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Vet Assistant

Education and Training: Associate’s
Average Salary: $28,900
Job Outlook: Very good

A veterinary assistant may also be known as a veterinary technician. These individuals work under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian, and they can work in environments like private vet practices or veterinary hospitals. Some even work full-time for zoos and similar facilities that employ their own veterinarians.

A vet assistant does much of the routine clinical work for animals in a veterinary situation. They may do things like taking blood samples and running certain diagnostic tests, and they may also examine pets’ histories and provide diagnostic tests like x-rays. Vet assistants may also perform some of the basic maintenance required at smaller veterinary practices, including cleaning out cages and maintaining records.

Some veterinarian assistants actually work in research situations and are responsible for caring for animals that are undergoing scientific research experiments. In this case, they may be responsible for maintaining records on the health of animals that are undergoing experimentation.

Education and Training Requirements

Veterinarian assistants who are veterinary technicians need to complete a two-year associate’s degree. Those with the higher title of veterinary technologist are required to complete a four-year bachelor’s program. Accreditation for these positions comes from the American Veterinary Medical Association, and individual states require different types of licensing. Most states, however, require that veterinary assistants pass some sort of test to ensure they have enough knowledge to properly complete their jobs.

Getting the Job

A veterinary assistant may be able to find employment straight out of college, though those with actual experience working with animals will find better opportunities. Future vet assistants would do well to intern or volunteer in vet’s offices or other animal-related situations during school in order to increase their odds of getting a job. Those who wish to work for aquariums or zoos may need to gain experience in a vet office or hospital first, as competition for these jobs is keenest.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

As pet owners demand better care for their animals and animal research carries on throughout the country, job prospects for these vet assistant jobs will be excellent. Because there are only a few veterinary technician programs and just 160 veterinary technology programs in the country today, a limited number of graduates means that most graduates will find a job easily. However, jobs at aquariums and zoos are in the highest demand, so they’ll be the most difficult to find.

Vet assistants can develop their careers by working in larger facilities where they can take on more responsibility. Many take on administrative tasks or simply move into coveted jobs at aquariums or zoos in order to advance their careers.

Working Conditions and Environment

Some vet assistants are actually on call around the clock, which can make hours irregular and this job rather stressful. In fact, in some facilities, the veterinary assistant may be required to live on site in order to provide around the clock care to valuable animals or those who are part of research projects. The jobs of vet assistants can sometimes be unpleasant or emotional, and they may even be somewhat dangerous when working with larger or more aggressive animals.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a vet assistant with a veterinary technician degree is about $30,000 per year, though they can make anywhere from $23,000 per year to over $41,000 per year. Those with veterinary technologist degrees, which are more advanced, usually earn more. These full time jobs typically come with benefits, though the available benefits will vary by employer.

Where to Go for More Information
For more information on vet assistant jobs, check out the following resources:

American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
9190 Crestwyn Hills Dr.
Memphis, TN 38125
(901) 754-8620

American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N Meacham Rd., Ste. 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(800) 248-2862

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
1666 K St. NW, Ste. 260
Washington, DC 20006
(888) 996-2882

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