If you’re here reading this, chances are good that you’re an animal lover. This is the first and most crucial step towards a career in veterinary sciences. For most people interested in getting into the field, the role of vet assistant fits well. As a veterinary assistant, your duties will largely be centered around supporting veterinary technicians and veterinarians.
Today, we’re going to learn a little bit about the position of vet assistant, and we’ll review the education that could successfully land a job.
Let’s get started!
Vet Tech vs. Vet Assistant
It is a common misconception that a vet tech and a vet assistant is the same position. In reality, the roles are distinct, though related. Both a tech and assistant might work in a veterinarian’s office or in an animal hospital.
Technicians generally perform high-level tasks such as medical tests and administering limited medical care. Because of this level of duty, more training is required. Usually the expectation is that a tech will have a specialized certification that qualifies them for these tasks.
On the other hand, veterinary assistants focus on more basic tasks and day-to-day activities to support the technicians and the veterinarian. Now that we’ve provided some clarification, let’s examine the types of duties you might expect as an assistant.
What Does a Vet Assistant Do?
Remember – the core requirement for a vet assistant is that you love animals! You’ll be spending lots of time interacting with and caring for them, and that does include sometimes unpleasant tasks. Here are some of the specific duties you might be expected to perform:
• Providing food & water
• Assisting with the x-ray process
• Holding animals still while they are being treated by the vet or vet tech
• Collecting blood, fluid, and tissue samples
• Cleaning cages, equipment, exam rooms, and the facility in general
• Monitoring animal response to treatment
This is just quick list of the duties you might perform as a vet assistant. Each practice or hospital will be different and have their own set of needs, so an assistant should be flexible and up for a wide variety of tasks.
Now to answer the question at hand – what type of education will you need to become a veterinary assistant?
Vet Assistant Education Requirements
You might be relieved to learn that becoming a veterinary assistant typically only requires a high school diploma or GED. However, if you want to make yourself an attractive candidate to veterinary offices and animal hospitals, it’s a good idea to seek out more training.
So what kind of education should you focus on if you’re trying to make yourself a more attractive candidate?
First of all, if you’re still in high school, you can select courses like biology and chemistry that will give you a solid background in the basis sciences used in practice. If you’ve already graduated, in wouldn’t hurt to brush up on some of the basics – the internet is a fantastic resource for that.
Second, you really should consider extended training that will provide you with a solid knowledge base in the field. There are many programs that can equip with the skills and understanding you need to be an excellent veterinary assistant.
Third, accepting a volunteering or internship position is generally a good idea. Though you may not be paid, you’ll gain valuable real-world experience. You’ll also be able to network and develop professional contacts at this time. In many cases, an internship or volunteering position can lead to a permanent job at the clinic or hospital.
It is important to note that many vet techs and even veterinarians started out in the position you’re considering working towards. You’ll learn valuable information and may decide to attend a 2-year or 4-year program to advance your career further. If your long term goal is to become a veterinarian, starting out as assistant is a fantastic idea.
Deciding whether or not this is the right job for you is not a decision that can be made overnight. Take your time, consider all the facts, and really think about whether or not this is the type of career you’d like. If and when your answer is a firm “yes,” you can start taking the steps necessary towards an awesomely rewarding career.