Through classroom lectures, students in a veterinary assistant certificate or associate's degree program learn about anatomy, drug names, dental care, x-ray equipment and positioning, medical terminology and basic animal care. In addition to classroom assignments, training is also provided in laboratories and through an internship program at a local veterinary clinic. Many curricula include concentrations in different specialties of animal care, including small animal or large animal assisting, food, exotic and companion animals and equine care.
Certificate in Veterinary Assistance
Students enrolled in a veterinary assistant certificate program take courses in computers and veterinary science. Topics in the veterinary assistant program range from office duties to specific medical training. Typical courses may include:
- Veterinary math
- Veterinary nutrition
- Lab sciences
- Introduction to radiology
- Parasites in small animals
- Mycology, virology and microbiology
Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology Systems - Veterinary Assistant Option
The veterinary technology - veterinary assistant curriculum covers basic animal care techniques and diseases, as well as management of animals. Students may also become familiar with hospital and office procedures used by veterinarians. Courses may include:
- Introduction to animal science
- Farm internship
- Equine internship
- Facility Management
- Radiation safety
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of a veterinary assistant program may find employment in zoos, animal shelters, veterinary hospitals, humane societies and animal parks. These assistants spend most of their time in the veterinary office or hospital supporting the front desk in addition to grooming and feeding animals, giving medication, cleaning cages and sterilizing surgical and laboratory equipment.
As more and more individuals become pet owners, jobs for veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers are expected to increase 16% from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported in 2020 that veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers made median annual wages of $29,930.
The BLS expects job prospects for animal care and service workers to increase by 22% from 2019 to 2029. Due to the rise of pet owners and an increase in the number of animals in shelters, kennel and hospitals, animal care and service workers are needed to meet the demand of care.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of animal assisting programs may seek an undergraduate degree in veterinary technology. They are then eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technical National Examination to become licensed veterinary technologists. They may choose to enroll in an associate or bachelor's degree program in veterinary technology.
Certificate and associate's degree programs are both available to aspiring veterinary assistants. Graduates of these programs can work in many different environments, such as zoos, animal shelters, veterinary hospitals and humane societies.