Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Florida
Working as a veterinary assistant can be a rewarding career, especially for those who love animals and want to care for them.
Vet assistants in Florida have few educational and training requirements, making it easier to enter the workforce than most other professions. The following details can help you learn more about what it takes to become a veterinary assistant in Florida.
Education & Training
There are no official educational requirements for veterinary assistants in Florida.
However, it’s still important to have the proper training and knowledge to perform your job well and provide the right care.
Vet assistants can either learn their role via on-the-job training under a veterinarian’s supervision or attend a training program.
Some high schools in Florida offer students post-secondary courses, putting younger candidates on the fast track to their careers.
You can also attend a vocational or technical school to earn your education as well as invest in further studies by obtaining your associate degree as a veterinary technician instead.
Vet Assistant Programs in Florida
Those with little to no experience in animal care should consider attending a vet assistant training program. Florida training programs are available in person on various campuses and online.
Instructors give students a comprehensive education on the daily tasks of a veterinary assistant and other information necessary to prepare them for the job.
Courses You Might Take
While attending a veterinary assistant program, the courses you may take cover topics involving:
- Emergency wound care
- Pet nutrition and prescription diets
- Animal behavior and handling
- Body systems
- Surgery and x-ray prep
- Physical examinations
- History of vet sciences and domesticated animals
- Animal diseases
- Proper medication administration
What is an Approved Veterinary Assistant?
Schools accredited by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAFTA) provide students with the opportunity to become qualified as Approved Veterinary Assistants (AVA).
To do so, students must accomplish one of the following:
- Complete an approved veterinary assistant training program and work at a full-service vet practice for 20 hours a week
- Earn experiential learning as a vet assistant already employed at a full-service practice for 20 hours a week
- Complete an externship with hands-on instruction if not currently employed at a vet practice
By meeting one of these requirements, you qualify to take the exam that allows you to earn national certification as an AVA.
To take the test through NAVTA, there is a $100 fee. AVAs must renew their certification every two years for a $10 fee and have evidence of taking 10 continuing education credits.
You might also want to look for a vet assistant training program in Florida that offers certification under the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine. These accreditations make you feel confident in your training and education.
Also, look for a program that’s affiliated with local vet facilities so they can easily connect you to the right externship.
Cost & Length of Vet Assistant Training in Florida
To attend a vet assistant school in Florida, you can expect tuition to cost under $1,000 or as high as $4,000, depending on your program.
This price usually includes supplies, books, and the cost of any certifications you might earn. Online programs are often more affordable, as well.
Vet assistant programs in Florida usually take less than a year to complete, with many schools advertising as little as seven months to become certified.
Typically, the time spent in a classroom is separate from your externship, which may last up to eight weeks.
Florida Vet Assistant Requirements
There are no educational standards or state-sponsored licensing for vet assistants in Florida. A veterinary assistant certification in Florida is also not required, but the education and training provided are crucial to the role.
Having a certification or earning your title as an AVA can also boost your chances of landing the job you want.
Often, employers have their own standards for the people they want to hire as vet assistants. For example, most clinics, hospitals, and other animal care agencies prefer to hire individuals with at least a high school diploma or GED.
They also look for candidates experienced in animal care, which you can obtain by attending a hands-on training program.
Without prior experience working as a vet assistant or inside an animal healthcare facility, you might want to try volunteering at a clinic, shelter, or humane society.
Entry-level vet assistants typically receive on-the-job training whether or not they attended a program.
Vet assistants are vital to the animal healthcare industry. They provide critical support services to veterinarians and vet technicians.
Most of their job revolves around office administration, working directly with pet owners, and hands-on work with dogs, cats, livestock, and other animals.
Often, veterinary assistants have the most contact with the animals inside a clinic or animal hospital. They play a meaningful role in the lives of pets and their owners, ensuring day-to-day operations run smoothly and clients, both human and animal, feel comforted.
They make it easier for veterinarians to perform their roles, as well, by providing important services like:
- Scheduling appointments and vaccines
- Answering phone calls
- Managing patient records
- Explaining procedures to pet owners
- Feeding, grooming, and exercising animals
- Cleaning equipment
- Assisting with aftercare
- Keeping track of inventory
- Filling prescriptions
While this work is ideal for people who feel passionate about animal welfare, it can also be emotionally and physically demanding. Assistants often must deal with sick pets and worried owners while also restraining animals when they get out of hand.
Where Do Vet Assistants in Florida Work?
Veterinary assistant jobs in Florida are available in multiple work environments. Most vet assistants work inside veterinary offices, clinics, animal hospitals, shelters, zoos, and research laboratories.
Employers may have specific requirements for different jobs involving education, training and certifications.
Vet Assistant Salaries in Florida
Vet assistants in the United States make, on average, $29,780 annually, or $14.32 hourly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average vet assistant salary in Florida is slightly higher with workers earning closer to $29,990 a year or $14.42 in hourly wages. This rate varies by experience level and location. It can also increase with the more training and certifications you possess.
How Much Do Vet Assistants Make in Florida?
The amount you earn working as a vet assistant in Florida depends on where you live and your training, education, and experience. The following city salary data illustrates how much you can earn as a vet assistant in different areas of the state:
As of May 2021, Florida has the second highest employment rate for vet assistants, with more than 6,700 employed. Nationally, the job outlook for this career is faster than most occupations with a 14% expected growth rate before 2030, which equates to about 19,800 vet assistant job openings each year across the United States.
While demand for veterinary assistant jobs in Florida is high, some individuals might be interested in similar careers. Those who still want to work with animals may look for programs in laboratory animal care, animal training, or working inside a zoo.
In vet assistant school, you learn tasks that relate to the same duties as a phlebotomist, radiology technician, or surgical technician, too.