How Much Does a Veterinary Nurse Make? (With Job Duties)
Updated 26 January 2023
Veterinary nurses are an essential member of veterinary teams across the UK, supporting vets by caring for animals and assisting during assessments and surgery. The salary for a veterinary nurse in the UK varies depending on seniority and experience. If you're interested in working as a veterinary nurse, you may benefit from learning about the kind of salary you can expect. In this article, we answer the question 'How much does a veterinary nurse make?' and explore how you can progress in your career to reach higher salaries.
How much does a veterinary nurse make?
The average salary for a veterinary nurse in the UK is £23,899 per year. However, this figure varies slightly between regions in the UK. For example, bigger cities like London often have higher salaries for veterinary nurses. The amount you earn as a veterinary nurse also depends on your level of experience and your seniority. For instance, you're likely to earn more after a few years of experience or after gaining additional certifications or education.
How much does a vet nurse earn in different parts of the UK?
Salaries vary by region, usually with higher salaries paid in London and the surrounding areas and lower salaries paid elsewhere. This means that the UK's average veterinary nursing salary may seem a little high in Newcastle and a little low in London. Here are some of the highest-paying cities in the UK for veterinary nurses:
London: £25,449 per year
Manchester: £25,307 per year
Hull: £24,323 per year
Leicester: £24,205 per year
Liverpool: £24,195 per year
Bristol: £23,920 per year
Bolton: £23,433 per year
Edinburgh: £23,528 per year
Glasgow: £23,129 per year
Derby: £23,124 per year
Birmingham: £22,691 per year
Newcastle: £21,253 per year
While London veterinary nurses earn more than the average veterinary nurse in Newcastle, living costs are likely to be much higher in London, which means that these differences in salary may not always reflect higher levels of disposable income.
How much does a veterinary nurse make at different career stages?
Across all fields of veterinary nursing, the average salary varies depending on your experience and the level of responsibility you have. While salaries might be slightly higher in London or for those vet nurses working in laboratories, in all settings, your pay scales up as you gain more seniority. Here's how your salary might vary with different position levels:
Entry-level veterinary nurse roles
As an entry-level veterinary nurse, you might start out as an apprentice or by working in a similar entry-level role, such as a veterinary assistant, animal caretaker or animal technician. In the UK, the average salary for a veterinary assistant is £17,514 per year, while the average salary for an animal caretaker is £18,422 per year. Finally, the average salary for an animal technician in the UK is £18,460 per year.
In general, salaries for entry-level veterinary nurse roles are typically under £20,000 per year, but there are still many factors that affect your starting salary, including your location and your route to entry. For example, veterinary nurses coming from a university background and holding a degree in veterinary nursing may start with higher salaries than apprentice veterinary nurses training at work. You can boost your starting salary by taking the degree route, but this also means starting your career three to four years later.
Senior veterinary nurse roles
After many years of experience as a veterinary nurse, you could become a senior veterinary nurse and earn higher average salaries. Though Indeed doesn't provide specific data for this senior-level role, they do note that the average salary for senior veterinary technicians, a related role, is £50,699 per year. Senior veterinary nurses in labs and research roles likely earn more than senior vet nurses in clinics. Average salaries also continue to rise as your level of experience grows.
What does a veterinary nurse do?
Veterinary nurses provide support and assistance to lead vets in veterinary work. They work in clinics, surgeries, shelters, farms and laboratories, and they perform a wide range of duties, including:
holding animals while the vet checks them over
administering medication to animals
preparing animals for surgery
liaising with pet owners
monitoring animals' well-being
collecting blood samples
The best veterinary nurses are passionate about the health and well-being of animals and possess good collaboration and teamwork skills. As a veterinary nurse, you may have to work long hours and cover night shifts at times.
How can you become a vet nurse?
There are multiple routes into veterinary nursing, including degree and non-degree routes. Options include:
pursuing a university degree that's accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in veterinary nursing, which lasts three to four years
studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing at college
training on the job in a veterinary nursing advanced apprenticeship
The route that's best for you depends on your strengths and preferences. If you'd like to go to university and you have strong A-levels, a degree in veterinary nursing may give you the best start in your career. If you prefer to learn by doing, an apprenticeship can get you into work sooner and teach you everything you need to know for a successful career in veterinary nursing.
Read more: How To Become a Veterinary Nurse
What roles can veterinary nurses progress to?
From starting out as a new vet nurse in a clinic, vet nurses can go on to pursue a wide range of exciting careers. You could work to gain seniority and experience in vet clinics and become a senior veterinary nurse with management duties or specialise in a particular field of veterinary nursing, such as in pharmaceutical labs or wildlife parks. Career development options for veterinary nurses include:
training for veterinary practice management and supervision
specialising in veterinary nursing in farm animals, exotic animals or labs
studying to become a lecturer or researcher in veterinary nursing
By specialising in your chosen career path, you can increase your potential salary by offering skills and experience that most vet nurses don't have.
How to increase your salary as a veterinary nurse
You can increase your salary as a veterinary nurse by being proactive about your career development. Embrace opportunities to take on new responsibilities in the workplace, earn new skills and showcase why you deserve to earn a higher salary. Here are some specific steps you can follow:
1. Pursue further education
Veterinary nursing is a professional career that requires practitioners to have a great deal of academic knowledge and technical skills. By undergoing further courses and training in veterinary nursing, you can improve your technical knowledge while showing your dedication and commitment to employers. If you don't have a degree, you could pursue a degree in veterinary nursing accredited by the RCVS.
2. Ask for more responsibility at work
One of the fastest ways to improve your skill set and your veterinary nursing CV is to simply ask for more responsibility at work. Embrace every opportunity to learn something new, and make it clear to your employer that you want more responsibilities as you gain experience and confidence. Your employer likely values your enthusiasm. This, combined with successfully carrying out your increased responsibility, may help you earn a higher salary.
Related: How To Negotiate a Better Salary
3. Consider other specialisms of veterinary nursing
If you're working in a veterinary clinic or surgery, you could look into applying for roles in other specialisms. To secure a higher veterinary nurse wage, vet nurses could look into specialising in lab work. Veterinary nursing in laboratories and research tends to pay more, often because it requires a greater knowledge of animal anatomy. You could also undergo further training to pursue a career in teaching or lecturing.
4. Look for new opportunities
If you think your experience and your salary aren't in sync, you can always ask your current employer for a raise. As an experienced veterinary nurse, your role at work is vital, so most employers recognise the value you bring to your team. You can also look around for new positions in other clinics. Average salaries for these professionals often vary between different employers, so you may be able to find a new position that pays a higher salary.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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