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What Are the Job Duties of a Vet Assistant?

Vet assistants work with veterinarians and vet technicians to make their jobs easier and to keep the office or animal hospital sanitary. Their job duties are varied and can be learned on-the-job or through college certificate or associate degree programs. Typically, vet assistants help restrain animals and provide general animal care.

Job Duties Overview

Typically, vet assistants have a lot of experience working with animals and taking care of things around the veterinarian's office, animal shelter, or animal hospital. Most of them receive on-the-job training, but many college programs offer certificate programs. Vet assistants perform regular responsibilities under the supervision of a veterinarian which include:

  • Sterilizing equipment including test tubes and beakers
  • Bathing, grooming, and clipping animals
  • Restraining and calming animals
  • Cleaning and disinfecting work and animal holding areas
  • Feeding, watering, and examining pets and other animals
  • Maintaining and cleaning kennels
  • Exercising animals

Important Facts About Vet Assistants

Key SkillsCommunication, detail-oriented, physical strength, empathy and dexterity
Required EducationHigh school diploma or equivalent
Similar OccupationsVeterinary technician, veterinarian, animal service worker
CertificationAvailable but not required; must pass exam to obtain

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Additional Responsibilities

Depending on where they work, assistants can have other responsibilities. They are another pair of hands in surgery or after surgery, assisting with equipment, administering anesthetics, or monitoring animal's status. According to O*Net Online, responsibilities that aren't necessarily conducted on a daily basis include:

  • Providing first aid to injured or sick animals
  • Filling medication prescriptions
  • Developing X-rays
  • Collecting blood, urine, and feces for laboratory tests

Salary and Employment

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) published in May 2018 that the average salary earned by veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers was $28,690. The employment of such assistants and caretakers is expected to grow at a much faster than average pace, projected by the BLS to be about 19% between 2016 and 2026.