Course Description

Designed to take you from the basics of animal care right through to advanced nursing practice, the Certificate IV will turn you into a fully qualified, expert Veterinary Nurse.

A thorough education in all the areas of vet nursing, the course will teach you:

  • Animal anatomy, biology and body systems
  • How to provide specific animal care, treatment and advice
  • Surgery practice and procedures
  • How to carry out vet nursing, imaging, surgical and dental routines
  • In-depth knowledge of animal nutrition
  • How to perform clinic pathology procedures
  • The art of communicating with veterinarians, colleagues and pet owners
  • Workplace health and safety practices
  • Clinical office procedures and reception duties.

By studying Open Colleges’ Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing you get the best of both worlds: the flexibility of online study and the practical hands-on experience of a work placement. You will need to have your placement locked in by Module 3.

Open Colleges’ partnership with Greencross Vets, means that students have access to a number of work placement opportunities in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. An application process applies to work placements with Greencross Vets. Contact us to learn more about this partnership.

Offered in partnership with TAFE NSW North Region, the Certificate IV is a nationally recognised qualification that you can use to gain work in veterinary clinics and animal hospitals across Australia. 

This course involves work placement that currently needs to be undertaken in Australia. More information available in our FAQs

Potential career outcomes

  • Animal Hospital Assistant
  • Veterinary Nurse
  • Wildlife Hospital Nurse
Course number E1015
Qualification name ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing
Course duration Maximum 24 months
Delivery Method Online with Work Placement
Recognition Nationally Recognised Nationally Recognised Training
Assessments Attendance report, Case studies, Interviews, Logbook, Multiple choice questions, Research projects, Short-answer questions, Workplace portfolio
Awarded by
  • TAFE NSW North Region (Provider number: 90010)


You will need to have completed year 10, or equivalent. Equivalency can be demonstrated by one of the following:

  • A qualification at Certificate II level or higher OR
  • 2 years of industry experience in a role that requires the use of written documentation and communication.

Minimum age

You will need to be at least 16 years old. If you are under 18 your enrolment form will need to be signed by a parent or guardian.


This course involves reading and undertaking a range of written assessments, as well as engaging in online forums and discussions. Furthermore, the delivery mode relies on the extensive use of written communication. As such, entry to the course requires the successful completion of English to Year 10 level.

If you haven't successfully completed English at Year 10 level, you can demonstrate equivalency through one of the following:

  • Successful completion of a Nationally Recognised Training qualification at Certificate II level or higher; or
  • 2 years relevant industry experience in a role that requires the use of written documentation and communication

Open Colleges recognises that not all people are able to read, write and perform calculations to the same standard. See the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Considerations section for more information on tools, resources and support services provided to by Open Colleges.


You will need access to a computer and the internet and have basic computing skills. Minimum specifications for your computer are:

  • Microsoft Office 2007 or equivalent
  • Broadband internet connection
  • 2GB of RAM
  • CD-ROM or DVD drive
  • Adobe Reader X or equivalent
  • Printer and scanner.

Specific requirements for Windows users:

  • Microsoft Windows XP or higher (Windows 7 or higher is recommended)
  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor (2GHz or faster recommended)
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher

Specific requirements for Mac OS users:

  • Mac OS X v 10.5 or higher (Mac OS X v 10.6 or higher is recommended
  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster Intel processor (2GHz or faster recommended)

Digital equipment

You will need access to:

  • A digital video recording device and/or a digital camera and associated software to save and upload video, image and audio files to OpenSpace. Many mobile phones and smart phones include this technology.
  • Software to view online videos and images. Software such as Adobe Reader, Windows Media Player, Windows Photo Viewer etc. are available as a free download from the internet.


To successfully complete this course, you will require basic computing skills. This includes:

  • Creating, saving and editing Microsoft Office documents
  • Accessing and searching the internet
  • Downloading and saving documents from websites
  • Uploading documents through websites
  • Participating in online discussions
  • Compressing image files
  • Recording, compressing and uploading videos.

