How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Pennsylvania
Training for veterinary assistant jobs in PA can be a rewarding career choice for people who are passionate about animals and interested in the medical field.
Veterinarian assistants play a vital role in the care and treatment of animals, working alongside veterinarians to ensure that animals receive the best possible care.
Education and Training
There is no official education or training requirement for veterinarian assistants in Pennsylvania other than a high school diploma, and many workers receive on-the-job training.
Earning a Certification
However, completing a veterinary assistant program and obtaining certification can boost job candidates’ chances of working with a clinic, vet hospital, or laboratory.
Attending a Veterinary Assistant Program
Enrolling in a veterinary assistant program at a trade school or community college is a cost-effective way to gain the training necessary for certification and employment.
How Long Does It Take?
Vet assistant programs typically take between six months and one year to complete and cover topics such as animal anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and basic nursing skills.
Pennsylvania Veterinary Assistant Requirements
There are two popular certifications for this field. Students who graduate from a National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) approved veterinary assistant school in PA can take an exam to earn the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation.
An Additional Certification Option
Job seekers with laboratory animal work experience can also become certified through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) and progress through three levels of certification: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG).
Veterinary Assistant Salaries in PA
On average, veterinary assistants in Pennsylvania earn $30,690 annually or about $14.24 per hour.
Average Salary by City
- Pittsburgh: $31,879
- Philadelphia: $31,879
- Allentown: $32,617
- Reading: $32,196
Working at a university research lab can increase wages to around $19.00 hourly, and certifications and further education as a veterinary technician can boost job candidates’ earnings.
Vet assistants work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and may be responsible for administering medications, performing routine lab tests, helping with surgeries and other duties.
What Do They Do?
Some specific tasks that veterinary assistants perform often include:
- Providing basic animal care, such as feeding, watering, and cleaning their living areas.
- Assisting with examining and treating small and large animals, including taking vital signs, administering medication, and performing basic laboratory tests.
- Maintaining medical records and other documentation.
- Answering phones and scheduling appointments for clients.
- Assisting with surgery prep and supporting the veterinarian during procedures.
- Educating clients on the proper pet care and treatment.
- Assisting with facility maintenance, including cleaning and sterilizing equipment and instruments.
Other Skills Needed
In addition to technical skills, veterinarian assistants should also have strong communication skills and a compassionate and caring attitude, as they will interact with both animals and their owners regularly.
The demand for qualified veterinary assistants is expected to increase by 19% over the next ten years, which is higher than most occupations. Around 23,000 job positions should become available yearly over the next decade as workers transition to new roles and others retire from the field.
While on-the-job training can get you a veterinary assistant job in PA, attending a program can fast-track your career and lead to certifications that employers may prefer or even require. With an excellent career outlook and job availability, becoming a veterinary assistant is a smart choice for the future.