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Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers have a high school diploma and learn the occupation on the job. Experience working with animals can be helpful for jobseekers.Education
Most workers entering the occupation have a high school diploma or its equivalent.Training
Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are trained on the job, but some employers prefer candidates who already have experience working with animals.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although certification is not mandatory, it allows workers to demonstrate competency in animal husbandry, health and welfare, and facility administration. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have certification, and it may be required for advancement.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offers the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation for veterinary assistants. To qualify for the designation, candidates must graduate from a NAVTA-approved program and pass an exam.
Laboratory animal caretakers can become certified through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). AALAS offers three levels of certification: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG). For AALAS certification, candidates must have experience working in a laboratory animal facility and pass an exam.Important Qualities
Communication skills. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers often communicate with pet owners, veterinarians, veterinary technologists and technicians, and other assistants. Good communication skills are especially important when dealing with an emergency, such as an ill or injured animal needing immediate attention.
Detail oriented. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must follow strict instructions. For example, workers must be precise when sterilizing surgical equipment, monitoring animals, and giving medication.
Dexterity. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must handle animals and use medical instruments and laboratory equipment with care.
Empathy. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must treat animals with kindness and be empathetic to both the animals and their owners.
Physical strength. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must be able to handle, move, and restrain animals.
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