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Veterinarian Assistant: Career Profile

Working as a veterinarian assistant requires no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Veterinarian assistants help veterinary staff members by performing the basic duties that keep the office moving, whether that's through administrative work or sterilizing equipment and administering medicine. While there's no education required, many assistants are encouraged to pursue certificate and diplomas in veterinary medicine programs.

Essential Information

Veterinarian assistants work alongside other members of a veterinary staff, performing routine but essential tasks on sick or injured animals. These individuals work in animal hospitals and clinics and require little or no academic preparation for the job. While completion of a formal education program is not required, those with some postsecondary training may have an advantage in securing employment.

Required Education None mandatory; certificate and diploma programs in veterinary medicine and technology are available; on-the-job training will be provided with employment
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers
Median Salary (2015)* $24,360 for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Veterinarian Assistants

Veterinarian assistants perform basic animal care duties and administrative work in veterinary offices and animal hospitals. These individuals might feed pets, disinfect cages, sterilize equipment and administer medications. Additionally, they could perform office tasks, such as scheduling appointments, checking in patients, documenting medical histories and ensuring the proper medical equipment is stocked, functioning and clean. Veterinarian assistants typically work under the supervision of veterinarians, technologists or technicians.

Salary Information

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers was $24,360. Aside from veterinary offices, veterinarian assistants were also employed at postsecondary institutions, research laboratories, social advocacy groups and government agencies. Veterinarian assistants with some of the highest wages worked in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware and California.

Job Outlook

Veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers were expected to experience a 9% job growth between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. This translates to roughly 6,600 additional positions, many of which will result from the need to treat an increasing number of pets.

Educational Requirements

There are no formal education requirements to become a veterinarian assistant. The U.S. Department of Labor's career database, O*NET OnLine, reported that 34% of veterinarian assistants had a high school diploma or its equivalent as of 2015. However, applicants with some college education could be more attractive to potential employers.

Individuals can receive education and training as veterinarian assistants by earning a certificate or diploma at a community college or vocational school. These programs can be completed in less then a year and typically combine classroom learning with hands-on training. Many programs require basic skills in core areas, such as reading and math, and some schools require students to obtain health insurance prior to starting the program.

The coursework covers topics in veterinary math, science and terminology as well as job-related procedures. A course in office management and clerical duties might also be required. Some programs include an internship, allowing students work in hospitals and clinics to gain experience working with animals. While in training, students could learn how to dress wounds, record patient information and prepare instruments for surgery.

Veterinary assistants are animal care professionals who help keep veterinary offices moving by performing administrative tasks or basic animal care. There's no formal education required but those interested can pursue certificate and associate's degree programs in veterinary science. Those who want to break into this career path will find a growing market.


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