Veterinary Assistant Training
If you are considering becoming a veterinary assistant, you should get to know what is expected of you when it comes to your education. Though college is not a necessity for this career, some higher education can increase your chance of quickly finding a job as a veterinary assistant. Therefore, it helps to get to know the common training requirements.
Veterinary Assistant Degree Programs
One of the most common degrees sought to become a veterinary assistant is an associate’s degree. This involves going to a community college for about two years. You may be able to complete the coursework faster, though, especially if you choose an online school that allows you to work at your own pace. This kind of degree is popular because many other careers require at least an associate’s degree, so you can avoid having to return to school if you decide you want to be something other than a veterinary assistant. In fact, some colleges other four-year programs in this subject, allowing you to get a bachelor’s degree.
If you are eager to get into this career, though, you may be interested in getting a certificate as a veterinary assistant. This typically takes only one year or less, and can be obtained at a vocational school, sometimes even online. Of course, if you really do not have time to devote to attending school, note that you do not have to have a degree or certificate to become a veterinary assistant, as some people simply learn on-the-job. If you know of an office near you hiring for veterinary assistants, and it does not require a degree, you can typically learn the skills you need over time as you work.
If you wish to go to community college or a vocational school, you typically need a high school diploma or GED. You are also expected to have some experience with both computers and animals, including the ability to lift somewhat heavy pets. If you wish to go to a university for a bachelor’s degree, though, you typically need good grades on your high school transcript, a decent SAT score, and involvement in extracurricular activities to show you were an all-around good student in high school. Some colleges are more competitive than others, so you are advised to look at the requirements before applying.
What to Expect During Veterinary Assistant Training
To take on this job, you typically need to know how to sterilize the exam rooms and equipment, give medicine to animals, and generally help care for sick pets. If you plan to learn these duties at school rather than on-the-job, you can expect to take courses that teach these tasks. In addition, you will like have to take classes focused on the following:
- Animal anatomy and physiology
- Lab procedures
- Animal nursing and care
- Diagnostic imaging
- Animal nutrition
- Care of injuries
- Surgical assisting
- The basics of anesthesia and other medicine
If you are enrolled in a program that will result in a degree, you will also have to take general courses, such as writing and math. Of course, a four-year program is bound to be more in-depth than a two-year college, so you will likely have to take more specialized courses. In addition, many schools require you to spend time in a veterinary office to find out what you will be doing each day. This can help you make sure you really want to become a veterinary assistant, and may even help you get connections that will lead to a job after graduation.
Additional Training for Veterinary Assistants
If you do pursue some form of education before becoming a veterinary assistant, you should consider adding to your qualifications so your skills are always up-to-date. You can do so by taking part in a program given by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. You can choose from courses and seminars to ensure that you stay informed of modern veterinary techniques and equipment, as the industry regularly changes.
If, after some experience as a veterinary assistant, you decide you wish to advance in this field, you can go back to school to become a veterinary technician. This position often features higher pay, along with increased responsibility, and it does require a degree. Fortunately, though, if you already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you can usually just get a certificate to become a veterinary technician, typically within a year or less. Of course, if you are truly interested in advancing to the top in this field, you can return to school to become a veterinarian.