Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Maryland
Like physicians, veterinarians rely on a team of caregivers to support their work. Included on their teams are veterinary technicians who perform routine tests and examinations, and veterinary assistants help both the veterinarian and vet tech with less demanding clinical roles. The roles of these invaluable assistants include preparing the operating room, sterilizing instruments and non-clinical care such as exercising, feeding and cleaning animals. If you have a passion for animal welfare, the job of veterinary assistant may suit you well.
Maryland has a higher population of veterinary assistants in comparison to other similar-sized states, and the numbers are climbing. This is promising if you are interested in becoming a veterinary assistant, because more veterinary clinics and animal hospitals will be on the hunt for qualified veterinary assistants.
Maryland Veterinary Assistant Requirements
Most animal healthcare facilities in Maryland are stringent when considering applicants for the position of veterinary assistant. Although Maryland has not set forth any formal requirements to work as a veterinary assistant, previous training and/or education play a large part in your chances of being hired.
Most vet assistants in Maryland have a high school diploma or GED equivalency at minimum, while many opt to attend training programs to refine their capabilities, making them more suitable for hire. Training programs can be found at adult learning centers, community colleges and other educational institutions across the state of Maryland.
For veterinary assistant training on campus, you may want to consider Montgomery College’s Veterinary Assistant Training Program, which is approved by the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association as a formal training program for people who assist veterinary technicians and veterinarians. The program, which is offered on campus in Gaithersburg, includes five non-credit courses. Each of the five courses includes supervised clinical practicum and totals 150 hours of training. Through this course, you will learn all of the basic skills you need to know to begin entry-level work at an animal hospital. Once you complete all five courses, you will receive a Continuing Education Certificate.
If you are not certain whether veterinary assisting is the career path for you, you may want to take an online introductory course through Howard Community College in Columbia. Through this course, you will learn about pet nutrition, vaccinations and parasite prevention.
You may also want to become a Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) to increase your employability. Many veterinary assistants who have an AVA distinction receive higher pay and find jobs more easily. To obtain AVA certification, you must undergo training through a program approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). Maryland offers such programs at Carroll Community College in Westminster, and Harford Community College in Bel Air. Upon completion of the AVA exam, you will receive a certificate specifying your AVA designation.
Finding Work as a Veterinary Assistant in Maryland
Once you are confident you’re ready to begin work as a Maryland veterinary assistant, it’s time to look for employment at any of a number of veterinary practices and pet hospitals in the state. The Maryland Veterinary Medical Association is a great place to start, as this association works to connect vet assistants with prospective employers.
More specifically, some potential places to look for employment as a vet assistant in Maryland include:
- Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) locations including VCA Peachtree Animal Hospital in Bealsville, VCA Eklton Animal Hospital in Elkton, VCA Columbia Animal Hospital at Hickory Ridge in Columbia, or VCA South Arundel Animal Hospital
- Vetco Wellness Centers and Vaccination Clinics inside PETCO stores found in Landover, Annapolis, Sykesville and Baltimore.
- Banfield Pet Hospital locations such as those in Hagerstown, Largo or Annapolis
- Emergency Animal Hospital of Ellicott City
- Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Rockville
College and University Listings
687 Mosser Road, McHenry, Maryland 21541
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
Garrett College’s Certificate program in Veterinary Assistant is taught at their campus in McHenry in Garrett County. The college has in the order of 713 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The cost of tuition for in-district students is usually in the order of $3,584 and are $7,000 and $8,120 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,400, although this will vary with the program.
* 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.