Veterinary assistants are professionals who work with veterinarians and vet techs to help animals. They work in veterinarian offices, animal hospitals, clinics, zoos and any other setting where animals need care. If you love animals and want to make a difference, a career in veterinary assistance may be right for you.
Skilled assistants are in high demand across the country, including in Kentucky. It doesn’t take years of education to learn to work in this field. You can earn a diploma or certificate or even train while on the job. In Kentucky there are no specific licensing or educational requirements for vet assistants, but getting an education can give you a leg up over other candidates.
Working as a Vet Assistant
In the state of Kentucky a veterinary assistant is defined as any lay person hired by and working under a veterinarian. The duties depend on the job and the veterinarian, but most assistants can expect to do things like feed and clean up after animals, prepare exam rooms, perform administrative tasks, help schedule patients, assist with medications and help handle animals for exams, treatments, and procedures. Veterinary assistants in the state must work under the supervision of a veterinarian but are allowed to perform many duties independently.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Kentucky
The Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners describes what a veterinary assistant can and cannot do on the job, but it does not set any educational or licensing requirements. This means that a veterinarian can use his or her discretion when hiring, although they will often look for individuals with at least a high school diploma or GED.
While there are no official requirements, most veterinarians prefer to hire assistants who have had some training in working with animals. In Kentucky there is one post-secondary program in veterinary assistance at Hopkinsville Community College in Hopkinsville.
The Hopkinsville program consists of online courses taught by a licensed veterinarian. The classes teach students about basic animal nutrition and health, anatomy and veterinary care. They also include instruction in how veterinary practices are run and skills useful for doing administrative work in this setting. With an online program, students are able to work at their own pace, completing the program in as little as six weeks.
The Benefits of National Certification
To become a veterinary assistant in Kentucky, you do not need to have a special education or certification, but both can help when seeking a position with a veterinarian. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offers a type of certification for vet assistants called Approved Veterinary Assistant, or AVA.
To be certified as an AVA, you have a couple of options. One is to complete a training program approved by NAVTA and then pass the AVA examination. Kentucky does not have any of these approved post-secondary programs, but there is a second option for certification. You can train to become a vet assistant and then work for a few months. With that work experience you can qualify to take the AVA exam.
A third option is for high school students. Two of the NAVTA-approved veterinary assistant programs are vocational high school programs in Kentucky: the Locust Trace Agriscience Farm Technical High School in Lexington and Louisville Central High Magnet Career Academy in Louisville. High school students who complete one of these programs may qualify to become an AVA through NAVTA after taking and passing the examination.
Job Outlook for Vet Assistants in Kentucky
Job growth for veterinary assistants around the U.S. is very strong. In fact, positions for qualified vet assistants are growing much faster than average job growth. This means that in most places and in nearly all states there are great opportunities to get hired in this field.
In Kentucky there are currently just over 1,000 veterinary assistants employed and working in veterinary offices, colleges, research labs and animal hospitals. The average hourly rate for vet assistants in the state is $11.19, and the mean annual salary is $23,270. If you receive your training in Kentucky and achieve AVA certification, you may be able to seek opportunities and be eligible for employment in other states, especially after gaining on-the-job experience.
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Bowling Green, KY||50||$9.68||$20,130|
|Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN||360||$11.00||$22,890|
Working as a veterinary assistant can be a rewarding and enjoyable career, but it does require certain knowledge and skills. In Kentucky you can either gain those skills first-hand on the job, or you can go through a training program to make yourself more hirable. Regardless of which path you choose, finding a position as a veterinary assistant should be reasonable in this growing career field.