If you live in Arkansas and are looking to start a career as a veterinary assistant, you have to start by finding a program that suits your needs. The best type of program will have professionals in the industry showing you the ropes and teaching you everything you need to know to launch your career. The course-based curriculum will teach you procedural techniques, how to handle equipment and chemicals, breed identification and information, medical terminology and more. Luckily, there are plenty of programs offered throughout Arkansas. Each offers their own benefits, but when choosing one best for you, be sure you pick one that is properly accredited and offers all of the necessary information that you need to successfully start your career as a veterinary assistant.
Job Criteria and Program Basics
As a veterinary assistant, expect to interact with clients and their animals on a regular basis, feed and care for the pets, prepare everything for surgical procedures and examinations, clean the equipment, maintain the records in the office, assist with medications, grooming and similar office duties. The right program will teach you how to do all of this and anything else you may need to know.
Every program is different, so the length of the course, as well as its cost, can vary from one to the next. In general, the cost of these programs can be anywhere from $500 to $1,000 and will usually take about a week or two to complete. That time usually includes the classroom portion of the program as well as an externship. The cost of the program can include materials and textbooks as well as a uniform; however, some programs might break those costs down to individual expenses.
While these programs may seem expensive, they’re worth the price, since the number of veterinary assistants in Arkansas is actually low, making it a great option for those looking for gainful employment.
Salaries for Vet Assistants
On average, vet assistants in the state earn anywhere from $20,000 a year up to around $30,000, depending on their experience level and the city in which they work. For example, larger cities like Little Rock report salaries around $26,000 a year.
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Fort Smith, AR-OK||50||$11.70||$24,340|
|Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||310||$9.62||$20,010|
There are a number of different programs available throughout Arkansas. Some of the notable schools offering training are:
- East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City
- Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff
- Petra Allied Health School in Springdale, Fort Smith and Hot Springs, Arkansas
Remember to look at the cost and length of each program as well as what it offers and how it can fit your individual preferences before choosing one.
Educational Requirements to Begin Training and Work
In Arkansas, there aren’t any educational requirements needed to start your training, so the individual programs usually create their own standards for admissions. Most of the time, a high school diploma or the equivalent is expected, but it really isn’t required as a lot of programs start accepting students as young as 16 years of age. There are even some high schools in Arkansas that offer courses through other technical schools or community colleges.
When you complete a specific training program, you’ll come away with a certificate from that specific program stating that you successfully completed it and are ready to work in the field. That’s really all you need to start working in veterinary clinics, kennels, shelters, animal hospitals, zoos or even as a dog groomer.
There is an additional certification available for those who want to go after it. This certification is called the Approved Veterinary Assistant certification (AVA). This is a national certification you can obtain by taking and completing a NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America) accredited program. You’ll need to take the program and then pass an exam in order to get this additional certification. While this certification is not necessary, people who do get it are sometimes able to ask for a higher salary or work with larger employers, like big animal hospitals. More so, since the certification is national, you will have the opportunity to move out of state and still work in your chosen field.
There are no physical locations for this type of program in Arkansas, but you can find online programs that are approved by NAVTA. The test costs an additional $100. You’ll then be required to keep your certification current by taking continuing education courses and paying renewal fees ($10) every two years.
After you complete all of your training and certifications, you can expect to work in different animal healthcare facilities like:
- Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association in Little Rock, Arkansas
- Banfield Pet Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas
- Jonesboro Family Pet Hospital in Jonesboro, Arkansas
These are, of course, just a few examples of the larger facilities that you can work for once you complete your training. There are plenty of other options in every city throughout the state.
Now that you know what you must do to become a veterinary assistant, you can find the program that’s right for you and begin your journey. Remember to consider all of your options based on the course, cost and location.