Whether you’re planning a first career or seeking a career change, veterinary nursing may be a wonderful choice if you love animals and people.
Licensed veterinary nurses are in high demand, with the number of openings nationally predicted to swell 16 percent by 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
What is a Veterinary Nurse?
Similar to nurses for human patients, veterinary nurses (formerly called veterinary technicians) are integral members of the veterinary health care team. Educated in the latest medical advances, they are skilled at working alongside veterinarians to diagnose, treat, and care for animals.
Responsibilities of a veterinary nurse are diverse, and may include:
- Client education
- Assist in surgery (monitor vital signs or “glove-in” as needed)
- Administer anesthesia
- Take patient histories
- Evaluate and clean teeth (dental prophylaxis)
- Collect samples
- Analyze laboratory specimens
- Wound care and bandaging
- X-ray imaging
- Physical therapy
- Animal nursing care
- Emergency first aid
- Preparation and administering of medications and vaccines
Empathetic, compassionate, and hard-working, veterinary nurses enable veterinary hospitals to offer a variety of services.
How to Prepare for a Career in Veterinary Nursing
A licensed veterinary nurse is sometimes referred to as a veterinary technician or technologist, depending on the degree.
There are a variety of two-year, three-year, and four-year veterinary nursing degree programs. Upon completion, the student earns an Associate of Applied Science degree (2 or 3-year program) or Bachelor of Science degree (4-year program). Students attending in-person programs can usually work part-time while attending college.
Accredited In-Person Programs in Washington
- Bellingham Technical College
- Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
- Pima Medical Institute in Renton (and Seattle)
- Yakima Valley College
In addition to in-person programs, one might consider one of several online veterinary nursing education programs instead. The online programs provide more schedule flexibility and allow students to complete the program at their own pace. Online programs are not for all personal learning styles, but cost approximately half the cost of an in-person program and allow for part-time or full-time employment while attending school.
Accredited Online Programs
Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for a state-by-state list of accredited online programs.
Obtaining an Entry-Level Position as a Licensed Veterinary Nurse
To obtain an entry-level position as a licensed veterinary nurse in Washington State, candidates need to:
- Graduate from an accredited veterinary nursing/technology program, including an externship
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
- Obtain a Washington veterinary technician license
For specific Washington certification and licensing requirements, visit the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors.