Veterinary assistants provide care to animals and help veterinarians and veterinary technicians during exams and surgery. They clean and disinfect examination and operating rooms, surgical instruments and equipment.
Veterinary assistants lift, restrain and soothe pets during examinations or laboratory tests. They help provide emergency aid to sick and injured animals, and care for them before and after surgical procedures.
Nights and weekends possible
Veterinary assistants may take on full-time or part-time hours. Evenings, weekends and even holiday shifts are possible to accommodate customer needs and emergencies.
You will typically work in a veterinary office, hospital or shelter.
Assisting veterinarians can be both physically and emotionally demanding. You may be exposed to contagious illnesses and potentially hazardous cleaning and pharmaceutical chemicals. You may also suffer kicks, scratches and bites from distressed animals. Following all safety protocols will help mitigate these risks.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
DVM / VMD degree
Most veterinary assistants only need a high school diploma or equivalent degree. You will receive on-the-job training.
Certification from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) is available. You will need to complete accredited coursework before sitting for the exam. High schools, community and technical colleges, and some high schools provide approved programs that take two years or less to complete.
Veterinary assistants often start as part-time workers, gaining practical experience while attending school. Earning NAVTA certification can help you land full-time jobs and positions with more responsibility at large clinics and animal hospitals. Some veterinary assistants continue their schooling to become a veterinary technician or veterinarian.