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Veterinarian Assistant Training Programs and Requirements

Veterinarians usually train veterinary assistants on the job.

However, you can start through a short post-secondary training program.

If you are looking for a position with more responsibility, you can get an associate’s degree to become a veterinary technician or a bachelor’s, for a veterinary technologist.

Associate degree programs take about two years or less, while bachelor’s degree programs last for about four.

The certificate program takes about a year or less.

All these programs are offered in a traditional campus setting, but you can also take some online for better schedule flexibility.

There are no certification requirements for vet assistants, however, these options are there if you decide to get credentialed.

Typically, you need to get licensed if want to become a vet technician or technologist.

To do so, states require you to pass an exam, after which you can obtain a license, registration, or certification.

The exact credential depends on the state.

Veterinarian Assistant Certificate

Vet assistants can complete a certificate program within six to twelve months, based on the school.

Some schools have admission requirements, such as a background check or health insurance.

The programs incorporate classroom training and hands-on experience with live animals.

Some schools also offer training either partially or entirely online.

The latter isn’t as common since practicum or lab training is required.

The training provided by these programs includes:

  • Animal handling and nutrition.
  • Surgical assisting.
  • Maintaining patient records.
  • Administering medication.
  • Working with vet equipment and technology.

Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology

An Associate of Science degree program in veterinary technology teaches students various basic veterinary topics, such as animal healthcare and management.

Students study animal physiology and anatomy and may gain practical clinical experience with live animals through a local vet office.

Some of the topics of study include:

  • Animal physiology.
  • Animal anatomy.
  • Small animal breeds and behavior.
  • Large animal diseases.
  • Animal nursing.
  • Animal medicine.

Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology

The Bachelor of Science degree in veterinary technology includes a four-year curriculum.

In this program, students may take the same classes as in an associate’s degree program, such as veterinary radiology or pharmacology.

These programs can be more comprehensive.

They prepare students to assist with complicated tests and procedures.

Clinical practice at a local vet office is included in the curriculum and may be a requirement for graduation.

The topics in this course can include:

  • General pharmacology and toxicology.
  • Principles and prevention of livestock diseases.
  • Functional histology.
  • Intro to veterinary anatomy.
  • Neurobiology.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the US BLS, a median annual wage of vet assistants was $28,590, as of May 2019.

They also project the employment rates to increase by 19% through 2028, which means that 17,600 new job openings will appear.

Vet technicians and technologists made $35,320, and the employment rates should increase by 19% by 2028, which translates into around 21,100 job openings.

Continuing Education Information

While the process can be different in every state, all states require vet technicians and technologists to be credentialed in a similar way.

For vet assistants, the certification is optional.

The process usually includes written, verbal, and practical parts of the exam.

All three positions can be certified through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

To keep the certification updated, you need to pass the continuing education.

Courses, seminars, and workshops are available to veterinarian assistants and vet techs who want to stay updated on new types of equipment and treatment.

General vet conferences usually have courses and workshops related to vet assistants.

There are certificates, associate’s, and bachelor’s degree programs that are made to prepare aspiring vet assistants and techs for employment.

Vet tech needs to be credentialed by state, however, there are optional certifications for all three positions.

They require an exam and the completion of continuing education.

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