For animal lovers, becoming a vet assistant gives you a great opportunity to work up close with all kinds of animals, from pets and farm animals to lab animals and even wild animals.
If your passion is to help animals, a vet assistant career allows you to fulfill that passion without requiring you to go to college and then continue on to four years of vet school, as veterinarians must do to get their DVM degree. You can become a vet assistant with just a high school diploma, in fact.
Let’s just get this out of the way. The worst thing about being a vet assistant is clean-up. There is so much poop, and it’s every day. And yes, you’ll get it on you. It’s inevitable.
If you work in a vet practice that deals with large animals, get ready to deal with staggering amounts of poo, crazy, amazing, copious amounts. You will literally spend some days just standing in manure, vaccinating and deworming cattle.
Fun fact about bovines: the average cow poops about 15 times a day and produces 65 pounds of poop. Pounds. 65 of them. Just think about that a second. Third grade boys weigh about 65 pounds.
The best thing about being a vet assistant? The best thing may be that there are worse things that come out of animals than poop. Blood spurts during surgery. Pus can become a projectile during certain procedures and go straight for your face. Vomit is a frequent occurrence. Yes, that will get on you, too. You learn to keep extra scrubs at the ready.
Truly, vet assistants could keep your average 6th grade boy giggling for hours with tales of bodily fluids. (Hey–if your vet assistant career doesn’t pan out, you could slay on the middle school stand-up circuit.)
A Vet Assistant’s Job Is So Much More
If you can get past the variety of bodily fluids you will encounter–and for some people that is an admittedly large hurdle–you will find that being a vet assistant provides you with lots of time with animals. In a small local vet practice, particularly, you can build a lifelong relationship with the animals that come in for care. You will find yourself there for a pup’s first wellness visit, watch her mature throughout her life, and then be there for her at the end. (And if this thought doesn’t make you tear up just a little, you may not be human.)
You should know going into it that a lot of the job will involve working with people, not just animals–and for some, that is as large a hurdle as the poop. Vet assistants often find themselves helping out at the front desk, checking in patients, making appointments, or reassuring anxious pet parents. You will often be the face of the practice. Certainly, a skilled and dependable veterinary assistant is a valued and valuable member of a veterinary practice.
As part of the job, you can learn quite a lot about veterinary procedures. You may find yourself collecting samples, helping with x-rays, and sanitizing exam rooms and operating rooms.
If you think you may want to go further with a veterinary career, consider this; some vets allow assistants to observe operations or learn to do more things. Vet assistants can get a real feel for the job and decide to go back to school to become veterinary technicians or even veterinarians. Other vet assistants get satisfaction knowing that they are helping animals right where they are.
For vet assistants, variety can be an appealing aspect of the job. You will find that each day has its own particular challenges and joys. Some days will be physically exhausting. As you lift your ninth 85-pound dog of the day onto the exam table you’ll swear someone declared a Take-Your-German Shepherd-For-A-Check-Up-Day and forgot to tell you. Some days will be very long as you may have to stay late in the evening to monitor a cat after a difficult surgery. Some days are wonderful, such as when a beloved pet that had battled cancer comes bounding in with a clean bill of health.
Vet Assisting Lets Animal Lovers Follow Their Passion
All that poop may not be for everyone, but if you can get past it, vet assisting can be a fulfilling career. You should know going in, though, that competition for jobs can be stiff. Lots of people love animals and want to work with them.
You can help your job application stand out from the crowd by earning your vet assistant certification. It will demonstrate a real knowledge of the work and your seriousness about the career.
Animal Behavior College, founded in 1998, offers an online program approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) in cooperation with AVTE (Association of Veterinary Technician Educators) as well as the CVTEA (Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities). A student who works through the course at the recommended pace should be able to complete the program in about a year.
Since you learn online, ABC allows you to work on your certification anywhere at your own pace. Former graduates of the program give the school kudos for offering students a lot of support, both during coursework and as alumni. Once coursework is completed, each student works with a local mentor. Under the mentor’s supervision, ample opportunity is provided to practice newly learned skills.
If vet assisting sounds like a career you’d enjoy, why not learn more? To speak to an ABC admissions counselor, call 800-795-3294. ABC loves helping students pursue their passion for animals.