Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Washington D.C.
To enjoy a career working with animals, you don’t have to go to school for years or spend thousands on tuition and getting certified. Veterinary assistants are professionals who provide animal care and assistance for veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians. If you love animals and live in Washington D.C., learn what it takes to become a vet assistant and what you can expect from this career.
Veterinary Assistants in Washington D.C.
A veterinary assistant in any location is someone who works under the supervision of a veterinarian or a vet tech and provides assistance, basic animal care, and administrative duties. In the District of Columbia, there are no certification or licensing requirements for vet assistants, but they are defined as anyone trained in animal care working under a veterinarian. The city government also states that a veterinary assistant can only administer drugs to an animal if trained to do so and while being supervised by a veterinarian.
In addition to these specific statements in D.C., veterinary assistants may perform a variety of duties depending on the setting and employer. They usually provide basic care for animals, such as feeding, grooming, and cleaning them. Vet assistants also help during animal examinations and procedures, and may take vital signs or weigh animals. Many also communicate with pet owners, keep files, manage appointments, and perform other administrative tasks.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in the District of Columbia
The government of Washington D.C. has not set any requirements for education or certification for veterinary assistants. If you are interested in working in this field in the city you should have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, but it is strongly recommended that you also complete a post-secondary training program.
While this kind of program is not required, it does teach the skills and knowledge that veterinarians want the vet assistants they hire to have. Programs for vet assistants usually grant certificates or diplomas and take less than a year to complete. It is possible to be hired and trained on the job, but many employers look for candidates who have already been trained to work in a veterinary setting.
Veterinary Assistant Programs in and Around D.C.
Washington D.C. is not home to any programs for veterinary assisting training, but there are options available in nearby Virginia, such as the program at Northern Virginia Career College.
Students interested in veterinary assisting may also choose to complete a program that is completely online and available anywhere, such as through Penn Foster Career School. This veterinary assistant program can be completed in seven months or less and qualifies students to become nationally certified.
National Certification for Veterinary Assistants
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has a certification program called Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA). The online Penn Foster is a NAVTA-approved program, so students who complete the coursework are qualified to take the exam to achieve AVA certification.
Those who choose non-National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America -approved programs can still qualify for the exam after completing a certain amount of hands-on work experience under a veterinarian. Certification is not required to be hired in D.C., but AVA certification does demonstrate to employers that a vet assistant has mastered certain important skills and knowledge.
American Veterinary Medical Association
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also offers certifications for veterinary assistants, but these are designed more for those who will be working in a research setting. The AVMA has an online program and test that is open to any vet assistant, regardless of their educational background or experience in the field. This certification demonstrates the ability to carry out complex tasks that are usually completed in a research veterinary setting.
The AVMA certification is not required to be hired or to work as a vet assistant in D.C., but it may give some candidates an edge over others when it comes to working with animals in scientific settings. It is important to note, however, that this certification is not accepted by all employers.
Working as a Vet Assistant in D.C.
Veterinary assistants in Washington D.C. mostly work in veterinary offices and animal hospitals, although they may also be hired by laboratories, academic institutions, or rescue groups with animal shelters. Some major employers of veterinary assistants in the city include Banfield Pet Hospitals and VCA McArthur Animal Hospital.
The outlook for careers in veterinary assisting is strong everywhere. National growth is 19 percent, much faster than average job growth. Those working in D.C. have a higher average salary, at $28,290 per year than the national average. Vet assistants may also end up earning more than this after a few years of experience on the job or depending on the employer.
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If you have always wanted to work with animals, you can easily make that dream a reality in Washington D.C. The process of becoming a vet assistant is simple and takes less than a year. With a little bit of training and some experience on the job, you can expect to be hired for any available position in the city.