Veterinary Assistant Schools Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Pennsylvania Due to the rising importance many families place on the health of their companion animals, the field of veterinary healthcare is expanding at a rapid pace in America. This is nowhere more evident then in the increasing demand for veterinary assistants to work in veterinary clinics, labs, and other establishments. For those interested in a veterinary career, becoming a veterinary assistant can be an excellent choice. Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Pennsylvania Veterinary assistants are not required to be professionally licensed in Pennsylvania. However, while an individual can become a veterinary assistant with only a high school diploma, most businesses prefer to hire veterinary assistants who have received training in how to be an effective assistant. There are a number of schools in Pennsylvania that offer comprehensive programs that cover all aspects of a veterinary assistants duties, allowing successful graduates to enjoy a higher probability of quickly obtaining a job. Veterinary Assistant Programs Most veterinary assistant programs take approximately one year and confer a certificate of graduation upon the completion of the course. They cover a wide variety of subjects including the following items: Office procedures and record keeping in the veterinary office. General examination protocols and procedures. Safe animal restraint procedures. Procedures for storing and labeling drugs and samples. Operating room procedures and support. General clinical sterilization procedures to prevent the spread of infection. General procedures for handling animals, including common and exotic pets. Veterinary assistant programs may include traditional classes, online classes or a combination of the two. In some cases, the student may not be required to physically attend class at all, which can be helpful for students who are currently working and thus are unable to attend a conventional program. Veterinary Assistants and Pennsylvania Law There are a variety of restrictions on what services a veterinary assistant can offer. Students attending a program in another state should be certain to ensure that they understand what services they are allowed to provide in Pennsylvania. In general, any form of direct veterinary care, such as surgical procedures or independently administering drugs to an animal is restricted to veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Veterinary Assistant Externships Some veterinary assistant programs also offer their students the opportunity to take part in a veterinary assistant externship. These are short-term working relationships with actual veterinary clinics, allowing the student to gain experience before their graduation. In most cases, these externships can help the veterinary assistant obtain employment after his or her graduation from the program. Accredited Veterinary Assistant Programs While there currently no requirement for the accreditation of veterinary assistant programs, there are a number of voluntary programs that some schools will use. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) currently offers a voluntary approval process that provides guidelines for those programs that wish to provide a high quality education to their student. In some states, state veterinary associations may provide the same service. By attending a program that has been professionally recognized, the student can improve his or her chances to quickly obtain a job as a veterinary assistant. 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Currently the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are over 73,000 veterinary assistants currently working in America and that the job outlook shows growth in this field through 2020. Furthermore, the median wage for Pennsylvania veterinary assistants is currently over $26,000, which is above the national median wage for veterinary assistants. Finally, due to the demand for new veterinary assistants and attrition in the field due to retirements of current veterinary assistants, employment and advancement prospects remain favorable in comparison to other fields with similar educational requirements. For those individuals interested in providing high quality care to America’s beloved companion animals, this field offers excellent advancement and job security prospects. Whether for new high school graduates entering the job market for the first time or for older individuals seeking to transition to a more rewarding field, becoming a veterinary assistant can be an excellent choice.