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How to Prepare for a Career as a Veterinary Assistant

Adapted from the article How to Become a Veterinary Assistant, here are five important steps when preparing for a career as a Veterinary Assistant.


Students with the professional goal of becoming a veterinary assistant may prepare while still in high school. Veterinary assistants are support staff within an animal care setting, like zoos, private veterinary practices, or research centers who provide care to animals and manage clerical duties. Students who participate in courses like: biology, chemistry, English, business mathematics, accounting, communications, physical education, and psychology prepare for future training programs as veterinary assistant. Additionally, volunteering within a veterinary office, zoo, or animal shelter may increase chances of acceptance into certificate or college level training programs.



Enrolling in a certificate training program through a trade school or community college allows students the opportunity to expand formal training to become a veterinary assistant. Students can complete a certificate program in 6 months and study courses in: animal care, interpersonal communications, accounting/billing, animal behavior, veterinary terminology, animal anatomy and physiology, animal nutrition, and emergency care preparation. Students who complete certificate programs often go on to higher degree programs to advance educational knowledge and meet the career goal of becoming a veterinary assistant. 



An associates degree accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association in veterinary technology allows students to fulfill educational and career goals. A two year associates degree program consisting of courses like who generally completed in 6 months and include courses like: animal care,becoming veterinary assistants the opportunity to succeed. Students study courses like: animal nursing, diagnostic imaging, physiology, animal terminology, animal anatomy, parasitology, animal illness and disease, interpersonal communications, pharmacology, anesthesia, surgical assisting, pet insurance, billing, accounting, and aseptic techniques. Students who complete a two year associates degree program can advance studies into a higher degree program or gain employment as a veterinary assistant upon completion of an internship or externship, and licensing requirements determined by state or facility regulations.


Students may enroll in bachelor degree programs and advance studies in courses like: animal nursing, diagnostic imaging, physiology, animal terminology, animal anatomy, veterinary biochemistry, veterinary pharmocology, anesthesia techniques, parasitology, surgical assisting, aseptic techniques, and veterinary dentistry. Completion of course work in a bachelor degree program allows individuals to advance to clinical experiences and licensing exams.
Graduates of a veterinary assistant certificate or college level training program must complete a clinical practicum, internship, or externship before advancing to licensing examinations. Students within a clinical practicum, internship, or externship gain hands on experience to apply classroom knowledge. Students generally work within laboratories, zoos, private veterinary practices, or wildlife preserves to meet clincal practicum, internship, or externship program requirements.



Licensing examinations for graduates of veterinary assistant certification or college level training programs are accredited through the American Veterinary Medical Association. Licensing examinations administered by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians allow students to demonstrate their proficiency in classroom training, clinical settings, and safety regulations to gain employment as Veterinary Assistants.

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