What does a Veterinarian Assistant do?

Median Pay $26,140
Growth Rate 19%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A veterinarian assistant cares for the well-being of animals in animal hospitals, clinics, or laboratories. They feed, bath, exercise, and monitor animals as well as disinfect cages, kennels or examination and operating rooms. They monitor animals after surgery and assist a veterinarian in a variety of other duties.

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How to Become a Veterinarian Assistant

veterinarian assistant with a puppy

Most employers expect a veterinarian assistant to have at least a high school diploma and provide on-the-job training. An employer would prefer previous experience with animals, therefore it may be helpful to volunteer at a local animal shelter or rescue. In addition though not required some veterinarian assistants pursue certifications for advancement opportunities after gaining experience. This can be earned through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) or the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.

Job Description of a Veterinarian Assistant

A veterinarian assistant performs a variety of tasks under the supervision of a vet. They sterilize surgical instruments and equipment as well as feed, bathe, exercise and weigh animals. They are most often found working in clinics, animal hospitals, and laboratories. They must work a variety of hours including nights, week-ends, and holidays.

They restrain animals during an examination or laboratory procedure. He or she would give medication or immunizations prescribed by the veterinarian and assist in collecting, urine, blood and tissue samples of the animal. They would monitor and care for an animal after any surgical procedure.

This job can be very stressful and demanding due to working with ill and injuries animals. Often times these animals are scared or aggressive. Therefore, they can cause injury to you such a bites, scratches, or bruising while restraining or holding an animal that is receiving care.

Veterinary Assistant Career Video Transcript

Whether an orangutan needs surgery or a rat performs in a drug trial, veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers help make sure animals’ needs and well-being are looked after. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers perform routine care tasks such as bathing and exercising animals, cleaning and disinfecting facilities, and providing first aid or care after surgery.

They work under the supervision of scientists, veterinarians, and veterinary technologists and technicians. They also administer medication, and help restrain animals for examinations and lab procedures. While empathy for animals makes for a good start, there’s often a somber side to animal care. These caregivers treat animals who are sick or have been mistreated and sometimes need to be euthanized. Handling and restraining animals takes physical strength and stamina, but dexterity is also important especially when handling medical equipment.

Good communication skills and an eye for detail are also essential. Work settings for these two fields differ: veterinary assistants typically work in clinics and animal hospitals, helping treat animals with injuries and illnesses, while laboratory animal caretakers generally work in laboratories where they feed and monitor the animals involved in research.

Work hours may be full or part-time, and often include nights, weekends, and holidays. Most workers in these fields have a high school diploma or equivalent, and learn the work on the job.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers.

National Center for O*NET Development. 31-9096.00. O*NET OnLine.

The video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.