Diploma in Veterinarian Assisting: Program Overview

While diploma programs in veterinarian assisting are not common, certificate programs train individuals to assist veterinarians in office settings and help with animal handling. Students learn about topics ranging from proper animal restraint techniques to general office procedures.

Essential Information

Those interested in veterinarian assisting can find the certificate program at community colleges, vocational schools, or accredited online training schools. In addition to a high school education, some admission requirements include completing prerequisite classes such as anatomy, basic math and computer fundamentals before proceeding with the veterinarian assisting curriculum. Some programs are offered online. Once completed,in usually one year or less, graduates are eligible to take a national certification exam.

Certificate Program in Veterinary Assisting

Although a certificate program in veterinary assisting provides entry-level employment opportunities, the curriculum only allows graduates to work with animals in a limited capacity. However, students must have an understanding of routine procedures they participate in and the animals they aid. Therefore, common courses found in the program include:

  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Veterinary ethics
  • Pharmacology
  • Veterinary medical terminology
  • Surgery assisting
  • General anesthesia

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a job growth of 9% for veterinarian assistants and caretakers of laboratory animals (www.bls.gov) between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported the median salary in these professions was $24,360, with the bottom 10% earning $18,060 a year or less, while the top 10% earned $36,690 or more. The BLS also stated the highest paying states for these occupations were the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island. The states with the highest employment of veterinarian assistants and caretakers of lab animals were California, Texas, Virginia, New York and Florida.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification

Graduates of veterinarian assisting programs may earn certification by passing the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America's (NAVTA) credentialing exam, which provides the designation of Approved Veterinary Assistant. NAVTA also coordinates continuing education courses for veterinary assistants and technicians.

A certificate program in veterinary assisting, rather than a diploma, provides students with the knowledge and skills to work as an veterinarian assistant. Graduates should be prepared to pursue certification, which could be a spring board to more advanced positions.

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