Tip of the Month

3/1/2009 Thinking of Becoming a Veterinary Assistant?

Do your friends call you the “crazy cat lady?” Do you have more framed portraits in your house of your dog than your nieces/nephews? Do you love animals more than you love most people? Would the perfect job for you involve working with animals daily? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re the perfect candidate for the numerous animal jobs out there!

It’s eternally fulfilling to spend your days working in a field that you love. Lucky for animal lovers, there are many, many jobs available to us. Some require minimal schooling, while others call for a degree, such as a Bachelor’s in Animal Science. In this article, we will discuss becoming a veterinary assistant, as the demand for professionals in this field has risen considerably (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for professional veterinary services will rise more than 22 by the year 2014) and the requirements are few.

Becoming a veterinary assistant does not necessarily require any certification or a degree from a veterinary assistant school, though it is recommended. An assistant (in comparison to a veterinary technician who must achieve at least a two-year Associate’s degree) is usually trained on-the-job for all of the procedures he/she will be responsible for. However, when Animal Behavior College (ABC) polled veterinarians across the United States, they found that over 96 of all veterinarians surveyed stated they would prefer to employ an assistant who pursued and achieved certification over those who did not. Thus, certification from one of the more well-respected veterinary assistant schools is highly recommended.

Also, keep in mind that while some certification programs will simply suffice, you will be much better off becoming certified by a veterinary assistant school that includes hands-on training as part of their curriculum, such as ABC’s Veterinary Assistant Certification program. Extensive research of veterinarians nationwide indicates that 88 of veterinarians prefer to hire certified graduates from veterinary assistant schools where the curriculum included a hands-on training module in a veterinary setting. Also, the hands-on training is a great learning experience that will stay with you throughout your career.

Once you have decided whether you will seek certification prior to attempting a career as a veterinary assistant, make sure to choose the right school that covers all necessary topics. If you have any questions about what you need to learn, try questioning the veterinarian at your local veterinary clinic or hospital. Your veterinarian should be able to tell you what he or she requires out of their assistants. Then, compare that information to the courses offered by your choice of veterinary assistant school to ensure that everything is covered. Your responsibilities will be numerous and will include (though will not be limited to) assisting in examinations, laboratory testing, imaging (including x-ray and ultrasound), assisting with front office procedures, administering vaccinations, drawing blood and obtaining urine and fecal samples for testing, assisting and answering questions for clients, exercising dogs on their daily walks, and much, much more. Learning how to do all of this before applying for a job at a veterinary hospital or clinic will put you far ahead of the competition.

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