What Training Is Required for Veterinary Assistants?

Training required to become a veterinary assistant varies by employer. Some employers require formal training, while others train their veterinary assistants on-the-job. Explore your training options here, and find out what you'd learn as a veterinary assistant trainee. Schools offering Veterinary Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Training & Education Overview

Most veterinary assistants and other people working with animals have at least a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Students interested in becoming veterinary assistants also need critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Average Salary (2018) $27,540
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 19% growth in employment
Work Environment Work can be physically demanding when working with aggressive and frightened animals; emotionally demanding when working with abused animals or euthanizing sick animals. Higher than average rate of injury and illness; may work evenings, weekends, holidays
Similar Occupations Veterinarians, veterinary technicians and technologists, animal care and service workers, dental assistants, medical assistants, surgical technologists

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

On-the-Job Training

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, many veterinary assistants receive training on the job, although some employers may prefer applicants who have already received formal training. During on-the-job training, employees are taught everything they need to know to do their job effectively. In addition to the right way to answer phones, they learn specific responsibilities in regards to how to properly care for the animals, including:

  • Deciding how to restrain animals
  • Administering medication and immunizations
  • Collecting blood, urine, and tissue samples
  • Monitoring animals after medical procedures

Formal Education

Even for veterinary assistants who don't want to eventually become veterinary technicians or veterinarians, formal college courses can be useful. Many community colleges offer certificates and training programs for veterinary assistants, and veterinary assistants can also complete training approved by the National Associations of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) in order to become certified as an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA). Likewise, the American Humane Association (www.americanhumane.org) offers programs to prepare students to provide animals with safe and humane treatment. Programs include:

  • Basic animal emergency services
  • Disaster sheltering for companion animals
  • Managing compassion stress (primarily for Euthanasia Technicians, but open to non-ETs)

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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