Veterinary Assistant Jobs

The modern veterinary care sector is a quickly growing field. Due to this, veterinary assistants are more important than ever, providing vital support for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and the animals under their care.

In addition, due to the nature of the veterinary assistant career, it is an ideal choice for individuals seeking to quickly enter the veterinary care field, either as a permanent veterinary assistant, or as a gateway to other veterinary careers.

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The Duties of a Veterinary Assistant

veterinary technicianIn general, veterinary assistants do not provide independent veterinary care, but rather work under the direct supervision of vet techs and veterinarians.

Veterinary assistants focus on providing the support needed to ensure that vet techs and veterinarians can effectively carry out their duties.

Most states forbid veterinary assistants from providing any type of independent medical treatment to animals under their supervision.

The most common duties of a veterinary assistant include the following:

  • Feed and water all animals under their care. This includes ensuring that any special dietary instructions on the party of the veterinarian are carried out.
  • Observe the animals and report any unusual behaviors or evidence of illness to the veterinarian or vet tech.
  • Ensure that the veterinary clinic is maintained in a clean and sterile condition at all times.
  • Regularly clean all animal enclosures, including the replacement of bedding and litter with clean material.
  • Assist in the sterilization of veterinary equipment, including test and surgical tools.
  • Under the direction of the veterinarian, provide postoperative care in order to ensure that the animal remains comfortable.
  • Under the direction of veterinary professionals, administer various types of oral and topical medication to animals under the clinic’s care.

Becoming a Veterinary Assistant

Veterinary assistants are not a certificated or licensed veterinary profession. This means that unlike vet techs and veterinarians they do not need to complete any state mandated course of study in order to be employed as a veterinary assistant. In most cases, their training is largely handled by the veterinarian and other professionals at the clinic or practice where they have been hired.

Veterinary Assistant Programs

However, there are a number of programs that offer training for prospective veterinary assistants. In most cases, these programs take approximately one year, depending on the student’s schedule. Students who complete the program are usually provided with a certificate of completion. Some programs allow students to attend classes on a part-time basis. Some classes may be taken online, allowing students to complete the program at their own pace.

Although there is no national accreditation process for veterinary assistant programs, many of these programs are respected by local veterinary clinics. In some cases, veterinary assistant programs may include provisions for students to work as volunteers or interns at a clinic, obtaining hands-on experience in the veterinary assistant field.

Successfully completing a veterinary assistant program can make finding employment far easier. Without the need to provide all the training, a vet can be confident that a successful graduate can immediately begin work at the clinic. This can also result in improved salary and advancement options for the veterinary assistant.

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Veterinary Assistants and Other Careers

Becoming a veterinary assistant can also serve as a gateway to more advanced veterinary professions. Veterinary assistants work in close proximity with veterinarians and vet techs, gaining a first hand view of the duties and knowledge required to enter those professions.

In addition, the experience a veterinary assistant obtains can benefit them when working to complete a vet tech or veterinary program. Finally, many programs require letters of recommendation, which a veterinary assistant can obtain from his or her supervisors.

Job Opportunities for Veterinary Assistants

There are a wide range of career opportunities for veterinary assistants. In addition to urban and rural veterinary clinics, veterinary assistants can find employment in a number of private and government fields.

Among the more common employment opportunities are the following:

  • State and local animal shelter and humane societies.
  • Pet care and breeding organizations.
  • Zoos often employ veterinary assistants. However, in some cases they may require extra training or qualifications on the part of prospective employees.
  • Wildlife management programs.
  • Research institutions employ a large number of veterinary assistants to care for animals in a clinical environment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently estimates that there are over 73,000 veterinary assistants employed in the United States.

Furthermore, the rate of increase from 2010-2020 is estimated to be about 14 percent, which will add over 10,000 jobs to the field by 2020.

The BLS also estimates that the median annual salary for veterinary assistants is over $22,000. Many veterinary assistants are paid on an hourly basis and may increase their actual wage earnings via overtime.

Becoming a veterinary assistant is an excellent career choice for those who are seeking to enter the animal care sector. With a wide range of career options, and a high demand for new veterinary assistants, this field will continue to be a wise choice for those seeking a rewarding and secure career.

Veterinary Assistant Jobs from Indeed

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