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Become A VET Assistant

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Working As A VET Assistant

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • $31,000

    Average Salary

What Does A VET Assistant Do

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers look after animals in laboratories, animal hospitals, and clinics. They care for the animals by performing routine tasks under the supervision of scientists, veterinarians, and veterinary technologists and technicians.

Duties

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers typically do the following:

  • Feed, bathe, and exercise animals
  • Clean and disinfect cages, kennels, and examination and operating rooms
  • Restrain animals during examination and laboratory procedures
  • Maintain and sterilize surgical instruments and equipment
  • Monitor and care for animals after surgery
  • Help provide emergency first aid to sick and injured animals
  • Give medication or immunizations that veterinarians prescribe
  • Assist in the collection of blood, urine, and tissue samples

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are responsible for many daily tasks, such as feeding, weighing, and taking the temperature of animals. Other duties may include giving medication, cleaning cages, and providing nursing care before and after surgery and other medical procedures.

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers play a large role in helping veterinarians and animal scientists with surgery and other minor procedures. They may prepare equipment and pass surgical instruments and materials to veterinarians during surgery. They also move animals and restrain them during testing and other procedures.

Veterinary assistants typically work in clinics and animal hospitals, helping veterinarians and veterinary technologists and technicians treat injuries and illnesses of animals.

Laboratory animal caretakers work in laboratories under the supervision of a veterinarian, scientist, veterinary technician, or veterinary technologist. Their daily tasks include feeding animals, cleaning kennels, and monitoring the animals.

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How To Become A VET Assistant

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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VET Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

83.2%

Male

15.5%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

65.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.7%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

68.2%

French

8.8%

German

4.6%

Russian

2.8%

Chinese

2.6%

Mandarin

2.3%

Italian

1.9%

Portuguese

1.4%

Hindi

0.9%

Korean

0.9%

Japanese

0.9%

Arabic

0.9%

Greek

0.7%

Cantonese

0.7%

Swedish

0.5%

Ukrainian

0.5%

Dakota

0.5%

Polish

0.5%

Vietnamese

0.2%

Sindhi

0.2%
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VET Assistant Education

