Animal Laboratory Attendant Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for animal laboratory attendants. Get the facts about job duties, education and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Animal Laboratory Attendant?

Animal laboratory attendants help with research by taking care of lab animals. This entry-level job requires strength, compassion and attention to detail in both the care of animals and adhering to research protocols. Animal laboratory attendants may be supervised by a scientist, veterinarian or veterinarian technologist. A typical day consists of observing the animals, feeding them and cleaning out cages. These professionals may occasionally need to exercise animals, help restrain them during procedures or assist in sample collection, such as drawing blood. The table below outlines key career information for animal laboratory attendants.

Education Required High school diploma or equivalent at minimum; relevant degree programs available
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Responsibilities Feeding laboratory animals, cleaning animal enclosures, assisting with tests, following procedures
Certification Voluntary certification through the American Association for Animal Laboratory Science
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9%
Median Salary (2015)* $24,360

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as an Animal Laboratory Attendant?

As an animal laboratory attendant, you'd be responsible for the maintenance and care of animals in a laboratory setting. Your duties would include cleaning cages, recording observations, delivering treatments and administering tests. The laboratory in which you work will have a strict set of guidelines for each research project, so you need to be able to adhere to the in-house rules in order to assure experimental success. You need to follow safety and health procedures to avoid contamination and injury. You could work with veterinarians in a research setting or in a biomedical laboratory.

What Education or Training Do I Need?

Although many animal lab attendants receive on-the-job training in entry-level positions, formal training programs are available. An associate's degree program in veterinary science can provide you with the knowledge and experience required to work in an animal lab. In a 2-year program, you'd study biology, animal care and laboratory techniques as well as participating in a supervised clinical experience. The American Veterinary Medical Association's Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities accredits veterinary technology programs (www.avma.org).

How Could I Advance My Career?

After some years of experience in laboratories, you may choose to seek professional certification. The American Association for Animal Laboratory Science offers three levels of certification for animal lab workers: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician, Laboratory Animal Technician and Laboratory Animal Technologist (www.aalas.org). After meeting education and experience requirements, you'll be eligible to take the certification exam.

What Salary Could I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2015 that veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers earned a median annual wage of $24,360 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that employment for this group is projected to increase 9%, which is faster than the pace as the overall economy in the decade from 2014 to 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Animal care and service workers are related jobs that require a high school diploma. These workers care for various kinds of animals. Daily tasks may include feeding, bathing or exercising the animals. Dental assistants and surgical technologists are also related positions, but require a postsecondary nondegree award. Dental assistants perform administrative and basic clinical duties, such as taking x-rays, in a dentist office. Surgical technologists prepare rooms and equipment for surgeries, and then assist surgeons during a procedure.

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