What does a veterinary assistant do? As a veterinary assistant, you’ll be working under the supervision of vet techs and veterinarians doing tasks such as:

  • Feeding, bathing, and exercising the animals in your care
  • Making sure all the cages, equipment, examining and operating rooms are clean and sterilized
  • Holding animals still during examinations
  • Taking care of animals prior to and post-surgery
  • Helping to give any first aid to animals in duress
  • Administering prescribed meds
  • Helping collect fecal, urine, blood, and tissue samples
  • Working in an animal hospital or clinic

How to Become a Veterinary Assistant

Becoming a veterinary assistant is a fairly quick process. There is no required schooling for it. However, many veterinarians prefer to hire applicants that have a high school diploma or GED.

  • Get your high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Receive your training through a vet clinic or animal hospital.
  • There is no degree or certification necessary. But there is one available, and it will prove you are proficient in animal care, health and welfare, and administration.
  • Certifications are available through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, which offers a vet assistant certificate. To be qualified, you must graduate from an approved program and pass an exam.

Salary and Job Outlook

Veterinary assistant salaries in 2017 average a tad over $26K for mid-career. Entry level will bring in $19K, and those in their mid late career earn over $38K. Less than half of the veterinary assistants worked full time. Night, weekend, and holiday hours may be expected from you.

Employment growth is much higher than average. There will be over 16K new jobs available through 2026. There is a high turnover rate for vet assistants, which is why so many positions will be open.

Becoming a vet assistant is also a great starting point for careers in the veterinary professions. It’s a career that gives you a taste of what caring for animals is like.