How To Become A Veterinary Assistant

portrait of a veterinarian and assistant in a small animal clinic at work

Every batman requires a robin. Similarly, every vet tech requires a veterinary assistant. A veterinary assistant works under the supervision of a veterinary technician. They provide basic care for pets and non-farm animals. Their duties include taking blood samples, administering medicine and assisting during procedures and surgeries. It can also include simple tasks like feeding the animals, looking after the animals or checking their temperature when needed. Let’s see how to become a veterinary assistant.

High school diploma
Every budding veterinary technician needs a high school diploma as a minimum requirement. Courses in Biology, Chemistry, and English help you develop the basic knowledge required for this job.

Get a certificate
Many colleges offer a Veterinary Assistant Certificate Program. These programs focus both on practical and theoretical knowledge. You also learn the diagnostic processes, causes of diseases, processes in the lab and ways of treatment. The course covers animal anatomy and physiology, veterinary law, veterinary terminology, and parasitology.

Try to get some experience
As every job prefers that their employees have previous work experience, so does this one. You can try to volunteer or intern at various animal shelters to work closely with animals and gain experience in this field. Some of the certificate programs also include some mandatory internships that you must go through to get the certificate. You could also choose to work at a wildlife refuge, veterinary clinic or a nonprofit organization.

Find a job
After getting some experience and a certification you can try to work at zoos, veterinary clinics, animal shelter and nonprofit organizations. One can also try to work under some vet techs who are currently performing some or the other kind of research. This will give you better exposure and more skills to work with later in the future. Being a veterinary assistant doesn’t pay much, but the experience gained is invaluable and it is enough money for a high school pass out.

Strive to achieve more
Once you have achieved your certification you can try to undergo a 2-year associate course to become a veterinary technician or a 4-year associate course to become a veterinary technologist. Both people can work in veterinary offices, research labs, and federal agencies. However, obtaining both of these degrees, you need to first get a bachelor’s degree and then pursue a degree in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). After all this extra training the salary is significantly higher than that of an assistant.

Specialty Vet assistant
As an assistant, you could still try to specialize in some or the other field. You could work under research vets if you are interested in the field of research. Alternatively, you can join some animal educational programs, large/exotic animal health care practices or work at some rescue/refuge/stray shelters.

At the end of the day becoming a veterinary assistant will show you how the life of a veterinarian is. You could learn a lot from this if you wish to be a vet tech later in your life!