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Veterinary Assistant Certification and Diploma Programs

Veterinary assistant certification programs provide students with the skills to develop competency in animal husbandry, health and welfare, and facility management. Students can also focus on a variety of specialized animal care area.

Essential Information

Veterinary assistants clean and maintain examination rooms, take animal vitals, administer wound care and assist with medical procedures. Oftentimes, veterinary assistants do not have formal education and learn their trade on the job. Those interested in gaining an educational background can enroll in a certificate program, which usually requires 24 credits for completion. Diploma and certification programs do not exist in this field. Courses offered in certificate programs include animal health terminology, handling techniques, animal anatomy and physiology and front office procedures.

  • Program Level in Veterinary Assistant: Certification
  • Program Length: 24 credits
  • Prerequisite: High school diploma or GED
  • Online Availability: Online programs are rare but available
  • Some Program Specializations: Animal health terminology and animal anatomy and physiology

Veterinary Assistant Certification

Veterinary assistant certification programs offer students experience working with animals through hands-on experiences. Applicants to a veterinary assistant certificate program generally need a high school diploma or GED. Students should be capable of lifting a larger size animal. Basic computer skills are also helpful. Students can use the animal care skills they have acquired in a variety of settings. Programs are occasionally offered online. However, many programs are offered on-site because lab work is an important component of veterinary assisting programs. A practicum may also be required. Courses often offered include:

  • Animal health vocabulary
  • Grooming basics
  • Methods of animal restraint
  • Animal nutrition
  • Veterinary pharmacology
  • Animal injury care

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As of 2014, veterinary assistants across the U.S. earned an annual median salary of $23,790, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Veterinary assistants work in animal shelters, clinics, grooming shops and kennels. From 2012 to 2020, the BLS anticipates a 14% rise in the employment of vet assistants, which is equivalent to the average for all other jobs.

Continuing Education

Individuals who have earned a veterinary assistant certificate can stay abreast of industry changes and relevant topics through various programs offered by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, www.navta.net. Additionally, individuals with an undergraduate certificate in veterinary assisting may decide to pursue a 2- or 4-year program in veterinary technology.

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