If you’ve decided to pursue a career as a veterinary assistant in Louisiana, you have to start by finding the right training program. A proper program will be a fully accredited course taught by industry professionals who can show you the ropes.
The best programs will teach you everything from basic administrative duties to animal breed identification and information, medical terminology, procedural techniques and more things you’ll need to know on the job. Since there are many different programs available in the state as well as on the internet, you have a lot to choose from. While this can make it hard to figure out which one is best, it’s always a good idea to find a program that is properly accredited and fits your needs in terms of budget, time constraints and format.
Job Criteria and Program Basics
When you take a job as a veterinary assistant you’ll be asked to do many different tasks. You’ll be asked to interact with clients and care for their animals while also being placed in charge of most administrative duties. This includes answering phones, setting appointments, managing files and similar responsibilities. You will also be asked to help out during exams or procedures in different ways. Of course, your duties might vary even more if you work at a more unconventional facility like an animal shelter, kennel, zoo or a grooming company. Luckily, the right training program will teach you everything you need to know no matter where you end up working as a veterinary assistant.
Since there are so many different courses available, each one will differ from the next in terms of specific structure. However, there are guidelines that can help you figure out what to expect before you begin your search. For example, most courses take between 100 and 300 hours and last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. In some cases, schools will spread the course out over one or two semesters. The class is usually broken into two sections: a classroom section and hands-on fieldwork. Even the online classes tend to follow this general structure.
The price of these programs can also vary. In general, on-campus programs cost between $1,000 and $3,000, while online courses are usually cheaper, starting at around $500 and going up to $2,000. You will often incur additional fees for books and materials, but there are some programs that offer an all-inclusive tuition that covers everything. You may be able to find financial aid or other types of payment plans to help with the cost.
While the price might seem steep, the programs are worth it since veterinary assistants in Louisiana make around $23,500 a year to start. If you find work in cities like New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette you can expect to earn quite a bit more. Assistants there report earnings of around $29,000 a year.
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Baton Rouge, LA||310||$12.15||$25,270|
|New Orleans-Metairie, LA||500||$10.24||$21,300|
|Shreveport-Bossier City, LA||170||$10.88||$22,620|
To take advantage of those potential salaries, you can choose from some of these great programs:
- Delgado Community College in Slidell
- Louisiana State University Eunice
- Northshore Technical Community College in Greensburg
There are other good programs throughout the state and also online classes available. See what is available and compare them before choosing the one that fits your needs the best.
Educational Requirements to Begin Training and Work
Louisiana doesn’t have an educational requirement to be a veterinary assistant; however, most programs – especially those offered through post-secondary schools – require you to have a high school diploma or a GED. Similarly, most employers look for their assistants to have the same minimum education.
When it comes to working as a veterinary assistant, there are no state-required licenses or certifications. Any program you take, though, will offer you a certificate of completion to show that you passed the course. There is an optional certificate available, too. This is a national certification known as the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certificate. It’s offered by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) and can help improve your job prospects and even get you a higher salary in some cases.
You can earn your AVA certificate by taking a NAVTA-approved program and passing the final exam (an additional $100 is needed to take the test). Upon completion, you’ll receive your certificate and will be free to use it across the U.S. to help you gain employment in any state. Once you get your AVA you need to maintain your status by renewing it every two years. To do this, a $10 renewal fee will be required along with continuing education courses. NAVTA-approved programs can be found online through their website.
When you finish the training program of your choice you can expect to find work in places like:
- The Veterinary Centers of America (two locations in Metairie)
- Vetco Wellness Centers in Petco (multiple locations in Louisiana)
- Banfield Pet Hospital (locations in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Harvey)
You’ll be able to find work at local veterinarian offices, shelters and similar facilities throughout the state.
With this information at your disposal, you have everything you need to begin working toward your new career as a veterinary assistant. Remember to always compare your available options before choosing one specific program so you enroll in the best course for your needs.
College and University Listings
1710 Sullivan Dr, Bogalusa, Louisiana 70427Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
Northshore Technical Community College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is taught at their campus in Bogalusa in Washington County, Louisiana. Most of the school’s 3,752 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition for in-state students are in the order of $3,935 and for out-of-state students approximately $7,444 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,220, depending on the program chosen.
* Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.