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Career profile Veterinary Assistant

Also known as Animal Care Provider, Animal Caregiver, Avian Keeper, Certified Veterinary Assistant, Emergency Veterinary Assistant, Inpatient Technician Assistant, Kennel Vet Assistant (Kennel Veterinary Assistant), Research Animal Attendant, Small Animal Caretaker, Veterinarian Assistant (Vet Assistant)

Veterinary Assistant

Also known as Animal Care Provider, Animal Caregiver, Avian Keeper

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Social
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$21,570 - $41,080 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Biology
  • Administrative
Core tasks
  • Hold or restrain animals during veterinary procedures.
  • Administer anesthetics during surgery and monitor the effects on animals.
  • Monitor animals recovering from surgery and notify veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
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What does a Veterinary Assistant do?

Veterinary Assistants feed, water, and examine pets and other nonfarm animals for signs of illness, disease, or injury in laboratories and animal hospitals and clinics.

In addition, Veterinary Assistants

  • clean and disinfect cages and work areas, and sterilize laboratory and surgical equipment,
  • may provide routine postoperative care, administer medication orally or topically, or prepare samples for laboratory examination under the supervision of veterinary or laboratory animal technologists or technicians, veterinarians, or scientists.

What kind of tasks does a Veterinary Assistant perform regularly?

Veterinary Assistants are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Hold or restrain animals during veterinary procedures.
  • Monitor animals recovering from surgery and notify veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
  • Fill medication prescriptions.
  • Clean and maintain kennels, animal holding areas, examination or operating rooms, or animal loading or unloading facilities to control the spread of disease.
  • Examine animals to detect behavioral changes or clinical symptoms that could indicate illness or injury.
  • Perform routine laboratory tests or diagnostic tests, such as taking or developing x-rays.
  • Assist veterinarians in examining animals to determine the nature of illnesses or injuries.
  • Collect laboratory specimens, such as blood, urine, or feces, for testing.
  • Administer medication, immunizations, or blood plasma to animals as prescribed by veterinarians.
  • Clean, maintain, and sterilize instruments or equipment.
  • Perform office reception duties, such as scheduling appointments or helping customers.
  • Record information relating to animal genealogy, feeding schedules, appearance, behavior, or breeding.
  • Provide emergency first aid to sick or injured animals.
  • Prepare surgical equipment and pass instruments or materials to veterinarians during surgical procedures.
  • Educate or advise clients on animal health care, nutrition, or behavior problems.
  • Prepare examination or treatment rooms by stocking them with appropriate supplies.
  • Prepare feed for animals according to specific instructions, such as diet lists or schedules.
  • Provide assistance with euthanasia of animals or disposal of corpses.
  • Write reports, maintain research information, or perform clerical duties.
  • Perform hygiene-related duties, such as clipping animals' claws or cleaning and polishing teeth.
  • Perform enemas, catheterizations, ear flushes, intravenous feedings, or gavages.
  • Perform accounting duties, such as bookkeeping, billing customers for services, or maintaining inventories.
  • Exercise animals or provide them with companionship.
  • Place orders to restock inventory of hospital or laboratory supplies.
  • Sell pet food or supplies to customers.
  • Dust, spray, or bathe animals to control insect pests.

The above responsibilities are specific to Veterinary Assistants. More generally, Veterinary Assistants are involved in several broader types of activities:

Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

What is a Veterinary Assistant salary?

The median salary for a Veterinary Assistant is $29,930, and the average salary is $30,980. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Veterinary Assistant salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Veterinary Assistants earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Veterinary Assistants earn less than $21,570 per year, 25% earn less than $25,370, 75% earn less than $35,900, and 90% earn less than $41,080.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Veterinary Assistants is expected to change by 14.3%, and there should be roughly 19,800 open positions for Veterinary Assistants every year.

Median annual salary
$29,930
Typical salary range
$21,570 - $41,080
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
14.3%

What personality traits are common among Veterinary Assistants?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Veterinary Assistant are usually higher in their Realistic, Social, and Investigative interests.

Veterinary Assistants typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Veterinary Assistants typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Lastly, Veterinary Assistants typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Veterinary Assistant tend to value Relationships, Support, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Veterinary Assistants strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Veterinary Assistants strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Veterinary Assistants somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Veterinary Assistants must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, integrity, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Veterinary Assistants, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Veterinary Assistants need?

Working as a Veterinary Assistant usually requires a high school diploma.

Veterinary Assistants need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Veterinary Assistants

  • 4.0% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 23.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 27.8% completed some college coursework
  • 13.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 27.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 3.2% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.0% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Veterinary Assistants

Veterinary Assistants may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, biology, or administrative knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Veterinary Assistants might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Administrative
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Important Abilities needed by Veterinary Assistants

Veterinary Assistants must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Veterinary Assistants need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and written expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Veterinary Assistants, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Critical Skills needed by Veterinary Assistants

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Veterinary Assistants frequently use skills like active listening, critical thinking, and reading comprehension to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Veterinary Assistants, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.