What Are Some Career Options for Veterinary Assistants?

Veterinary assistants can work in a multitude of animal-care settings. They work hand in hand with licensed veterinarians. Entry-level positions can be obtained with a high school diploma or equivalent. There are also opportunities for on-the-job-training. Schools offering Veterinary Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Veterinary assistants are not necessarily required to complete formal education programs. Instead, some receive on-the-job training. These veterinary personnel work with licensed veterinarians and generally handle office tasks and offer assistance where needed. Veterinary assistants have multiple career options and can work in several animal-care settings. Read on for more information.

Important Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities for Veterinary Assistants

Tools Animal clippers and razors, x-ray equipment, injection syringes, urine analysis equipment
Technology Microsoft Office Suite, label making software, e-mail software, medical software
Skills Monitoring, active learning, service orientation
Abilities Problem sensitivity, deductive reasoning, oral comprehension
Knowledge Customer service, biology, mathematics

Career Options

Animal Shelter or Kennel Workers

Some veterinary assistants work in kennels or animal shelters, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They provide animals with clean living areas and make animals presentable when people come to see or pick them up. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Feeding animals
  • Grooming and bathing animals
  • Walking animals
  • Cleaning the kennels
  • Administering medication
  • Playing with the animals

Laboratory Assistants

Some veterinarians conduct research to find health solutions for animals and people, according to the BLS. They need veterinary assistants to note observations and prepare experiments. This position might require a veterinary assisting certificate.

Other Positions

Veterinary assistants can choose from closely related careers, too, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Additional career options for these workers could include:

  • Working in zoos
  • Training animals
  • Grooming

Potential Work Environments

Veterinary Offices

Veterinary assistants usually work in veterinary offices. For some, this is an opportunity to gain experience as they work toward becoming a veterinarian or a veterinary technician. These workers perform various administrative duties and generally assist with animals. Some specific duties according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) include:

  • Restraining animals
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Testing blood, urine and feces
  • Providing first aid
  • Answering phones

Animal Hospitals

Veterinary assistants also work in animal hospitals where they might prepare animals for surgery and give injections. They also determine which cases are the most severe. Like veterinary assistants who work in offices, they're often trained on the job. Earning a relevant certificate from a community college could open doors to more opportunities.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Per the BLS, the median salary among veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers was $27,540 as of May 2018. Employment openings for these professionals were expected to increase 19% from 2016-2026, which is faster than the national average for all job sectors.

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