Veterinary assistants support veterinarians and vet techs by performing tasks related to paperwork, office duties and assisting with certain procedures. Vet assistants often comfort animals and owners, keep facilities clean and oversee appointment scheduling.
Vet assistants find employment within private practices, animal shelters, farms, boarding kennels and rescue organizations. Animal hospitals, zoos and aquariums often hire vet assistants.
Vet assistants are not typically required to hold a degree, but certification provides greater employment opportunities. The certification required is dependent upon the type of employment. Professional associations often recommend certification for vet assistants who work with kennels, stables or other professions dealing with direct animal interaction.
Vet assistants help veterinarians by maintaining patient records, answering phones, setting up appointments and greeting patients. They may comfort or sit with sick animals or those in need of attention while being treated by the veterinarian. Vet assistants also clean and maintain animal facilities, and communicate with owners during treatment and follow up.
A vet assistant’s duties vary based on the needs of the employer. Vet assistants working in an animal hospital will deal primarily with ill or injured animals, while employment in a private practice might involve working with general care of animals, both healthy and diseased.
A vet assistant could perform any of the following tasks:
Successful vet assistants demonstrate patience with both patients and owners, provide calm support for other veterinary professionals and communicate effectively. Depending on the type of employment, vet assistants may work irregular hours.
With a growing pet population and owners’ desires for exceptional treatment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that this job will grow faster than average through 2018, at a percentage of 21%. Job opportunities are considered excellent as needs accelerate in not only private practice, but also shelters and rescue organizations.
The Department of Labor notes that the average annual salary for vet assistants falls in the $20,000 range with most salaries falling between $16,000 and $24,000.