Veterinary assistants take care of animals in veterinarian offices, animal hospitals, clinics, kennels, animal shelters and laboratories. Their major responsibilities include providing animals with food and water, exercising the animals, taking care of basic kennel tasks, and handling and restraining animals. They also perform basic laboratory and clerical procedures necessary for the daily operation of a facility.
Veterinary Assistant Schools
A passion for animals, above-average academic performance in math and the sciences, good decision-making and communication skills, and the ability to work well with your hands are all characteristics of a successful veterinary assistant. You can learn these skills in one of the following vocational and community college programs:
- Ashworth College: Though this veterinary assistant training program is offered online, it also assists students with finding local externships in a clinical setting.
- Animal Behavioral College: This online program offers hands-on training in veterinary assistance. This program also includes placement in an externship located near you.
- Brookdale Community College: This community college in Lincroft, New Jersey provides training for veterinary assistants. The program is approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
- Foothill College: This community college in Los Altos Hills, California offers a veterinary assistant certificate program that provides entry-level training for those starting careers in animal care.
- Penn Foster College: This online school's veterinary assistant career diploma prepares students to sit for the Approved Veterinary Assistant examination.
Veterinary Assistant Education Requirements
Depending on the veterinarian office in which she works, a veterinary assistant can learn her duties on the job and can be hired with little formal education. However, prior experience in dealing with animals is helpful. Veterinary assistant programs offered through some vocational schools and community colleges, such as those above, can help train future vet techs in a more formal setting. Veterinary assistant training involves a balance of classroom education and hands-on training.
Veterinary assistant programs usually include courses in the basics of dogs and cats, animal behavior, handling and restraining animals, veterinary terminology, nutrition and parasites. A solid foundation is also provided in obtaining animal health histories and records, body systems of animals, pathology and other subjects.
Currently, there is no credentialing examination or required certification for veterinary assistants. Certification programs, however, can be beneficial in helping you get your foot in the door with employers.
Resources for Veterinary Assistants
- National Dog Groomers Association of America
- American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA)
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Animal Behavioral College, http://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/VeterinaryAssistant/
- Ashworth College, https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/career-diplomas/veterinary-assisting/
- Brookdale Community College, http://www.brookdalecc.edu/continuinged/healthcare/hctraining/vet-assistant/
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Veterinary Assistant, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-assistants-and-laboratory-animal-caretakers.htm
- Penn Foster College, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/veterinary-studies/veterinary-assistant-career-diploma
- Foothill College, http://www.foothill.edu/bio/programs/vetasst/