Is becoming a veterinary assistant right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming a veterinary assistant is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a veterinary assistant or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
How to become a Veterinary Assistant
Becoming a veterinary assistant typically does not require extensive formal education, but having a high school diploma or equivalent is generally preferred. Here is a detailed overview of the steps to become a veterinary assistant:
- Research the Role: Start by learning about the duties and responsibilities of veterinary assistants. Gain an understanding of the skills and qualities required for the role, as well as the potential work environments and career prospects.
- Gain Relevant Experience: Look for opportunities to gain experience working with animals. Volunteer at animal shelters, clinics, or veterinary offices to learn about animal care, handling, and basic veterinary procedures. This experience will provide valuable insights into the field and help you determine if it's the right career path for you.
- Pursue Veterinary Assistant Programs: Although not always mandatory, completing a veterinary assistant program can enhance your knowledge and improve your job prospects. Look for accredited programs offered by community colleges, vocational schools, or online platforms. These programs typically cover topics such as animal anatomy, medical terminology, veterinary procedures, and office administration.
- Consider Certification: While certification is not always required, obtaining a certification as a veterinary assistant can demonstrate your dedication and commitment to the profession (see below).
- Apply for Entry-Level Positions: Begin applying for veterinary assistant positions once you have completed your education or gained sufficient experience. Look for job openings in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, research facilities, or animal shelters. Tailor your resume to highlight your relevant experience, skills, and any certifications you have obtained.
- On-the-Job Training: Once hired, you will likely receive on-the-job training from experienced veterinary professionals. This training will familiarize you with clinic protocols, animal handling techniques, record keeping, and other essential aspects of the job. Take advantage of this training period to learn as much as possible and ask questions.
- Continuous Learning and Professional Development: As a veterinary assistant, it's important to stay updated on advancements in the field. Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences to expand your knowledge and skills. Consider pursuing further education or certification opportunities, such as becoming a certified veterinary assistant (CVA) through NAVTA, to enhance your professional growth.
In the United States, there are several certifications available for veterinary assistants that can help enhance their credentials and demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Some of the certifications recognized in the veterinary field include:
- Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA): Offered by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), the AVA certification is widely recognized and demonstrates proficiency in essential knowledge and skills for veterinary assistants. To be eligible for the AVA certification, candidates must complete an approved veterinary assistant program and pass the AVA examination.
- Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA): The Certified Veterinary Assistant program is administered by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA). This certification requires candidates to complete a veterinary assistant training program and pass the CVA examination. The CVA certification provides recognition for individuals who have attained a high level of competence in veterinary assisting.
- Veterinary Assistant Certification (VAC): Offered by the Animal Behavior College, the VAC program provides comprehensive training for veterinary assistants. It covers topics such as animal anatomy, medical terminology, clinical procedures, and client communication. Graduates of the VAC program can take the certification examination to earn the VAC credential.
- State-Specific Certifications: Some states may have their own certification programs for veterinary assistants. These certifications may have specific requirements and regulations unique to the state. It's important to research the requirements of your specific state to determine if any state-specific certifications are available.