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What Is a Veterinary Assistant and How to Become One

Veterinary Assistant

What Do Veterinary Assistants Do?

Veterinary Assistants, or vet assistants, help Veterinarians and Veterinarian Technicians in animal care hospitals, animal clinics, or other veterinary facilities. As a Veterinary Assistant, you feed, bathe, and exercise animals in your care. Veterinarian Assistants also restrain animals when the vet examines or treats them. Other job duties may include greeting pet owners when they enter the office, organizing files, and cleaning and sterilizing equipment. Some Veterinary Assistant positions require you to perform lab work, such as collecting urine samples from animals, drawing blood, and administering medication under the supervision of the primary veterinarian or technician.

What Is the Difference Between a Veterinary Tech and a Veterinary Assistant?

Veterinary Technicians are required to complete a two-year program at an accredited college or technical school, earn an associate degree, and pass a credentialing exam. They work directly with the patient in the animal hospital, equipped to sterilize and bandage wounds, administer oral medications, and prep patients for surgery. Additionally, a Vet Tech is trained in laboratory work, such as blood analysis, urinalysis, and parasite identification. In contrast, Veterinary Assistants are required to hold a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the field, but no higher degree than that is necessary. Their duties are less hands-on and more administrative.

Do You Have to Have a Degree to Be a Vet Tech?

Veterinary Technicians must hold an associate degree from an accredited school. Accreditation should come from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Vet Techs are also required to pass a credentialing exam before they are considered eligible for employment.

Veterinary Assistant Job Description Sample

With this Veterinary Assistant job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Veterinary Assistant role.

Job Summary

We are looking for a compassionate Veterinary Assistant to support our veterinarian in providing excellent care to our patients. You will be responsible for assisting veterinary staff in examining and monitoring animal patients, performing administrative tasks, and maintaining clean and sanitary conditions in the exam and operating rooms. Our ideal candidate is willing to learn new skills and develop their talents as an assistant. You must have a passion for caring for animals and excellent customer service skills.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Care for animals by bathing, feeding, watering, and exercising
  • Assist in holding and restraining animals during exams and surgical procedures
  • Clean and sterilize instruments, equipment, and tools
  • Ensure exam and operating rooms are stocked and sterilized
  • Change animal bandages, bedding, and kennel materials
  • Ensure all cages and kennels are clean
  • Administer medications
  • Assist in collecting samples such as blood or urine for testing
  • Communicate with owners and families on surgery and recovery instructions
  • Perform administrative duties such as updating files and processing payments

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent; associate degree or course credit in veterinary technology or animal science from an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited program a plus
  • 1+ years of experience in animal care or in a clinic preferred
  • Able to multitask, prioritize, and manage time efficiently
  • Basic understanding of animal behavior and health care
  • Passion for working with animals and their owners
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel)
  • Attention to detail in order to maintain accurate patient records
  • Physical ability to restrain larger pets when necessary
  • Able to work nights, weekends, extended hours, and holidays