Veterinary Nurse Tapuhi Kararehe

Veterinary nurses help assess, treat and care for sick and injured animals. They also interact with clients and perform receptionist duties.

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Veterinary nurses may choose to register with the New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association.

Veterinary nurses may do some or all of the following:

  • perform duties, such as taking and developing x-rays, collecting blood samples, and testing animals for pregnancy, under the direction of veterinarians
  • assist during surgical procedures, including monitoring the anaesthetic
  • clean, sterilise and prepare surgical instruments and other equipment used during operations
  • perform diagnostic tests and keep records
  • feed and exercise animals
  • carry out administrative and receptionist duties at a clinic and give advice to clients over the phone
  • clean the cages and surgery areas, and carry out general cleaning duties
  • accompany and assist veterinarians on call-outs to locations such as houses and farms.

Rural Animal Technician

To become a rural animal technician you need to have a New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology – Rural Animal Technician (Level 5).


Physical Requirements

Veterinary nurses need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong as they spend long periods on their feet and may have to lift heavy animals.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for veterinary nurses includes:

  • any work with animals – for example, as an SPCA volunteer or kennel hand
  • voluntary work for a veterinary practice.

Personal Qualities

Veterinary nurses need to be:

  • good communicators
  • able to handle stressful emergency situations
  • empathetic, patient and concerned for animals
  • organised
  • able to show initiative.

Veterinary nurses must also be able to deal with the process of putting an animal down (euthanasia) and providing support to clients during this difficult time.


Veterinary nurses need to have:

  • animal-handling skills
  • knowledge of basic science, including the anatomy and physiology of animals
  • Knowledge of veterinary equipment and testing methods
  • knowledge of animal care, hygiene and medicines.


Veterinary nurses:

  • may work regular business hours or flexible hours. They may have to be on call, do shift work, and work on weekends
  • work in veterinary clinics or surgeries and other locations such as farms and stables
  • may have to travel locally to visit clients, especially if working in a rural area.

Veterinary Nurses can earn around $21-$22 per hour.

Pay for veterinary nurses varies depending on qualifications, experience and employer.

  • Veterinary nurses with up to five years' experience usually earn between minimum wage and $22 an hour.
  • Veterinary nurses with five years' experience or more can earn $22 to $26 an hour.

Source: New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association, 2019.

Veterinary nurses can move into related areas, such as animal pharmaceutical sales and laboratory work, or progress into managerial positions.

With further training, they may progress to become veterinarians.

Veterinary nurses can specialise in roles such as:

Rural Animal Technician
Rural animal technicians help assess, care for and treat large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, deer and pigs.
Veterinary Technologist
Veterinary technologists help assess, care for and treat both large and small animals, and do some tasks traditionally done by veterinarians.

Years Of Training

2-3 years of training required.

To become a veterinary nurse you need to complete the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology – Veterinary Nursing Assistant (Level 5), followed by the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6).

Veterinary Nurse