The Rewarding Career of a Vet Assistant
Pets are becoming more popular than ever.
Across the U.S., pet ownership jumped from 56% to 65% between 2012 and 2015. The rising popularity of family pets is creating more demand for pet-related professionals. As animals enter the homes and lives of more people, they add to the population of animal patients who need veterinary care.
Of course, veterinarians have a huge range of responsibilities: from providing routine checkups and immunizations to treating patients in emergencies to sometimes performing surgery. That can be intimidating even to the most ardent animal lovers. Add in the cost in time and tuition of going back to school to earn a degree in veterinary medicine, and an animal care job can easily seem impractical and out of reach.
Fortunately, the growing demand for animal caregivers isn’t limited to veterinarians. In fact, vets rely on a whole team of passionate professionals with a variety of training and backgrounds to care for their patients. If you are interested in animal care, but are not yet ready to commit to medical school, then becoming a certified veterinary assistant may be the perfect opportunity for you to gain exposure and experience.
What Does a Veterinary Assistant Do?
Animal Care With a Human Touch
A veterinary assistant provides help throughout the office, bouncing from the front desk to the operatory to fill in wherever you are needed. The flexibility of vet assistants is part of what enables veterinarians to focus on their patients regardless of whether the visit was an unplanned emergency or just a follow-up.
Not only do vet assistants help to keep the clinic running smoothly, but you’re also involved in educating pet owners in everything from daily pet care to proper feeding and hygiene to pet wellness tips.
For many people who bring their dogs or cats in to visit the vet, a vet assistant may be the first medical practitioner they interact with. As a veterinary assistant, you’ll be the first contact to offer words of comfort to any particularly worried pet parent as well as assure them that their pet will be in good hands with the veterinarian. For many who don’t have much experience with taking animals to the vet, you’ll be the one showing them that it’s nothing to be concerned about.
One of the most important aspects of becoming a vet assistant is taking care of the pets themselves, especially if they have to be separated from their owners overnight or even longer. Vet assistants offer care to any frightened pets by keeping them company, feeding them regularly, and allowing them a chance to stretch their legs in a safe and controlled environment.
Getting a Veterinary Assistant Job
Although you can work side-by-side with veterinarians and vet technicians, veterinary assistants aren’t required to hold a college degree to do their jobs. Working in an animal hospital requires people who are able to provide clinical care to patients as well as education and reassurance for the human families bringing the patients in. Veterinary assistants are often the bridge between these two sides of the clinic.
Certification can give you the foundation in clinical knowledge you need to keep up and provide optimal animal care. Your veterinary assistant training will take you through the basics of performing exams, handling medication and even providing first aid. If you know you love animals, but worry that the sight of blood or syringes might make you queasy, this can help you test your limits and find your confidence. You won’t be involved in the more invasive veterinary procedures like surgery, but you’ll still be able to provide critical care to incoming and recovering patients.
Studying to become a vet assistant won’t take long either. Before you know it, it’s possible you’ll find yourself in great demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 74,000 jobs in the vet assistant sector in 2014 with a 9% projected growth—meaning the market is continuing to grow. Earning your veterinary assistant certification online can help you meet this need without having to relocate or travel for school.
Becoming a vet assistant is a great first step toward a career in animal care, as you’ll immediately become crucial in keeping pets and their owners happy, safe and well-educated. By having responsibilities to both the pets and their owners, veterinary assistants get exposure to the terminology of veterinary medicine as well as the logistics of working in animal care.
Should you later decide you want to get more involved in the clinical aspects of veterinary medicine, your vet assistant certification will provide a solid foundation for you to go on to become a vet tech or even a veterinarian.
Stop Dreaming, Start Working With Animals
The career of a vet assistant carries the weight of many responsibilities. Those responsibilities require someone with a special touch and an enduring love for animals that need special care and consideration. Combining your compassion with the technical training acquired from a vet assistant program, you’ll quickly be able to go from thinking about a career with animals to making a difference.