Public concerns over animal experimentation are becoming felt on both sides of the Atlantic, and a dangerous chasm is appearing between those who conduct such experiments and those who are opposed to them. This is a dangerous development, not only because a divided society loses efficiency, but the element of secrecy which it engenders can impede scientific progress and hinder the deployment of resources. It is my thesis that scientific investigations designed and carried out by competent personnel, better support animal welfare, are less likely to be flawed or lack rigour and are likely to be more acceptable to the general public. Competence is much more than the possession of manual skills or knowledge. Many of the qualities associated with competence will be acquired in the workplace rather than during formal training although the quality of the latter is paramount in establishing the correct personal development trajectory. This presentation addresses not only the characteristics and validation of that basic training, but the importance of continuing professional development, the need for ongoing guidance and the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to assessing the competence which an individual has attained. Application of a quality assurance scheme based on external standards and applied across a number of different establishments serves not only to facilitate free movement of personnel, whose qualifications can be recognised by other parties, but also provides reassurance that valid standards are being sought and attained and can act as an important motivator for those both delivering and receiving the experience, education and training that lead to competency. Learning objectives. 1. It is important to focus on competency rather than the delivery of education and training. 2. Impartial and objective validation of the assessment of competency is key to setting and maintaining appropriate standards.