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How to Become a Veterinary Assistant

Veterinary assistants are responsible for providing animal care under the guidance of a veterinarian. Their job scope includes bathing, feeding, and exercising the animals, among other things. There may be instances when they will be asked to help restrain the animals during examinations and treatment, and vet assistants may also help veterinary technicians and veterinarians to collect blood and urine samples for testing. 

Being a veterinary assistant has become a popular career option. In the US, there are more than 107,000 vet assistants currently employed, with a demand for nearly 20,000 more. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, with projected job growth of 14%, vet assistant employment could reach 122,500 by 2030.

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If you want a career in healthcare but have a love for animals, a career in the veterinary industry, such as veterinary assisting, could be the right choice for you. Aside from the medical aspects of diagnosis and treatment, you also get to enjoy caring for animals. 

Qualities Veterinary Assistants Should Have

Before getting a veterinary assisting diploma, checking your suitability for the role is critical. Here are five qualities that vet assistants should have that may help ensure your success and growth in the animal care industry:

  1. Patience

Working with animals requires a lot of patience, particularly when it comes to grooming, bathing, and administering medications. Vet assistants may also need to exercise patience with the pets’ owners, who may be demanding or experiencing strong emotions while their pets are under veterinary care. 

  1. Empathy

Vet clinics are involved with different types of animal health care. Dealing with pets in distress (and their owners) with genuine empathy can help provide comfort. Vet assistants should be ready to provide support and assurance with compassion. 

  1. Attention to Detail

Vet assistants must keep an eye on the details, specifically if they are in charge of administering medications. They will also be involved in assessing animals’ health concerns, so paying attention to physical characteristics and responses and observing how the animals behave is essential. 

  1. Communication Skills

Communication skills play a huge part for vet assistants. This trait can help them work with team members and maintain a professional relationship with customers. They should learn how to accurately communicate the required pet care, including proper dosage and frequency of medications. 

  1. Physical Strength

Aside from these soft skills, vet assistants should be physically fit. As part of their responsibilities, vet assistants may be required to lift and restrain animals or stand for long periods. In some clinics, vet assistants may haul equipment and supplies, which will require strength and endurance. That said, they should maintain some level of staying physically fit to do the job.

On top of all these things, veterinary assistants need to have a real passion for animals. 

Tips for Becoming a Veterinary Assistant

Here’s a quick guide to starting a career as a veterinary assistant:

Enroll in a Veterinary Assisting Program 

Certification is not officially required to become a veterinary assistant. However, employers prefer candidates who have competencies in animal care and welfare and facility administration. To stand out from the competition, consider earning an official veterinary assistant designation from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), which requires graduating from an approved program and passing an assessment. 

Getting a veterinary assistant diploma will help expand your role. With the right education, vet assistants can take on much more complex responsibilities (e.g., animal nursing, laboratory procedures, and diagnostic imaging). 

Get On-the-Job Training

After obtaining your veterinary assisting diploma, on-the-job (OJT) training will give you more of the skills and clinical background the job requires. During the OJT, students learn the different tasks expected from them, such as how to properly handle animals, assist with procedures, and how to use different types of software. 

While in training, start researching the different types of vet assisting jobs in high demand and align your training with these jobs to improve your hiring success. 

Apply for Veterinary Assisting Jobs

After getting your veterinary assisting diploma and completing the OJT, applying for jobs in animal health care will be much easier. Being a veterinary assistant is the perfect opportunity to work in the healthcare industry providing care to animals. To ensure you have the skills and training, make getting a veterinary assisting diploma your first step towards success. 

Check out our Veterinary Assisting program to learn more about our program. 

Please share this article with your friends so they can explore a career in veterinary assisting.