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Veterinary Nursing


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 Training Package, which is maintained and developed by the Animal Care and Management IRC.

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 and the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast.

IRC and skills forecasts

IRCs now submit comprehensive Skills Forecasts to the AISC every 3 years, with abridged annual updates submitted in the intervening 2 years.

Employment trends

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment snapshot

Employment levels for the Veterinary Services industry sector and Veterinary Nursing occupation grew considerably between 2000 and 2020. Veterinary Services tripled from approximately 12,500 in 2000 to 37,500 in 2020. Veterinary Nurses increased more than fivefold from approximately 3,600 in 2000 to 19,800 in 2020. However, both are projected to decline by 2024 to roughly 28,300 for Veterinary Services and to roughly 13,600 for Veterinary Nurses.

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

Program enrolments in Veterinary Nursing qualifications have steadily declined from around 9,360 in 2015 to 5,320 in 2019. Program completions have increased overall from almost 1,020 in 2015 to roughly 1,550 in 2019. The vast majority of program enrolments were in certificate IV level qualifications. The intended occupation for all the training was Veterinary Nurse.

TAFE institutes provided the majority of training (78%), followed by private training providers (20%) and universities (2%).

Almost two-thirds (65%) of subjects were Commonwealth and state funded. Domestic fee for service funded 30% of subjects and international fee for service funded 5%.

Most students were located in New South Wales (32%), Queensland (21%) and Victoria (20%).

Almost half of all training was delivered in New South Wales (46%), followed by Victoria (17%) and Queensland (16%).

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 to roughly 80 in 2019. Completions have declined overall, with figures in 2019 (around 60 completions) less than half of what they were at the peak of more than 150 in 2013. The intended occupation for all apprentices and trainees was Veterinary Nurse. Almost half of all apprentices and trainees in training were reported by Queensland (22%) and Western Australia (21%), followed by Victoria and South Australia with 16% each, and New South Wales and Tasmania with 13% each.

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

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were building effective relationships and communication skills. The most advertised occupations were Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses. The top employer was National Veterinary Care. The top location for job advertisements was Queensland.

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.

The Animal Care and Management IRC's 2020 Skills Forecast recognises that Veterinary Nurses require highly specialised skills in order to specialise in equine nursing as part of the Diploma of Veterinary Nursing. As part of the 2020–21 proposed Project 1: Equine Care Careers, the Animal Care and Management IRC will create a new skill set, which may then be incorporated into the ACM50219 Diploma of Veterinary Nursing when the qualification is next reviewed. The key skill areas that are required include:

  • Manual handling of foals
  • Foal neonatal gastric tube feeding
  • Total parenteral nutrition (tpn)
  • Placetitis
  • Coordination of equine theatre routines
  • Equine imaging and diagnostics
  • Post-operative and critical care equine nursing routines.

The Animal Care and Management IRC's 2020 Skills Forecast also highlights the importance of continuing professional development opportunities offered by industry associations and notes that the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA) offers a range of professional development opportunities to members and non-members throughout the year such as short self-paced courses designed to deliver high quality continuing education in a range of topics covering medicine, surgery and emergency medicine.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, 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 2020, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 August 2020

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2020, May Quarter
    • 697 Veterinary Services.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, 1 August 2020

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2000 to 2020, 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:

  • Animal Care and Management Training Package
    • ACM40410 - Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
    • 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 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 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%.

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

  • 2010 to 2019 commencements
  • 2010 to 2019 completions
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2019 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 2020, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2020,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2017 and June 2020 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
    • 3611 Animal Attendants and Trainers
    • 697 Veterinary Services.
Updated: 05 Nov 2020
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