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How Much Does a Veterinary Assistant Make?

It’s certainly not surprising to anyone who has ever been in the United States – we Americans love our pets! A 2011-2012 survey from APPA National Pet Owners noted over 377 million pets in homes across the country. Ranging from the ordinary to the exotic, animal care is a big business and a growth industry.

One of the vital roles in animal care, particularly when it comes to all aspects of their health, is undertaken at large and small, rural and urban, veterinary practices. It might also be said that the person who is most intimately familiar with all aspects of a veterinary facility is the veterinary assistant.

Working in a private or group practice, an animal hospital or a laboratory, the veterinary assistant is an entry level position that requires a high school diploma or equivalent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median pay for veterinary assistants as of 2010 at $22,040 per year. As with nearly every position, this will vary depending on the location of the veterinary facility. A smaller, more rural practice may start out on the lower end, while a large urban veterinary hospital should chart in the top percentile.

Growth through 2020 is expected to be 14%, a percentage that is about as fast as average when compared to all professions.  With 73,200 positions in 2010 and an additional 10,400 positions expected to open through 2020, there should be a bit of variation as some veterinary assistants move onto veterinary technician positions and other potential career openings.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics rates these job opportunities as “excellent”.

While a high school diploma or GED is enough to get someone into a veterinary assistant position, there has been a rising demand for qualified personnel and subsequent programs have been developed to cover the conditions, protocols and guidelines of this demanding position.

From computer usage to medical terminology, this is one field where more information is better. Perhaps equal to hospitals for people, the sanitation and sterilization of instruments, rooms, and kennels is vital to the overall health and well being of animals. Human patients can – at least in most cases – convey verbal information as to how they feel, however, animals require a special attention to detail often not found in other arenas.

For those entering the veterinary assistant field, even a lifetime of raising and caring for animals can be augmented by some type of formal instruction. It’s an edge that can help make the difference between getting hired and struggling to find a job. With growth expected, specific knowledge of what a position entails and what is required to perform professional duties is a smart career move.

As with any profession, knowing there is a growing demand for a position makes it a much easier choice to enter. It seems there’s no shortage of pets that require care and a real demand for those choosing the role of a veterinary assistant to care for them.

Learn more about becoming a vet tech by clicking here!