Veterinary Assistant

How to Become a Veterinary Assistant
Veterinary Assistant Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of Veterinary Assistants
Veterinary Assistant Salary
Influential Professionals in the Veterinary Assistant Field
Leading Veterinary Assistant Organizations
Top Cities for Veterinary Assistant Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Veterinary Assistant

If you are thinking about becoming a veterinary assistant you should already be comfortable dealing with all types of animals, including exotics such as snakes, scared or aggressive pets and animals that are seriously injured.

Most veterinary assistants gain experience from on-the-job training, volunteer opportunities, or via veterinary assistant internet courses. Distant learning courses over the internet can lead to certifications, which provide an overview of the career, including: animal handling procedures, medical procedures, treatment techniques, business transactions and pharmacology. Training usually takes 6 months or less.

Inexperienced veterinary assistants may want to start out in a small clinic with hopes of participating in all areas of training. In larger settings, such as hospitals there is less opportunity for hands on training. After becoming a veterinary assistant one could choose to work at clinics, zoos, animal shelters and ranches or farms.

The demand for professional veterinary technicians will rise 26% by year 2012. Some common job titles are: Veterinary Assistant, Veterinary Technician, Groomer, Kennel Assistant, Animal Care Provider, Kennel Attendant, Kennel Technician, Veterinarian Assistant, Veterinary Surgery Technician and Kennel Worker.

What does a Veterinary Assistant do?

A veterinary assistant aids the veterinarian during an animal's standard visit to a clinic. The veterinary assistant performs many different functions, including taking the basic information about the problem, asking general questions and taking the animal's temperature. A veterinary assistant may also handle record keeping, invoicing and cleaning the examination room in between visits. Depending on the work environment, they may also perform other duties such as administering medication or preparing equipment. Some veterinary assistants may be allowed to prepare samples for laboratory examination under the supervision of veterinary or laboratory animal technologists or technicians, veterinarians, or scientist.

Veterinary Assistants may also monitor animals recovering from surgery, give anesthetics during surgery, provide emergency first aid to sick or injured animals, hold or restrain animals during veterinary procedures, fill medication prescriptions, perform routine laboratory test or diagnostics test such as x-rays, examine animals to check for behavior or symptoms that could indicate a hidden injury or an illness, assist veterinarians in examining animals, and perform many other tasks such as giving enemas and dealing with intravenous feeding, to name just two.

Working as a Veterinary Assistant can be an excellent way for those interested in becoming a veterinarian to gain experience and decide whether they want to become a veterinarian. Opportunities for advancement within a veterinary assistant career are slim to none, unless they choose to go back to school to pursue a career as a veterinary technician or a veterinarian. The Occupational Information Network projects the United States will need an additional 21,000 veterinary assistants between 2006 and 2016, a projected growth of 14% to 20%.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Veterinary Assistant?

If you are thinking about becoming a veterinary assistant, it helps to have active listening skills, reading comprehension, effective speaking, be able to teach others, be able to select learning strategies, time management, critical thinking, ability to use mathematics to solve problems, and be service oriented.

Veterinary assistants should also be dependable, cooperative, pay attention to detail, have high tolerance for stress, be honest and ethical, able to maintain self control, have concern for others, and willingness to take responsibilities and challenges. A veterinary assistant is usually of a realistic, social, and investigative nature.

Veterinary assistants usually need anywhere from a few months to 1 year of training with experienced employees.

How much does a Veterinary Assistant make?

Salaries for veterinary assistants usually range from $15,120 to $31,110 annually. The average salary is $22,180 annually. The top paying industries for veterinary assistants are pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, scientific research and development services, local government, general medical and surgical hospitals, colleges, universities, and professional schools (in descending order).

The top paying states for veterinary assistants are Massachusetts, District of Columbia, California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The top paying metropolitan areas for veterinary assistants are San Diego and Carlsbad, California ($32,980), Bethesda, Gaithersburg, and Frederick, Maryland ($32,630), Salinas, California ($32,350), Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy, Massachusetts ($32,330), and San Francisco, San Mateo, and Redwood City, California ($31,730).

While many Veterinary Assistants get on-the-job training, they start with a higher salary and more employment opportunities if they become certified.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Dr. R. L. Collinson of Mountain View, California, received the AVMA Award for distinguished contributions to the advancement of veterinary medical organizations. He is one of the founding directors of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and has served as its chair since 1998 (

Dr. James K. Payne of Tarpon Springs, Florida, received the AVMA Public Service Award for outstanding contributions to public health and regulatory veterinary medicine. He has assisted U.S. Congress with developing vital language used in the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 and the Wholesome Poultry Act of 1968. He was a founding member of the American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians. He is also a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has more than 76,000 members. AVMA is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as the accrediting body for the 28 schools of veterinary medicine in the United States. The AVMA educational standards of excellence are recognized worldwide as the "gold standard" in veterinarian education. Many foreign veterinarian schools use the AVMA as the model for their school curricula.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is the national foundation for veterinary medicine and animal health. It is designed to promote animal well-being and enhance medicine research efforts.

What are the top cities for Veterinary Assistant jobs?

Phoenix, Arizona is the top city for veterinary assistants looking to relocate. Orlando, Florida, Tucson, Arizona, and Houston, Texas are also great cities for veterinary assistant careers.

Metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of Veterinary Assistants are Kalamazoo and Portage, Missouri, College Station and Bryan, Texas, Ithaca, New York, Auburn and Opelika, Alabama, and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Other Careers of Interest

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Veterinary Technician
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