If you’re looking to start a career as a veterinary assistant in Connecticut, you have to start by finding the right training course to teach you the ropes. The best programs will teach you everything you need to begin working as a vet assistant from professionals in the industry. You’ll likely learn how to clean and handle the equipment in a veterinary office, how to handle chemicals and medications, animal breed information, medical terminology, administrative duties and procedural techniques, all of which you’ll need to know on the job.
There are a variety of training programs in Connecticut, each offering its own benefits. While there are a lot of options, the most important thing to note is if the program is properly accredited and will be able to teach you everything you need to begin working after completion.
Job Criteria and Program Basics
When you’re a veterinary assistant your boss and coworkers will rely on you for a lot of different things. You have to be flexible and trustworthy, as your duties can change every day without notice. Veterinary assistants are always interacting with customers and their animals too, so you have to be personable and attentive.
In general, you’ll be caring for the animals that come in, performing administrative duties like filing office records and maintaining inventory. You’ll be asked to prepare rooms for examinations and surgeries, groom the animals and perform miscellaneous duties in the front of the office as well as in the exam rooms and in the back of the office. You can also get employment in zoos, kennels, shelters, animal hospitals or with groomers, so your duties can vary depending on where you end up working. The proper program will teach you everything you need to know no matter where you end up working.
While every program is unique, and they will all have their own structure and guidelines. This means that the length, cost and general nature of a program can change from one to the next. A complete course can last anywhere from 100 to 300 hours, usually broken up over weeks or months. For example, one program is a 160-hour course that spans two semesters and includes a 60-hour internship outside of the classroom hours. Most programs are structured similarly with a classroom portion and a hands-on training portion.
In terms of cost, a veterinary assistant training program can run around $1,000 but can go up to about $3,000. One available course costs $899 with extra fees for books (around $150). There are some courses that quote a base fee that covers the course, books, uniforms and sometimes equipment and materials. Online courses are usually more affordable than on-site programs. The former can range from around $500 to $2,000.
These tuition prices might sound expensive, but they’re well worth it since the average salary for veterinary assistants in Connecticut is around $32,000 a year. This is fairly consistent across the state, although experienced assistants can earn closer to $40,000 a year. There are also new veterinary assistant jobs being reported each year, making it a growing profession in Connecticut.
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT||80||$14.65||$30,470|
|New Haven, CT||260||$23.14||$48,130|
There are a number of different veterinary assistant programs available across the state. Some of the notable ones are:
- Middlesex Connecticut Community College in Winsted
- Manchester Community College in Manchester
- Northwest Connecticut Community College in Winsted
There are also online courses you can take and other programs available through different schools. Always compare your options in terms of structure, cost and length of the course, and choose one that suits your needs best.
Educational Requirements to Begin Training and Work
There is no minimum requirement set by the state of Connecticut for veterinary assistants. Most employers, however, will usually require an employee to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. There are also no state requirements mandating veterinary assistants earn a distinct certification in order to gain employment. But each course will give you a certificate to show that you completed the program successfully.
Even though there is no requirement in Connecticut, you do have the opportunity to earn your Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). This is a distinction recognized nationally and offered through specific schools or online courses. In Connecticut, there is only one accredited program offered, through Manchester Community College.
You can take this specific course at the community college or online. When you take and pass the exam (it costs $100) you’ll receive your AVA. After that, all you need to do is renew your certification every two years by taking continuing education courses and paying a $10 fee.
An AVA certification isn’t necessary to begin working as a veterinary assistant in Connecticut, but if you do have one you can sometimes ask for a higher salary or more easily find work. You may also find that larger places like big-name animal hospitals or zoos will be more willing to hire since you have a national certification. Moreover, you’ll be able to work anywhere in the country with a nationally recognized distinction under your belt.
As soon as you finish your veterinary assistant training course through your chosen school or online course you’ll be ready to join the workforce. You can expect to find jobs in places like:
- Banfield Pet Hospital (multiple locations in Connecticut)
- Veterinary Centers of America (multiple locations in Connecticut)
- Vetco Wellness Centers in Petco (multiple locations in Connecticut)
You can also find work at your local vet offices, with grooming companies, at zoos and at local animal shelters.
Now that you know how to begin your journey, you can start to work your way toward becoming a veterinary assistant. Remember, compare programs to find one that best suits your needs.