With more than 10,000 people currently employed as veterinary assistants across Australia, it’s easy to see how popular this occupation is. However, it is a role often overlooked by those wishing to enter into the animal care industry, with attention more frequently afford to job titles such as veterinarians or veterinary nurses instead.

However, the role of a veterinary assistant is vital to the smooth functioning and performance of animal hospitals, clinics and laboratories. Whilst the role includes feeding, cleaning, exercising and generally monitoring the wellbeing and health of animals, it also involves practical skills such as disinfecting cages, kennels, examination and operating rooms in addition to caring for animals post-surgery.

There are a number of benefits to becoming a veterinary assistant, which should be taken into account if you are considering establishing a career in this industry or would like to develop your knowledge in this discipline.

Skills Development

As previously mentioned, the range of tasks a veterinary assistant is responsible for can be incredibly varied. Examples of these tasks can include:

  • Supporting vets and veterinary nurses

  • Interacting with animals, administering medication and updating documentations

  • Sanitising surgical environments and tools

  • Cleaning and maintaining equipment

  • Taking inventory of medications and inputting orders

  • Undertaking administrative or clerical responsibilities

  • Training owners in post-procedure care and drug administration

  • Restraining animals during treatments

  • Weighing animals and taking blood, urine and tissue samples

These tasks are frequently completed under the supervision of veterinarians, nurses, technologists or surgeons, and require the veterinary assistant to demonstrate both empathy for the animals under their care as well as level-headed practicality in more emotionally charged moments.

The opportunity to train with other such skilled individuals within this industry, being mentored and trained by experts, is one particular draw for candidates looking to work in this role. Yet there is also the added benefit of the transferrable skills developed in conjunction with executing these responsibilities.

For instance, transferable skills can include customer service knowledge, client interaction experience, reception work, administration skills, account management and sales assistance experience. Other positive attributes which can likewise be nurtured are good communication skills and attention to detail.

Animal Expertise

Any candidate considering a career in this industry will most definitely have a love for animals, yet the personalities that truly excel in this role are those with a drive to develop their education and knowledge of animal care.

The role of a veterinary assistant can provide countless opportunities for hands-on experience with animals, but it also develops a candidate’s knowledge from basic to specialised levels of expertise.

In fact, a number of veterinary assistants may choose to complete a vet assistant course prior to securing a position in this industry, in order to develop their proficiency and understanding of the more technical elements underpinning this role.

For instance, an online course for a vet assistant certification can cover topics such as common health problems, animal behaviour, signs of ill health, safety procedures, preventative health care, rehabilitation care, viral and fungal diseases and diagnostic testing.

Combining entry-level studies with volunteering can establish a solid foundation for a better overall understanding of the intricacies of animal care. To then progress into the role of a veterinary assistant will reinforce a superior command of veterinary processes, procedures, administration, animal health care and animal diseases.

Career Progression

Training to become a veterinary assistant provides both practical experience alongside the achievement of various qualifications, meaning candidates will, in turn, be able to secure higher-paying roles.

With an average annual pay range for the role of veterinary assistant falling between $44,000 and $66,000, it’s clear that this position is considered particularly skilled. Indeed, securing an entry-level position can be notably competitive if additional training is not undertaken.

Completing a vet assistant online course is again one way in which entry-level roles can be made more attainable – both within the veterinary world itself and in adjacent industries. As mentioned previously, skills acquired through study and fieldwork can help develop an individual’s performance as a veterinary assistant, yet are also transferrable in supporting candidates who are seeking positions in animal refuges and welfare organisations, pet shops, animal accommodation facilities and animal teaching institutions.

Whether you wish to work in an animal clinic and hospital, as a caretaker in an animal laboratory where you can be more involved in research, or in one of the aforementioned adjacent industries; training as a veterinary assistant can open up myriad opportunities for career diversification and progression.

Overall, becoming a veterinary assistant has many notable benefits which go far beyond the ability to spend quality time with animals – although this is an obvious advantage. Studying and training in this discipline offers both invaluable personal and professional development, with certifications available online to help make this industry accessible for individuals of all backgrounds.