A compassionate and supportive career

Having a job as an animal care assistant is an enriching experience. You’ll provide support to animals, clients and the rest of your veterinary team. In addition to performing a high level of supportive nursing care, veterinary care assistants also learn and develop the skills required to educate owners on maintaining their pets’ health.
VCAs will also learn technical skills enabling the undertaking of a range of basic diagnostic tests, and supportive care procedures for the patient. Once qualified, VCAs are able to use their qualification to progress onto the Veterinary Nursing qualification, or continue to work as a valuable VCA in practice.

What does an animal care assistant do?

An animal care assistant job description can vary. There are even several names for the role including veterinary care assistant, patient care assistant and animal care assistant. The specific duties this role can involve vary depending on the practice or hospital, but generally speaking they are responsible for looking after animals in the care of the practice. This can include ensuring they are comfortable and clean, taking them out for exercise, as well as supporting vet and nurses in handling animals during consults or prior to surgeries. They will support the rest of the veterinary team, perhaps helping in the running of diagnostic tests, speaking to owners, and other duties that support the running of the practice or hospital. Their main role is to keep the animals in their care as happy and comfortable as they can.

Get started in your veterinary career

If you’re interested in entering into a career as a VCA, one of the first things you can do is start to build up a CV of animal-related work experience.

To find out a bit more about how to get started on a career in veterinary nursing, please have a look at the BVNA website as it has some excellent information on VCA training. You can also read about the experiences of our vets and nurses on our blog.

Gaining relevant qualifications

Finding an animal care assistant job may not require relevant qualifications if you have enough relevant experience, but these are also a good way to develop skills and knowledge that will help you start your career in the veterinary industry.

If you’re looking for a veterinary assistant course or to find a way of becoming a veterinary care assistant,  vet assistant courses are normally taught at further education colleges and private veterinary nurse training providers throughout the country. Some of these places may offer the opportunity to study veterinary assistant courses online. To apply for VCA courses, you normally won’t need any formal qualifications. If you undertake the course as an apprentice, then you will need to be employed in practice for 30 hours a week or more.

 The VCA qualification can be accessed as an apprenticeship or as a Level 2 Diploma, and via day release or block release. Once you have achieved your VCA qualification, plus a Maths and English GCSE at grade A*-C, you can apply for the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.

A list of training providers can be found on the RCVS website:

British Veterinary Nursing AssociationRCVS Information for Veterinary NursingVeterinary Nursing Training Providers (FE), British Veterinary Nursing AssociationRCVS Information for Veterinary NursingVeterinary Nursing Training Providers (FE), Veterinary Nursing Training Providers (HE), Training Practices in your area