How to Become a Veterinary Assistant?

Veterinary assistant programs are relatively easy to get enrolled into because there are no strict education requirements. A diploma from high school is not always required and every institution can decide the criteria for admission.

Across the United States you can begin to become a veterinary assistant by attending courses provided by community colleges, training centers, vocational schools and technical institutes. In addition,online veterinary assistant programs are becoming more popular. Each program is designed by the institution and the curriculum may vary. However, the main concepts that are being taught are similar between institutions and will provide the necessary training to become a skilled veterinary assistant.veterinary assistant helping the vet I Love veterinary

Online programs are the best and fastest way to complete your veterinary assistant certificate. If you decide to take an online course you will most likely receive certification in six months. 

What do the online veterinary programs include?

Some of the courses provided by the certified programs include:

  • handling and assisting animals
  • animal terminology
  • anatomy
  • animal nursing
  • physiology
  • diagnostic imaging

The hands-on experience is just as important as the theoretical part, therefore the students often have laboratory work during their studies. At The end of the program, the students explore the fields of surgical patient procedures and learn about pharmacology, aseptic techniques, anesthesia and surgical assisting. Through this, future veterinary assistants will learn how to properly prepare an animal for surgery and correctly measure the vital statistics of an animal.veterinary assistant writing down something I love veterinary

Programs through training-on-the-job, externship, and internship are available as well. One can get a certificate for veterinary assistant through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). NAVTA offers a couple of veterinary assistant programs and has an approved program distinction issued for about 35 other programs in the United States. This type of certification (Approved Veterinary Assistant) is recognized everywhere in the United States.

The main difference between veterinary assistant programs and the rest of the veterinary realm is that the assistant program is a certificate program and not a degree program.

What does a veterinary assistant do?

Veterinary assistants make the jobs of veterinary technicians and veterinarians a lot easier and that’s why they represent a valuable part of the veterinary healthcare team.veterinary assistant holding a dog I Love Veterinary

A veterinary assistant is someone who spends most of the time helping animals in need. They help check patients in, assist in checking vitals, prepare prescriptions, restrain animals, and so much more. They also have an opportunity to begin building a more challenging veterinary career with the possibility of pursuing more school in the future. 

More on the Veterinary Assistant Job:

Veterinary assistants can find their place in helping around the clinic in many ways. First of all, they have  face to face contact with clients. Upon arrival, they greet the clients, make follow-up calls and schedule appointments. They control the inventory and continuously update medical records of patients.

On the more medical aspect, veterinary assistants prepare the examination and operating room and sanitize the necessary equipment for everyday work at the clinic.. They can be involved in the process and are trained to properly administer medication, calm animals, safely and properly restrain them and guarantee the safety of working personnel and the animals. 

To conclude,  an assistant is the person responsible for the wellness of the hospitalized animal. veterinary staff at the vet clinic I Love Veterinary

Characteristics of a great vet assistant

Except for loving animals, veterinary assistants need to be physically endurable, especially when restraining strong animals. They also need to be patient, mature and emotionally stable, especially when encountering animals that have been abused or dealing with a client who has to put their beloved animal down. Clients usually interact with the veterinary assistants first, therefore a good assistant has to know how to calm emotional owners. You can read more about the Characteristics of a Successful Veterinarian

How much is the average veterinary assistant salary in the USA?

According to the USBLR (United States Board of Labor Statistics), the average annual vet assistant salary in the USA is about $24.300. However, the average differs significantly between states. In some states, the potential for earning money as a vet assistant increases a lot more rather than other states.

A professional can be able to earn up to $38.000 per year in 13 states in America, and even more than $40.000 in the ones on the top of the ladder. New Haven is the Promised Land for veterinary assistants where the annual average vet assistant salary is $48.000. The dispersion of professionals is not equal in the United States. The highest density of workers is in California with an estimated number of around 10.000 employed veterinary assistants.veterinary assistant holding a cat I Love Veterinary

Other sources indicate that the annual salary for vet assistants was an approximate $29.000 in late 2016. Except for location and state, another factor is whether the assistant works in the  healthcare industry or government agencies. It can also include work in pet shops with in-house clinics, some research facilities, shelters and animal rescue facilities.

Vet assistant salaries compared to other similar occupations are lower. For example, a veterinary assistant earns less than a medical assistant (around $2000 less annually) and about $7000-8000 less than veterinary technicians per year.veterinary assistant salary I Love Veterinary

As mentioned before, the profession has a significant rise in open working positions to the point that some states struggle to find enough certified and trained assistants to fill in the blanks. The average growth rate of veterinary assistant jobs places exceeds the average with a projected 13% expansion rate in the next seven years.

At the moment, there are around 80.000 vet assistant professionals across the United States.

Certification, licensing and registration

In order to maintain and promote high standards of health care of animals, all of the states in the country require a professional license by all veterinary assistants. You can get a professional license by passing an oral and written examination process. At times there is a practical test. With the practical examination, a veterinary assistant proves that he/she is physically able to work in an animal environment and perform daily duties successfully. After passing the exam you get licensed, certified or registered.certification I Love Veterinary

Veterinary Assistant in Vet Clinic Performing Dog Clipping

To obtain a license, registration, or certificate it depends on what state you are in. In one state you are a certified veterinary assistant and in another you could be registered, but the requirements remain the same..

Advancement in a vet assistant career

Becoming a veterinary assistant is the easiest way to enter the world of veterinary medicine. The hierarchy inside a clinic puts veterinary assistants on the lowest scale, but that doesn’t mean that veterinary assistants aren’t cherished for what they do and for the help they provide.

how to become a vet assistant I Love Veterinary

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This is because of the educational requirements, since veterinary assistants only need certification by taking a course which can last for as little as 6 months.

But the veterinary assistant position allows opportunity and options for career advancement in the future.

A veterinary assistant can advance in his/her career with continuous education or certification in the future. You can make a decision to restart your education and become a veterinary technician by completing an associate’s degree.

If you are interested in different veterinary professions, read the article with personal touch by Nicole LaForest – Becoming a veterinary technician.