5 Tips for Choosing a Veterinary Assisting Program
Being a veterinary assistant means enjoying many perks associated with the job, including being surrounded by adorable animals, learning about different animal diseases, and discovering several opportunities for career growth.
With an increasing demand for professionals in the veterinary health care field, it’s no surprise that many students consider getting veterinary assistant diplomas. Based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, job growth for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers will hit 14% between 2020 to 2030, thanks to an increase in pet-related spending.
However, students must avoid the mistake of simply relying on their love for animals to help them land their dream job. Aspiring veterinary assistants need to think about their education. Choosing a program that suits their career goals should be the first consideration.
What You Need to Know About Starting a Veterinary Assisting Program
The veterinary assisting diploma program can make a huge difference in opening opportunities for the best jobs and compensation. With the growing number of educational institutions offering veterinary assisting classes, choosing the one that matches your personal and professional goals is essential. Here’s how to get started:
- Choose a school with proper accreditation
Not all schools are equal. While most offer aspiring veterinary assistants a choice of classes about proper animal care, not all schools have the proper accreditation that will bring credibility to one’s resume when applying for jobs. Certification for veterinary assistants is not a requirement. However, recognized credentials will demonstrate your ability in animal husbandry, facility management, and health and welfare administration.
One accreditation is the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), which offers the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation. A requirement for this designation is a diploma from a NAVTA-approved program. Vet assistants must also pass an exam. The designation is good for two years and can be renewed.
- Check hands-on training offerings
Another factor that can increase one’s chances of getting a good job offer is being able to demonstrate practical skills. While one can read about the different theories to apply when doing animal care, nothing beats learning from actual experience, including handling animals and sterilizing instruments.
It’s also wise to ask if they have industry-modeled training, wherein all supplies, instruments, and equipment are used in real vet clinics.
Typically, schools offer up to 100 hours of clinical externship to allow aspiring veterinary assistants to apply theoretical knowledge working with animals in animal healthcare settings.
Remember, working with veterinary technicians and veterinarians can be pretty fast-paced, and they won’t always have time to train you while working. It’s best to learn at least the basics before starting a job. Hands-on experience makes employers feel more confident about your contribution if they hire you.
- Know if they have a roster of qualified instructors
More than learning from textbooks, working with people who have experience in the field helps aspiring veterinary assistants start on the right foot with a more reliable and realistic application of theoretical knowledge. Seasoned instructors have better information on the latest animal care best practices. Textbooks take years to get published and some information may be outdated, so it’s best to get more accurate data from actual practitioners.
- Determine class sizes
Aside from getting knowledge and training from qualified instructors, it also helps to check the class size. The smaller the class size, the better. This will help all learners get undivided attention from instructors, particularly when it comes to hands-on training sessions. Smaller class sizes often have higher engagement rates and better learning outcomes.
Keep in mind, however, that smaller class sizes mean higher tuition fees. However, this can be a worthy investment because it will help increase your expertise and training to beat the competition in the job market.
- Ask about job search assistance programs
Looking for jobs after graduation can be tough and scary. Luckily, several educational institutions have existing partnerships with employers. Some even have instructors from prestigious vet clinics who are looking for promising talent they can recruit. Don’t hesitate to inquire if the veterinary assistant school offers job search assistance programs. This helps students ease into the job market.
When looking at veterinary assistant programs, it’s best to have several options. Do your research and list at least three to five educational institutions to check out. Weigh the pros and cons and see which one best suits your goals. If you have a mentor or know a veterinary assistant currently practicing, ask for their recommendations.
Check out our Veterinary Assisting Diploma details to know what you can get from our offering.
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