When thinking of starting your career as a veterinary assistant in Hawaii, the first thing you need to do is to find the right training program that will teach you everything you need to know. The best program for you will fit your budget, be convenient and will be taught by industry professionals who know what you need to be successful in the position. The right class will teach you various administrative duties, how to handle equipment and chemicals, teach you animal breed information and identification, medical terminology and other procedural techniques you’ll need to know on the job.
There are a number of program options in Hawaii for you to choose from. All of them have their own selling points but the most important thing to make sure of is that the training program is properly accredited and will teach you everything to ensure you’re properly prepared to start working.
Job Criteria and Program Basics
As a veterinary assistant, you’ll be asked to perform a variety of tasks depending on where you end up working. Most assistants will work in a veterinarian office. In that position, you’ll be relied on to do everything from answering the phones and managing the records to helping with medical procedures and caring for the animals. You’ll need to be reliable, compassionate and friendly with the clients and be ready to handle anything asked of you. You can also work at other animal facilities including zoos, kennels and animal hospitals. Your duties can vary in any of those places. Luckily, your training program will prepare you to face it all without a problem.
Each course will have its own structure, so you can never really know what to expect. But there are a few rules of thumb that can help you have a better idea about the training programs. In general, a typical course can last anywhere from 100 to 300 hours that span several weeks, months or in some cases multiple semesters of school. Most courses have two sections, a class portion and a field portion where you’ll get hands-on experience. There are also online classes that usually offer the same structure in conjunction with local facilities.
As far as the cost of an average course, they can range from $1,000 to $3,000 for in-person classes and from $500 to $2,000 for online programs. Depending on the course, the fees can include books and materials but some charge separately for these things with the fee only covering enrollment.
In Hawaii, there is one specific online course offered through Hawai’I Community College in Hilo that takes just six weeks. It’s made up of two lessons each week that you can access at any time of the day until the whole course ends. The program concludes with a final exam that you need to pass in order to get a completion certificate. This course costs $145.
While the general prices might seem steep, there are more affordable options out there. More so, no matter the cost the program is well worth it since the average salary for a veterinary assistant in Hawaii is around $27,000 a year, and experienced assistants can earn more than $30,000 a year. This is actually more than the national average.
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Urban Honolulu, HI||190||$13.98||$29,070|
Some of the available training programs in Hawaii are:
- University of Hawai’i Maui College in Kahului
- Hawaii Community College in Hilo
- Windward Community College in Kane’ohe
There are also online courses available. Always compare your options to find the program that fits your needs the best.
Educational Requirements to Begin Training and Work
There are no mandatory requirements in Hawaii to become a veterinary assistant. You don’t need any specific degree, but most employers look for people with a high school diploma or its equivalent. There are also no licensing or certification requirements to start working as a veterinary assistant, but there are certifications available that can help you earn more money in your position or help you find work more easily.
Any training program will provide you with a completion certificate that shows you finished your coursework successfully and are ready to start working. There is also a nationally recognized certification you can get. This is the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certificate offered through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA). This is done by taking a NAVTA-approved course and passing the final exam. These courses are mostly found online. You must complete the course and then pay $100 to take the exam. Upon passing, you’ll receive your AVA certification and can start working anywhere in the country, since it’s a nationally recognized certificate. To keep up your certification you’ll need to take continuing education courses and pay a $10 renewal fee every two years. Again, this isn’t necessary, but it can help you ask for a higher salary or get you better job offers in more prestigious facilities.
No matter what program you choose you’ll be able to find work in different animal facilities in Hawaii. You can expect to work in places like:
- VCA University Animal Hospital in Honolulu
- VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital in Kaneohe
- Ali’I Veterinary Hospital
- Animal Clinic of Honolulu
There are, of course, local veterinarian offices, shelters and similar places where you can find work, as well.
Now that you know what you have to do to become a veterinary assistant you can start your journey by finding a training program that suits you best.