Physical requirements

Students will need to be reasonably physically fit to undertake the work placement as the tasks and activities associated with the work placement may involve manual lifting and other physical activities.

Video assessments

As part of the assessment for some units, you will be required to produce a video of yourself performing certain tasks. Some of these videos may involve another person.

Language, Literacy and Numeracy

Our free online assessment tool can help give you an idea of the language, literacy and numeracy skills needed to study a VET course. This tool can also help you determine your learning level and help you plan your future studies. You can access the Language, Literacy and Numeracy tool here.

Open Colleges may make changes to the course from time to time to reflect changes introduced to the relevant Training Package or other regulatory requirements. Please download the course guide for current information about the course and its status.

Note: Courses offered by Open Colleges on behalf of TAFE NSW North Region may include Units of Competency that are graded by TAFE NSW.

Introduction to the veterinary workplace

  • Follow routine spoken messages
  • Perform workplace duties following routine written notices
  • Obtain and provide information in response to workplace requirements
  • Complete relevant work-related documents
  • Participate in workplace meetings and discussions
  • Plan and conduct work safely
  • Support others in working safely
  • Contribute to workplace health and safety participative processes
  • Contribute to hazard identification, workplace health and safety risk assessment and risk control activities
  • Participate in the control of emergency situations
  • Maintain veterinary supplies
  • Maintain clinic accounts
  • Process and prepare correspondence
  • Compile patient and client histories 
  • Consult the duty veterinarian
  • Identify information required
  • Maintain clinic records 
  • Follow infection control guidelines
  • Identify and respond to infection risks
  • Maintain personal protection
  • Limit contamination
  • Contribute to incursion readiness processes

Animal advice and care

  • Read and interpret product labels
  • Gather information on products and services
  • Profile nominated animal physiological features relevant to health and application of treatments
  • Take an animal history
  • Provide specific animal health advice 
  • Offer animal care product advice 
  • Advise on animal nutritional requirements 
  • Provide animal behaviour advice
  • Prepare for feeding
  • Feed and water animals
  • Complete the feeding and watering process
  • Assist in capture of animals
  • Assist in assessment of animals
  • Assist in treatment of animals

Admit and prepare patients

  • Coordinate clinic admissions
  • Provide veterinary nursing care
  • Provide grief support  to clients
  • Implement discharge procedures
  • Maintain clinic hygiene
  • Carry out daily treatment of patients
  • Assist in stock control and clinic security
  • Prepare animal for surgery under direction
  • Prepare theatre or surgical operating area for use
  • Provide pre- and post-operative patient care
  • Clean theatre equipment

Medical, surgical and dental nursing procedures

  • Identify patients and monitor clinical signs
  • Communicate with clients concerning hospitalised patients
  • Provide animal care in pain situations
  • Care for animals
  • Care for hospitalised animals
  • Prepare for and assist with medical procedures
  • Prepare for specific clinic routines
  • Prepare for surgical procedures 
  • Provide support for surgical routines
  • Monitor patients and anaesthesia
  • Perform post-operative procedures
  • Perform oral examination
  • Complete dental chart
  • Perform dental prophylaxis  under veterinary supervision
  • Assist in the performance of a simple extraction under veterinary supervision

Imaging, pathology and theatre procedures

  • Prepare imaging environment 
  • Prepare imaging equipment 
  • Implement imaging procedures
  • Carry out post-imaging procedures
  • Implement pathology procedures
  • Perform and record appropriate tests
  • Assist with post-mortem examination
  • Prepare surgery schedules
  • Implement surgery preparations
  • Clean, maintain and store theatre instruments , equipment and supplies 
  • Carry out post-operative theatre routines.

Plan, provide and maintain animal health

  • Identify commonly available dogs
  • Identify and evaluate behavioural and housing needs
  • Handle and restrain dogs
  • Assist with health care needs
  • Feed dogs
  • Maintain records
  • Follow animal health management practices
  • Monitor and maintain the physical wellbeing of animals
  • Identify and report signs of ill health or injury in animals
  • Administer and record animal treatments
  • Observe and record animal behaviour
  • Assist with managing undesirable animal behaviour
  • Implement enrichment programs
  • Identify nutritional requirements of animals
  • Evaluate food sources and calculate dietary requirements
  • Prepare diets and provide food and water
  • Monitor feeding and watering practices



What are my payment options?

