Veterinary assistants are trained to help take care of animals being treated by veterinary technicians and veterinarians. Typically, their duties include feeding and watering animals, setting up examination rooms, sterilizing equipment and preparing lab samples. The schooling required to be a vet technician varies, depending on employer preferences. Some vet assistant jobs require applicants have post-secondary training, while other employers offer on-the-job training.
High School Diploma
Veterinary assistants are not required to have a high school diploma -- or any other formal education -- but having a high school diploma or GED equivalent could increase an applicant’s earning and employment potential, as well as increase the likelihood of being accepted to a formal vet assistant training program.
There are schools that offer post-secondary education and training for veterinary assistants, though completing a program is not mandatory for employment in the field. Programs are offered through technical schools, community colleges and online schools, and typically take less than a year. Instruction includes coursework in examining room procedures, area sanitation and sterilization, animal handling and restraint, emergency procedures, preventive care, radiology, anatomy, pharmacology, surgical prep and assistance, and laboratory protocol. Students are also typically required to complete an externship at a local animal hospital or clinic to gain supervised, hands-on experience.
Veterinarians may hire vet assistants with no formal education and provide on-the-job training. In these cases, it helps if applicants have prior experience working with animals. Valuable traits include compassion, patience, physical strength, attention to detail and dexterity, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As of 2012, there are no national certifications available for veterinary assistants; however, Texas offers certification through its veterinary board. Check your state's veterinary board to find out whether a vet assistant certification is offered.
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