Course Description

The Pathway combines two qualifications: the Certificate II in Animal Studies and the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. This means that even if you have no prior learning or experience in this area, you have a path that could lead you to a veterinary nursing career.

During your studies you will build a solid understanding of:

  • Basics of animal care
  • Foundational scientific principles
  • Animal anatomy, biology and body systems
  • How to provide specific animal care, treatment and advice
  • Surgery practice and procedures
  • In-depth knowledge of animal nutrition
  • The art of communicating with veterinarians, colleagues and pet owners
  • Workplace health and safety practices
  • Clinical office procedures and reception duties.

Two work placement modules included in the Pathway mean that you get to put your knowledge to work in a real world veterinary clinic or animal hospital of your choosing. 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

You will save a significant amount of money by combining the two Certificates in one Pathway program, rather than studying them separately.

Studying veterinary nursing online with Open Colleges means there are no classrooms and no deadlines, you study when you want, where you want, and work at a pace that suits your lifestyle.

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

Potential career outcomes

  • Veterinary Nurse
Course number E1160
Qualification name Veterinary Nursing Pathway
Course duration Maximum 36 months
Delivery Method Online with Work Placement
Recognition Nationally Recognised Nationally Recognised Training
Assessments Attendance report, Case studies, Interviews, Logbook, Reports, Research projects, Short-answer questions, Workplace portfolio
Awarded by
  • TAFE NSW North Region (Provider number: 90010)


There are no formal education entry requirements for this course.

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:

All users:

  • Microsoft Office 2010 or equivalent
  • Broadband internet connection
  • 2GB of RAM
  • CD-ROM or DVD drive
  • Adobe Reader XI or equivalent
  • Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher.
  • Access to printer and associated software
  • Access to scanner and associated software
  • Digital imaging software
  • File compression software.

Windows users:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 or higher (Windows 8 recommended)
  • 1 Ghz or faster processer (2GHz recommended)

Mac OS users:

  • Mac OSX v10.5 or higher (Mac OSX v10.6 recommended)
  • 1 Ghz or faster processer (2GHz 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.

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.

After completing the first three modules, you'll be awarded a Certificate II in Animal Studies. You'll then receive access to the modules for the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.

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. Students studying through Open Colleges are not subject to TAFE NSW grading criteria, receiving an ungraded outcome for Units of Competency and Qualifications successfully completed.

Introduction to the animal care industry

  • Plan and prepare to work safely
  • Conduct work safely
  • Participate in OHS consultative activities
  • Follow emergency response procedures
  • 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 prepare to work safely
  • Conduct work safely
  • Participate in OHS consultative activities
  • Follow emergency response procedures
  • Identify current resource use
  • Comply with environmental regulations
  • Seek opportunities to improve resource efficiency and reduce environmental hazards

Care for animals

  • Prepare for feeding
  • Feed and water animals
  • Complete the feeding and watering process
  • Confirm workplace animal care routine schedules
  • Check animals
  • Maintain a clean workplace
  • Complete hygiene practices for animals
  • Complete post-hygiene care of animals
  • Identify commonly available dogs
  • Identify and evaluate behavioural and housing needs
  • Handle and restrain dogs
  • Assist with health care needs
  • Feed dogs
  • Maintain records
  • Assist in capture of animals
  • Assist in assessment of animals
  • Assist in treatment of animals

Client and customer support

  • Assess the situation
  • Assist in assessment of animals
  • Complete reception services
  • Maintain office records
  • Provide basic animal care assistance
  • Maintain records
  • Identify information requirements
  • Provide information
  • 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

Introduction to the veterinary workplace

  • 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

  • Provide specific animal health advice 
  • Offer animal care product advice 
  • Advise on animal nutritional requirements 
  • Provide animal behaviour advice

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.

Start learning for less. Our payment options could help you make considerable savings on the cost of this course. 

Find out more

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 course contains a minimum of 500 hours of work placement

The Certificate II in Animal Studies requires a minimum of 80 hours in the workplace, while the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing requires a minimum of 420 hours in the workplace.

The workplace will need provide a range of services to various animal species. These could include boarding (long or short term), grooming, sales of animals and animal products.

The workplaces which would offer this could include: veterinary practices, boarding facilities, grooming parlours, pet stores, kennels and catteries, zoos and animal welfare facilities. Complete details of the requirements of the workplace are available in the Workplace Assessment Guide.

You will also need to take videos and photos in the workplace to submit as part of your portfolio.

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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