Veterinary assistants must earn a high school diploma or equivalent to gain employment. Previous experience working with animals may provide assistants with additional employment opportunities.
Many veterinary assistants receive on-the-job training from animal hospitals, clinics and shelters. The length of training may depend on the facility and the services provided. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America also provides training to students who want to earn an Approved Veterinary Assistant certification.
Some employers prefer to hire assistants with previous experience working on a farm, in a pet store, or in an animal clinic or hospital. These experiences help assistants build confidence in handling animals, especially those who are scared or overly aggressive. Since these animals may bite, scratch or kick, assistants must be educated in approaching, holding and carefully handling animals. Veterinary assistants must also have customer service experience in order to explain medical procedures, care routines and maintenance instructions to pet owners.
The duties of veterinary assistants include cleaning and disinfecting cages and pet habitats, washing and feeding animals, administering medications and topical treatments, and assisting veterinarians with surgical procedures. Veterinary assistants may also provide emergency care, and collect blood and urine samples for testing. In addition, veterinary assistants clean surgical instruments, examination rooms and other areas where animals reside.