Pay in full

If you pay your course fees up-front in full, you’ll benefit from a discount. When you pay in full, we don’t have to spend extra money on administration for tasks such as payment plan processing. Instead, we get to pass this saving onto you in the form of a discount.

ZipMoney Payment Plan

If you need a little more flexibility in your finances, and want to pay off your course fees over a longer period of time, you can switch to a zipMoney payment plan. Essentially, zipMoney pays your course fees for you, and you pay this loan back over 24, 36 or 48 months. As long as you are eligible, you can switch to a zipMoney plan at any time.

Payment Plan

Pay for you course in weekly or fortnightly instalments. By paying in instalments, you can schedule your payments around your regular outgoings and get ahead without breaking the bank. Open Colleges payment plans are interest-free.

Find out more

Amber Barnier

Amber has worked as a Veterinary Nurse for more than 14 years. She undertook the Veterinary Nursing Certificate with Tamworth TAFE while working within a busy mixed animal practice. Amber has also worked as a Pound Officer and spent some time employed as an Environmental Health Officer in a remote community where she worked alongside the RSPCA in Community Animal Health programs. Amber has been part of the VET sector for 6 years as a teacher of Animal Studies, Companion Animal Services and Equine Nursing with TAFE NSW and gained a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Amber has recently completed her Diploma of Veterinary Nursing General Practice.

Amy Hope

Amy has worked as a veterinary nurse and taught puppy schools in busy general practices in regional Victoria. Whilst completing her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, she qualified with high distinctions receiving an award nomination for outstanding academic achievements. Discovering a passion for training, Amy gained her Certificate IV in Training and Assessment to take on a new career in the vocational education sector. Amy enjoys encouraging nurses to learn new skills, enjoy their work, and take pride in their profession. Amy is a compassionate nurse, spending time volunteering across Thailand and will continue to do more during her career. 

Dr Julia Etel

Julia graduated from the University of Sydney in 2002 and worked as a veterinarian on the south coast of NSW. In 2004 she completed a year long internship at the Animal Referral Hospital in Sydney. Here, she developed a passion for all things medical, emergency and soft tissue. She has lived in Coffs Harbour since 2005 practising as a small animal vet. In 2012 she become a part time trainer and assessor at TAFE and in 2014 began working with Open Colleges. Her most recent addition to the family is a RPSCA rescue kitten who is a fantastic personal assistant.

Dr Louisa Johnson

Dr Louisa Johnson graduated from the University of Melbourne Veterinary School in 2001 with first class Honours and the Payne Exhibition Prize for the highest marks in her final year. She has worked in various veterinary roles, including a canine blood bank, emergency clinic, rural and urban practice as well as overseas. Prior to becoming a vet, Louisa was employed as a veterinary nurse and now greatly enjoys being involved with Open Colleges, training and assessing veterinary nurses.

Dr Merrilyn Fitzgerald

After graduating from The University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science with Honours, Dr Merrilyn Fitzgerald worked as a veterinarian and completed a post graduate course in equine medicine. Merrilyn has been a part time teacher for North Coast TAFE and has been involved in the delivery and assessment of various courses in animal studies and veterinary nursing. She has delivered presentations at several Australian Veterinary Association conferences and has written articles on horse reproductive health in equine magazines. She currently manages the equine reproduction unit for Pacific Vet Care.

Dr Yvonne van der Veek

Yvonne studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Utrecht and graduated in 2000. After doing some volunteer work in Turkey, she moved to England in 2001 and worked in several small animal practices. In 2004 she emigrated to Australia and worked in general practice for 3 years. In 2007 Yvonne joined the VCS as an emergency vet. She achieved her MACVS in 2009 and then joined the team at SASH. Yvonne has always enjoyed teaching other veterinarians and nurses and therefore pursued her Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. She is looking forward to helping veterinary nurses achieve their goals. 

