Veterinary assistants are critical personnel at almost every animal hospital, clinic and animal shelter in the country.
Working closely with veterinarians and veterinarian technicians, the veterinary assistant performs a variety of tasks, from meeting with customers at the front desk, answering the phone, assisting in surgery, drawing blood, keeping records and doing paperwork, and more. In some cases they even take on the duties of veterinary technicians, and at some facilities the two jobs are almost interchangeable.
The veterinary assistant is typically in charge of feeding, bathing, grooming and exercising the animals in their care. The vet assistant is also a familiar figure to the pet owner, as this is usually the first person they see when they enter the clinic or veterinary office.
Because people these days treat their pets as family members, they want to be reassured that their dog or cat will be well cared for. The friendliness and competence of the veterinary assistant is often a deciding factor in the pet owners choice of a veterinary hospital or office.
While the job of veterinary assistant usually isn’t a high-paying one, it can open doors into the animal care industry. A job as an assistant at an animal clinic or hospital is an excellent start for the student who wants to work while gaining experience and further education in animal care or technology.
About the job
Veterinary assistants may take on the role of clerk at times, but they typically do far more than just answer the phone and greet owners and pets. They have a multifaceted job that may include billing, record-keeping, taking inventory, feeding and grooming pets, assisting the veterinarians and technicians, and more.
Because of all these duties, this can make for a hectic workday, especially at busy clinics and hospitals. There can also be odd hours and work schedules. Just like workers in the human health care industry, veterinary staff are expected to be available to treat sick or injured pets on a 24/7 basis, especially at animal hospitals that offer emergency services.
This can also be emotionally stressful work at times, especially for animal lovers. Many pets that are brought into clinics are in poor physical condition, badly injured, or are terminally ill. The reality that many of these animals have to be euthanized can be hard to take for some, and this is just another factor of the job that needs to be considered.
Training and certification
The veterinary assistant need not take courses beyond high school or GED to qualify for this position. However, a lot of skills and some knowledge of animals are helpful. And good customer service skills are a must.
Starting salaries are generally of minimum wage. They do not rise steeply, and even with years of experience, one cannot expect to earn a great deal of money in this job. Many that Neri assistance, however, add veterinary technology to their list of qualifications, and while still performing their duties as assistance, they also work with animal patients. This results in higher pay down the road.