Veterinary Assistants Career in California
California has long been one of America’s largest states, both in terms of population and its economic power.
With a wide range of industries ranging from rural farms to cutting-edge media and technology companies, it is unsurprising that this state also has a vibrant veterinary-care sector.
Because many Californian’s value their companion animals, they are willing to invest in the best possible veterinary services for their pets, making becoming a veterinary assistant an excellent choice for California residents who enjoy working with animals.
This is especially true for those who are living in the Los Angeles area due to the regions high population and income levels.
In addition, the wide range of common and exotic pets in LA have resulted in a growing number of veterinary care practices, all of which need veterinary assistants.
What is a Veterinary Assistant?
A veterinary assistant is a non-licensed animal care worker who assists the veterinarian and other veterinary care professionals in the daily operations of the establishment.
In addition, some veterinary assistants, known as laboratory animal caretakers, work in labs in order to ensure that all the animals are properly cared for before, during and after any research projects.
In general, veterinary assistants carry out the following duties on the behalf of their employer:
- Veterinary assistants ensure that the animals under their care receive a balanced diet assigned by the veterinarian or veterinary technician. Depending on the animals, the assistant may be required the monitor the diet on a daily basis in order to ensure that the animal is consuming enough food to maintain its health.
- All animals require some form of exercise. Whether it is as simple as releasing a dog into a play area or as complex as riding or leading a horse in exercises, the veterinary assistant is responsible for ensuring that the animal receives adequate exercise while also ensuring that it does not over exert or otherwise injure itself.
- Safely restraining the animal during examinations and other procedures is a vital part of any assistant’s duties. Many animals can injure themselves or others if not properly restrained and veterinary assistants are trained to do so without injuring or further frightening the animal.
- Veterinary assistants sterilize and store the veterinary practice’s equipment. Because infections transmitted via improperly sterilized equipment can prove dangerous to both the animals and their caregivers, this is a vital part of the assistant’s duties.
- Finally, many veterinary assistants also work as receptionists, greeting new customers while properly filing reports and other records.
Becoming a Veterinary Assistant In CA
Although veterinary assistants do not need to be certified or licensed by California, many choose to obtain formal training in this career. In other cases, an assistant may seek to be hired by a veterinary practice which will then provide on the job training for the veterinary assistant.
However, a growing number of businesses prefer to hire individuals who already have some degree of training or experience with animals. By doing so, the employer can avoid the need to train his or her new employee before allowing the veterinary assistant to start working. In addition, some establishments demand some level of formal training as a condition of employment.
Most formal VA programs can take anywhere from several months to a year, depending on the student’s schedule and the nature of the program.
Those students who are seeking to obtain an associate’s degree in addition to completing their veterinary assistant’s program will generally take about two years to complete the program.
In addition, many programs have part-time and distance learning options for those students who are unable to attend classes on a regular schedule. This can be especially beneficial for those individuals who are currently working or who have other obligations.
For those individuals who have attended a National Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAVTA) approved program, the NAVTA also offers the approved veterinary assistant certification.
This certification proves that the veterinary assistant has demonstrated a high degree of practical and academic skill in his or her field.
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Job Opportunities in This Field
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that as of 2012 there were over 74,600 veterinary assistants and laboratory caretakers employed in America on a full or part-time basis.
In addition, the BLS estimates that by 2022, this number will have increased to at least 81,700 jobs in America. For this reason, this field remains one with excellent employment opportunities.
In addition, the BLS has determined that the current median wage for veterinary assistants is over $23,000.
This can vary depending on the region where the assistant is employed due to cost of living and other factors.
However, the top 10 percent of veterinary assistants can earn over $35,000, which is comparable or superior to most other fields with similar educational requirements.
Ultimately, becoming a veterinary assistant can be an excellent choice for those individuals seeking to enter a personally and professionally rewarding animal-care career.
Due to the continuing growth in America’s veterinary care sector, this field will continue to be attractive to individuals entering the job market for the first time as well as those seeking to transition to a more rewarding career.