment requirements; opportunities and challenges for RTOs, students and employers; organising work placements; insurance and responsibilities and assessments in the workplace.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2019, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2024
    • 697 Veterinary Services
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • 3613 Veterinary Nurses.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2019, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 16 December 2019 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202019?OpenDocument.

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2019, May Quarter
    • 697 Veterinary Services.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2019, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 16 December 2019 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202019?OpenDocument.

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2000 to 2019, May Quarter
    • 3613 Veterinary Nurses.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.
    • 697 Veterinary Services.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • ACM10 Animal Care and Management Training Package
    • ACM40412 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
    • ACM40418 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
    • ACM50210 - Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (Surgical)
    • ACM50212 - Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (Surgical)
    • ACM50410 - Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (Emergency and Critical Care)
    • ACM50412 - Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (Emergency and Critical Care)
    • ACM50512 - Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (General Practice)
    • RUV40198 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
    • RUV40298 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing (Surgical)
    • RUV40398 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing (Dental)
    • RUV40404 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
    • RUV40498 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing (Critical Care and Emergency)
    • RUV50204 - Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (Surgical).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

ACM10 Animal Care and Management Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions 
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 697 Veterinary Services.
  • Employers
    • 2347 Veterinarians
    • 3613 Veterinary Nurses
    • 5122 Practice Managers
    • 5421 Receptionists
    • 697 Veterinary Services.
Updated: 16 Mar 2020
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