Becoming a veterinary assistant can be an excellent decision for those who wish to become part of America’s veterinary care sector.
The importance many families place upon obtaining the best possible care for their beloved companion animals, coupled with the increased focus on livestock and production animal health, has resulted in robust and growing career opportunities for veterinary assistants.
Florida is an especially attractive state for those seeking employment as a veterinary assistant. With a dynamic mixture of working families, retired individuals and a variety of commercial farming and livestock activities, Florida has a wide range of job opportunities for qualified veterinary assistants.
Veterinary Assistants in Florida
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that Florida has over 3,400 veterinary assistants currently working in the state. However, the BLS expects this number to increase by at least 14 percent between 2010 and 2020.
When the attrition in the field from retiring veterinary assistants is considered, it is certain that there will be a growing number of career openings for new veterinary assistants. This can be especially helpful for individuals who have not yet graduated from high school, as these employment trends make it easier for students to plan to immediately enter the job force as a veterinary assistant.
Becoming a Veterinary Assistant
Veterinary assistants are not required to be certified or licensed by the state. The only requirement to become a veterinary assistant is for the individual to have graduated from high school or possess an equivalent degree. The veterinarian and vet techs at the clinic will provide on the job training for those veterinary assistants who were hired without any formal training.
However, many veterinary clinics prefer to have veterinary assistants who have obtained formal training from a veterinary assistant program. This allows the assistant to start work immediately, without forcing the veterinarian and vet techs to take time out of their schedules in order to train him or her. Some clinics or organizations that employ veterinary assistants may refuse to consider any individual who has not completed a veterinary assistant program.
Veterinary Assistant Programs
There are a number of schools in Florida that offer veterinary assistant programs. These programs assist the student in learning how to be an effective veterinary assistant and include a variety of classroom and hands on training. In most cases, these programs take less than a year for a full-time student to complete.
In addition, most veterinary assistant programs also have part-time programs for those students who cannot attend class on a regular schedule. This can be especially useful for students who are currently working or who have other obligations. Finally, some programs allow some or all of the coursework to be completed via the Internet, permitting the student to work at his or her own pace.
In many cases, a veterinary assistant program will also require that the students complete an externship. This is a short-term work program that allows the students to work under the supervision of experienced vet techs and veterinarians in a veterinary practice. Usually, these externships will include class sessions where the students’ work will be examined and evaluated by their instructors. By taking part in an externship, the students can obtain valuable experience that will be useful once they are employed as vet techs.
Certified Florida Veterinary Assistants
Finally, the Florida Veterinary Medical Association (FVMA) has developed a program to help veterinary assistants become certified in the state. While this is not required in order to obtain employment, the FVMA has developed a certification program that verifies that the veterinary assistant has obtained a high degree of proficiency in the veterinary field. Due to the FVMA’s standing in Florida, vet assistants who obtain this certification may enjoy greatly enhanced employment and salary options.
Becoming a veterinary assistant is an excellent choice, both for newly graduated adults who are entering the job market for the first time and for currently employed individuals who are seeking out a more personally and financially rewarding career.
The veterinary assistant is a vital component of the process of providing high quality care to pets, livestock and production animals, and as such is valued by his or her fellow veterinary professionals. Finally, the vet assistant can enjoy the knowledge that he or she is helping care for Florida’s treasured companion animals, making this job a deeply rewarding one.
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