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, a vet assistant role 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.
We’ll also review the veterinary assistant education requirements that could successfully land you a job.
Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant
It is a common misconception that a vet tech and a vet assistant are the same position. In reality, the roles are distinct but related. Both a tech and assistant might work in a veterinarian’s office or in an animal hospital.
Veterinary 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. The general 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 a vet assistant.
What Does a Vet Assistant Do?
Remember – the main 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 veterinary assistant duties you might be expected to perform:
- Providing food & water
- Assisting with the x-ray process
- Holding animals still while the vet or vet tech is treating them
- Collecting blood, fluid, and tissue samples
- Cleaning cages, equipment, exam rooms, and the facility in general
- Monitoring animals’ response to treatments
This is only a brief 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, which requires a flexible assistant 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?
Veterinary 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 for veterinary offices and animal hospitals, it’s a good idea to seek out additional training.
What Education Should You Pursue?
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 basic sciences used in veterinary offices. If you’ve already graduated, it 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 utilize to gain 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 the vet may not pay you, 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. 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 a vet assistant is a fantastic idea.
You cannot make the decision as to whether or not this is the right career for you 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 a greatly rewarding career.
Subjects Offered in Our Veterinary Assistant Course
At Stratford Career Institute we offer a variety of coursework to prepare you to enter into a career as a Veterinary Assistant.
Within our comprehensive course, you will learn:
- Studies in Human Relations for Veterinary Assistants
- The Veterinary Assistant Career and Medical Terminology
- Animal Anatomy and Physiology
- Animal Communication, Behavior, and Restraint
- Veterinary Assistant Tasks in Small Animal Practice
- Veterinary Assistant Tasks in Large Animal Practice
- Veterinary Assistant Tasks in Exotic Pets and Wild Animals
Each of these courses offers immensely important information. It will give you a broad range of information that is essential to any veterinary assistant and will prepare you for future classes and certifications as a veterinary assistant.
Other Credentials Veterinary Assistants Can Earn
Although you only need a high school education or a GED to become a veterinary assistant, there are other credentials you can earn. These credentials help you learn more about the field and make you a more attractive candidate.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America offers the New Veterinary Assistant credentials. However, to be eligible for this certification, candidates need to have completed an educational program approved by the NAVTA.
There are many community colleges that offer 2-year degrees in veterinary assistant training. Furthermore, the American Veterinary Medical Association offers a 2-year degree program.
Other Ways To Gain Veterinary Assistant Experience
There are many other ways to gain veterinary assistant experience outside of a degree program. Volunteering or getting a job at an animal hospital is a great way to gain valuable on the job experience. While there, you will also gain experience caring for animals and interacting with their owners. Employers will be looking for this kind of experience when hiring new veterinary assistants.
You could also get an entry-level job at a shelter or a veterinary clinic to gain experience as a veterinary assistant. All of these positions will give you connections in the industry. Hopefully, these connections land you a position as a full-time veterinary assistant in the future.
Desired Soft and Hard Skills of A Veterinary Assistant
Every day working as a veterinary assistant is different. Veterinary assistants need to be adaptable to simultaneously take care of customers and patients. Adaptability as a veterinary assistant will help the clinic where you work run efficiently because of your ability to do different jobs.
As a veterinary assistant, you need to be able to communicate effectively with customers and fellow staff members. Good communication makes the entire staff work together to help patients and keep the workflow running smoothly.
Desire to Learn
A good veterinary assistant has the desire to constantly learn about the field. Veterinary assistants need to learn all the skills required for patient care. The veterinary field sometimes alters its best practices, so veterinary assistants are always learning new skills for the job.
Critical thinking skills help veterinary assistants read charts properly and collect data on patients. Critical thinking is a crucial skill that helps veterinary assistants make quick decisions when it comes to patient care. Veterinary assistants need to be critical thinkers so they can assess situations quickly and make the right decision in the best interest of a patient.
As a veterinary assistant, you need a variety of technical skills while on the job. Veterinary assistants help with x-ray machines, inputting data into spreadsheets for patient tracking, and knowing how to help patients in distress. You can learn these skills in school, a certification program, or while on the job.
Take a Course on Becoming a Veterinary Assistant
Jump-start your career by taking an online veterinary assistant course offered by the Stratford Career Institute.
Interested in learning more about a career in veterinary training? Download our guide to Veterinary Assistant Training below!
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