Veterinary Assistant Advancement Opportunities

Jan 02, 2019

Career Growth Opportunities for Veterinary Assistants

A position as a veterinary assistant is an outstanding introduction to the field of animal care. Requiring a high school diploma, veterinary assistants work with animals by feeding and caring for animals, cleaning cages, and monitoring the animals' well-being. After spending time in this position, veterinary assistants may choose to seek further education in order to grow their career prospects in the animal field. Some opportunities are presented below.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education
Veterinary Technician $33,400 (2017; for veterinary technologists and technicians)* 20% (for veterinary technologists and technicians) Associate's degree
Veterinarian $90,420 (2017)* 19% Doctoral degree
Veterinary Practice Manager $46,093 (2018)** 20% (for all medical and health services managers) Bachelor's degree
Zoologist $62,290 (2017)* 8% Bachelor's degree

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **

Career Information

Veterinary Technician

Veterinary assistants enjoy working closely with animals. One opportunity for advancement would be to become a veterinary technician. Vet techs work closely with veterinarians. They might provide emergency first aid care, give animals medications, and help get animals ready for surgery. Veterinary technicians need an associate's degree from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA). Most states also require vet techs to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination.


Veterinary assistants who are interested in pursuing an extensive level of education may wish to become a veterinarian. Veterinarians examine, diagnose, and treat animals, as well as administer medications and offer vaccinations. They also help pet owners care for their animals by educating the owners on animal care. Many veterinarians specialize in treating pets, however others may work with farm animals or exotic species. Other veterinarians may specialize in research. To become a veterinarian, one must first earn a bachelor's degree with specific science courses and then complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program. Candidates must then pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam to secure the state licensure that is required to work as a veterinarian in the U.S.; many states also require you to also pass a state-specific exam.

Veterinary Practice Manager

Some veterinary assistants may wish to work in a different role in a veterinary office. They might consider a position as a veterinary practice manager. These managers are responsible for the administrative activities of the office, including scheduling and training. They work directly with customers to ensure their satisfaction with the practice and are responsible for billing and other financial considerations. Veterinary practice managers typically have a bachelor's degree in a business-related area. Employment prospects can be enhanced by earning the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager certification through the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association.


Some veterinary assistants love to study and learn more about animals. These individuals may consider advancing to a career as a zoologist. Zoologists are responsible for designing and conducting experiments with animals in a natural setting. They may collect animal specimens or monitor the population of wildlife. Zoologists may also work to reduce harm to humans and native species from invasive animal species. They often specialize in one species. Zoologists must be comfortable presenting their research in written and oral form. Zoologists are required to possess at least a bachelor's degree, and a master's or doctoral degree is required for many research-related positions in this field.

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