Lauri Steel

After seven years of veterinary nursing, Lauri changed her focus to the vocational training sector. She decided to follow her passion for training and educating up and coming veterinary nurses and animal carers. Lauri holds a variety of qualifications including a Cert II and III in Animal Studies, Cert III and IV in Companion Animal Services, Cert IV and Dip (ECC) in Veterinary Nursing, Cert IV in TAE and Diplomas in Vocational Education and Training, Training Design and Development, Business Admin, Management and Business.?

Meghann Beckley

Meghann is a surgical, anaesthesia and critical care veterinary nurse with 18 years’ experience at various specialist hospitals across Sydney. Being a mature age, online tertiary student herself, she has always been passionate about adult education, and is very excited to have joined the education sector. Her in-depth experience within the veterinary industry enables her to create and maintain relationships with animal-based organisations across Australia. She enjoys challenging herself mentally and physically, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Genetics and Biotechnology.

Robyn Bardsley

Robyn has principally worked as a Veterinary Nurse and as a Receptionist for 23 years. She undertook the Veterinary Nursing Certificate with Tamworth TAFE while working at the South Tamworth Animal Hospital Referral practice. Robyn worked at the Coffs Harbour Veterinary Hospital, and the Koala Hospital, moving further to the mid-north coast to the Macksville Veterinary Clinic. Throughout her working life, Robyn has undertaken numerous correspondence courses related to various disciplines

Sally Lee

Sally Lee is an experienced Veterinary Nurse. She has completed both the Certificate II in Animal Studies and the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. Sally has worked in a number of veterinary practices with various professional responsibilities ranging from monitoring anaesthesia to practice management. She is currently employed by two of the busiest specialist veterinary practices in Sydney. Sally also has experience with native wildlife, a passion of hers.

Tanya Jacobs

Her love and passion for the health and wellbeing of animals has driven Tanya to educate herself and others to provide patients with paramount health and psychological care. Completing a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing pushed Tanya professionally and drove her to complete a Diploma in Emergency and Critical Care in 2011. She is privileged to have had 15 years in the industry, with 7 years spent in speciality services at two of Sydney’s leading hospitals. 

Victoria Murray

Victoria commenced her vet nursing career as a receptionist in an Eastern Suburbs clinic of Sydney where she became a veterinary nurse and covered medicine, surgery, grooming, practice management and animal attending.  Prior to commencing at Open Colleges as a workplace assessor she was employed as an emergency and critical care nurse with a 24-hour specialist practice in Sydney and worked in emergency, dermatology, surgery, oncology, ophthalmology and medicine.  She holds a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing and is a member of the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia.

Work Placement

Open Colleges has a work placement partnership with these organisation(s):

Open Colleges is proud to partner with Greencross Vets, Australasia’s largest integrated pet care company. Our veterinary nursing students have access to work placement opportunities with Greencross Vets across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Our veterinary nursing students have access to work placement opportunities with Hills District, a veterinary hospital located in New South Wales. Hills District has a team of veterinarians, nurses and support staff trained to the highest standards, providing only the best care for animals.

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BAVA) Textbook of Veterinary Nursing 5th edn. 2012 provided in Study Period 3.

The course contains a minimum of 480 hours of work placement

The workplace will need to provide veterinary services to animals. Examples of appropriate workplaces are veterinary practices or veterinary hospitals.

Each facility will require specific equipment and resources, organisational policies and procedures concerning the care and handling of animals, including those which are sick or injured. You will also need access to animals commonly encountered, as well as both native and introduced species.You will be required to take videos and photos in the workplace to submit as part of your portfolio.

Your work placement will need to be completed in Australia, and you will be responsible for the costs of any travel, accommodation, statutory checks or other requirements related to your work placement.

The workplace should also provide documents specific to animal welfare, including ethical use of animals for research, territory legislation and wildlife regulations. A full list of requirements for the workplace is available in the Workplace Assessment Guide.

Open Colleges offers this qualification in association with TAFE NSW North Region (Provider number: 90010). The testamur will be issued by TAFE NSW North Region.

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