Schools

Michigan State University

9.8%

Northern Virginia Community College

6.3%

Iowa State University

6.0%

Auburn University

5.8%

University of Phoenix

5.8%

San Juan College

5.8%

Oklahoma State University

5.6%

Colorado State University

5.6%

Purdue University

4.8%

North Carolina State University

4.7%

University of Georgia

4.5%

Kansas State University

4.4%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

4.2%

Saint Petersburg College

4.1%

University of Pennsylvania

4.1%

University of Florida

3.9%

University of California - Davis

3.9%

Mississippi State University

3.6%

Texas A&M University

3.5%

University of Connecticut

3.5%
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Majors

Medical Assisting Services

22.6%

Biology

13.7%

Animal Science

11.5%

Business

7.6%

Nursing

5.3%

Psychology

5.1%

Veterinary Medicine

5.1%

General Studies

3.7%

Criminal Justice

3.2%

Veterinary Science

3.1%

Health Care Administration

2.7%

Zoology

2.6%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Medical Technician

1.8%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.8%

Environmental Science

1.7%

Accounting

1.7%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

1.7%

English

1.5%

Education

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.7%

Other

32.0%

Associate

17.4%

Certificate

6.0%

Masters

5.7%

Doctorate

1.9%

Diploma

1.6%

License

0.6%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real VET Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Veterinary Assistant Peninsula Equine, Inc. CA Nov 01, 2014 $47,792
Veterinary Assistant Peninsula Equine, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Nov 01, 2015 $47,792
Veterinary Assistant Peninsula Equine, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Nov 01, 2016 $47,792
Veterinary Assistant Peninsula Equine, Inc. CA Nov 01, 2013 $47,792
Veterinary Assistant Alamo Area Veterinary Clinic Castroville, TX Feb 22, 2010 $39,062
Veterinary Assistant Dolin Animal Hospital, Inc. Bloomfield, NJ Aug 16, 2010 $32,578
Veterinary Assistant Dolin Animal Hospital, Inc. Bloomfield, NJ Aug 16, 2009 $32,578
Veterinary Assistant Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League West Palm Beach, FL Dec 07, 2009 $32,000
Veterinary Assistant Midwest Veterinary Hospital, Inc. Midwest City, OK Sep 11, 2015 $32,000
Veterinary Assistant Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League West Palm Beach, FL Dec 07, 2010 $32,000
Veterinary Assistant Midwest Veterinary Hospital, Inc. Midwest City, OK Sep 04, 2015 $32,000
Veterinary Assistant Happy Tails, Inc. Anchorage, AK Jan 12, 2016 $29,385 -
$38,610
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Lawrence Animal Hospital NY Dec 07, 2009 $27,528
Veterinary Assistant Tuskegee University Tuskegee, AL Jun 08, 2015 $27,000
Veterinary Assistant All Creatures Veterinary Hospital, Inc. Salem, MA Jan 01, 2015 $26,000 -
$31,000
Veterinary Assistant Weatherford Equine Medical Center PC Weatherford, TX Jan 01, 2015 $24,084
Veterinary Assistant Stage Road Animal Hospital Angier, NC Jun 24, 2013 $24,001 -
$26,088
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Veterinary + Human Partners International, LLC Sunrise, FL Aug 21, 2014 $23,774
Veterinary Assistant Creekside Animal Clinic Inc. Norton, OH Jun 19, 2015 $23,088
Veterinary Assistant Mountain View Veterinary Hospital Dahlonega, GA Feb 01, 2010 $23,000
Veterinary Assistant Emerald City Emergency Clinic IPS Seattle, WA Oct 01, 2009 $21,914
Veterinary Assistant All Creatures Veteriny Hospital, Inc. Salem, MA Apr 01, 2015 $21,861 -
$30,000
Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker All Creatures Veterinary Hospital, Inc. Salem, MA Apr 15, 2015 $21,861 -
$30,000
Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker All Creatures Veteriny Hospital, Inc. Salem, MA Apr 15, 2015 $21,861 -
$30,000
Veterimary Assistant Alamo Area Veterimary Clinic Castroville, TX Jan 30, 2010 $21,822 -
$39,062
Equine Veterinary Assistant Dehaven Batchelor, DVM & Assoc., Inc. Sanford, FL May 21, 2010 $20,870 -
$14
Veterinary Assistant Emerald City Emergency Clinic IPS Seattle, WA Oct 01, 2009 $20,870

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A VET Assistant

Average Yearly Salary
$31,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$19,000
Min 10%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
VCA Animal Hospitals
Highest Paying City
League City, TX
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.4 years
How much does a VET Assistant make at top companies?
The national average salary for a VET Assistant in the United States is $31,499 per year or $15 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $19,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $51,000.

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Top Skills for A VET Assistant

  1. Routine Laboratory Tests
  2. Animal Care
  3. Surgical Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed routine laboratory tests and diagnostic tests, such as taking x-rays and operating diagnostic instruments
  • Assisted veterinarian with routine medical and animal care procedures.
  • Gained experience setting up for and performing surgical procedures in a laboratory setting.
  • Assist veterinarian in exam rooms as veterinary technician.
  • Performed skills necessary for basic patient care including, fecal analysis, conventional radiology and surgery assistance.

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Top 10 Best States for VET Assistants

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Alaska
  3. Oregon
  4. Colorado
  5. Indiana
  6. Washington
  7. Minnesota
  8. North Carolina
  9. Connecticut
  10. District of Columbia
  • (107 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (32 jobs)
  • (63 jobs)
  • (50 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (55 jobs)
  • (78 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)

Top VET Assistant Employers

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Jobs From Top VET Assistant Employers

VET Assistant Videos

A Day in the Life - Veterinarian Technician

Veterinarian Career Information : How to Become a Veterinarian

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