Veterinary Assistant Jobs – Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

Answering the most frequently asked questions about veterinary assistant jobs, including veterinary assistant salary & how to become a veterinary assistant.

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Veterinary Assistants with a small dog.

Here we have compiled the most important and frequently asked questions about veterinary assistant jobs from prospective students looking into joining the field of veterinary, including: 

  • What Does A Veterinary Assistant Do?
  • What Is Veterinary Assistant Salary?
  • How To Become A Veterinary Assistant In Canada?
  • How Long Is Veterinary Assistant School?
  • Where To Find The Best Veterinary Assistant Program

Let’s get started!

What Does A Veterinary Assistant Do?

Veterinary Assistants (VA) are tasked with caring for animals under the supervision of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Animal Health Technologist (AHT).

Here is a shortlist of the Veterinary Assistant jobs you may be asked to perform on a daily basis:

Veterinary Assistant Jobs include restraining animals during procedures
  • Feeding animals & monitoring their eating habits
  • Providing client education
  • Assisting with lab work
  • Cleaning, sterilizing and maintaining examination rooms, operating rooms, surgical equipment, cages and kennels
  • Restraining and comforting animals during procedures
  • Assisting with radiographs and dentistry
  • Administering and dispensing medications for pets
  • Admitting and discharging of patients- add
  • Performing certain clerical duties

What Is Veterinary Assistant Salary? 

In British Columbia, Canada, the average annual Veterinary Assistant salary was $38,271 in 2020. A veterinary assistant can make between $15.20 and $25.30 per hour, with the median being an $18.35 hourly wage.[Source]

Veterinary Assistants are employed by veterinary clinics and hospitals, including specialty and emergency clinics. You can also find positions at colleges, animal rehabilitation centers, animal control centers, and research programs. 

While most of the work is done on the premises, occasional situations that require off-site work can arise.

How To Become A Veterinary Assistant In Canada?

To become a Veterinary Assistant in Canada there is no requirement for a formal diploma or certification from an accredited educational institution.

However, many institutions offer Veterinary Assistant Diploma Programs that provide the technical knowledge and hands-on training required to build the skill set necessary to qualify for a position and thrive once you enter the job market.

If you do decide to pursue a diploma, how long is veterinary assistant school?

Generally speaking, Veterinary Assistant programs take at least 33 weeks to complete and focus on eight key areas of training: 

Veterinary team examining a dog.
  • animal behaviour & restraint
  • husbandry & nutrition
  • pharmacology 
  • animal care and nursing
  • office procedures and client relations
  • disease control and prevention
  • diagnostic imaging
  • laboratory procedures

Admission requirements are usually no more than a high school diploma and completing an admissions assessment and/or interview.

Upon completing a Veterinary Assistant diploma, you should be well versed in a wide range of veterinary procedures and care.

For many becoming a Veterinary Assistant also opens up some very intriguing career paths, including Veterinary Technologist, Veterinarian, or Zoologist.

If the administrative side is more appealing, being a Veterinary Assistant is also an excellent first step to becoming a practicing manager for veterinary clinics or hospitals.

Where Can I Find The Best Veterinary Assistant Program?

While all Veterinary Assistant Diploma Programs will cover the same general ground, you want to keep your eyes peeled for options that focus on building job-ready skills so that you can achieve success immediately after graduation.

Training should ideally focus on these three elements of the job:

  1. Veterinary duties
    These duties include understanding veterinary terminology for anatomy, physiology, and disease, in addition to understanding common surgical procedures, dental procedures, taking x-rays, laboratory testing and pharmaceuticals. This is in addition to providing all aspects of general nursing care, such as offering nutritional and supportive care, along with the safe handling and restraining of animals.
  2. Client care duties
    Demonstrating your knowledge and skills for pet owners is an equally important aspect of the veterinary assistant role. This includes discussing preventive measures, demonstrating knowledge of vaccination and parasite control procedures and clearly communicating with clientele. 
  1. Clerical duties
    Veterinary assistants are often required to perform many of the clerical duties at their clinic or hospital. That can include scheduling, record keeping, and other public relations.

Finally, the best Veterinary assistant programs provide a field placement or practicum as part of their offerings so that students can get some of the vital hands-on experience employers are always seeking.

Sprott Shaw’s Veterinary Assistant Program offers comprehensive, job-ready, hands-on training that will launch your new career in the Veterinary sector in as little as 33-weeks!

If you’re looking to learn more about becoming a Veterinary Assistant, career outlooks, job opportunities, and certifications, check out the links below:

If you want to find your passion, your purpose, and your new career as a Veterinary Assistant, we are here to help get you started!

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