Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Idaho
Veterinary assistants are vital members of any veterinary practice. They assist veterinarians and vet techs by performing tasks such as preparing treatment rooms, administering medications, taking vital signs, managing records, restraining animals, cleaning exam rooms, scheduling appointments, communicating with pet owners, and meeting the nutritional needs of animals in their care. Overall, the job of working as a vet assistant is a highly rewarding position that can be a career unto itself or a stepping stone to higher levels of animal healthcare.
Veterinary Assistant Education and Certification in Idaho
The state of Idaho has not set forth any specific guidelines to begin educational training or work as a veterinary assistant. However, most veterinary assistants do have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED equivalency.
Further education is not required but is recommended, as many vet assistants in Idaho pursue it. Strengthening your credentials increases your chance of obtaining a position as a vet assistant and may also increase your initial pay rate.
North Idaho College is a great place to pursue veterinary assistant training. The coursework includes a complete approach to learning all of the skills you need to know to work as a vet assistant, including veterinary medical terminology and office procedures, nursing care and radiology. Sections cover smaller companion animals, large animals and exotic animals. Upon completion of the course, students will be prepared to take the NCCB national certification exam to become a Certified Animal Care Worker (CACW). The course fee is approximately $1,995.00.
Another viable educational option is Penn Foster Career School, which has an online veterinary assistant training program. From animal behavior and animal restraint to body systems and terminology as well as a host of other subjects, you will learn everything you need to know to work as a veterinary assistant. The program can be completed in seven months, and many students are then able to undergo an eight-week externship at a local veterinary practice as part of the program. Tuition is approximately $900.00 for the entire program. A discount applies if tuition is paid in full, but monthly payments can also be made.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has also created a program in conjunction with VetMed to offer a nationally recognized Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification. AVA certification is not required to become a veterinary assistant in the state of Idaho, but pursuing AVA designation may offer more employment options and earning potential.
Working as a Veterinary Assistant in Idaho
About 430 veterinary assistants are currently employed in Idaho, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Vet assistants in the state work in a variety of settings including veterinary hospitals, universities, animal shelters and zoos. The annual mean wage for all levels of veterinary assistants in Idaho is $27,040, although wages tend to be higher in urban areas such as Boise and Caldwell, extending to $28,136 and $27,810, respectively. Entry- level positions may start out closer to $17,000.
When you are ready to pursue a position that enables you to put your love of animals into action, Idaho offers a number of reputable animal healthcare facilities where you can seek employment. Banfield Pet Hospital is a nationally recognized animal hospital with over 900 locations across the country, with two in Idaho: Banfield Boise and Banfield Meridian.
The Idaho Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) is also a great resource when looking for employment, as it aids new veterinary assistants looking for work by linking them with facilities across the state that are seeking new assistants, so you can get started working with the creatures you love.