Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Maine
Veterinary assistants play a very important role in animal care. They provide some of the most basic care for animals in veterinary offices, laboratories and zoos, including comfort, food, exercise and clean accommodations. Assistants are also vital in helping veterinarians and vet techs provide more advanced health care for animals.
If working with animals is something you have always dreamed of, but you’re not sure you have the time or money to complete a veterinary technician program right now, consider working as a vet assistant. You can work hands-on with animals after completing just a few months of courses. You may even be able to get a job right out of high school in Maine, where there are no licensing or educational prerequisites for being a veterinary assistant.
Working as a Veterinary Assistant in Maine
A veterinary assistant may have a range of duties depending on the job and employer. Typical responsibilities include managing client calls and appointments, providing general care for animals, such as bathing, feeding and exercising, and assisting vets and technicians during exams, procedures and diagnostic tests.
In the state of Maine the definition of a veterinary assistant is anyone working in a veterinary facility who is not licensed but who assists a veterinarian or technician. The state requires assistants to work under direct supervision of a veterinarian or licensed technician. When supervised they are allowed to perform many animal care duties, excluding diagnosing, performing surgery or prescribing any treatment.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Maine
There are no specific requirements in the state for becoming a veterinary assistant, which means that you do not have to complete a specific educational program or seek any kind of licensing or certification. It does help, however, to have training in veterinary assisting when looking for a position. Veterinarians are more likely to hire assistants who have had some related education, either through a high school vocational program or a community or technical college.
Veterinary Assistant Programs in Maine
Some of the available post-secondary programs in Maine are at:
- Southern Maine Community College in South Portland
- Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield
- Kittery Adult Education in Dover Foxcroft
These programs generally take only a few months to complete and will give you some of the basic skills and knowledge you need to work under a veterinarian, such as animal anatomy, care and health.
How to Get National Certification
Maine does not have requirements for veterinary assistants, but there are important benefits to gaining certification through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). The organization offers a national certification called Approved Veterinary Assistants (AVA). AVA certification demonstrates that you have knowledge and experience working with animals and can help you get the job you want.
There are three different pathways to getting AVA certification. One is to complete a veterinary assistant educational program approved by NAVTA and then to pass the examination. These programs are not available in every state, but there are other options for certification.
You can also get certified if you are a high school student. There are vocational program designated just for students to complete alongside normal high school coursework. After successfully finishing this program, you will be eligible to take and pass the NAVTA exam for AVA certification.
If you are not still in high school, there is still one more option. With at least a few months of work experience in a veterinary office or similar setting working as an assistant, you may qualify to take the exam. If you pass it you will be granted AVA certification. This certification acknowledges that you are trained and experienced in working as a veterinary assistant.
Career Outlook for Veterinary Assistants in Maine
The outlook for trained professionals in veterinary assisting is positive. Around the country the field is growing much faster than average job growth, with thousands of new jobs expected to be available over the coming years.
In Maine, which is not a very populous state, there are currently just under 600 veterinary assistants employed, and that number is expected to rise. The salary for assistants in Maine is among the highest in the country. The annual average salary in the U.S. is $25,250, but in Maine the average salary is nearly $33,000.
Veterinary Assistant Salaries in Maine by Region
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Portland-South Portland, ME||60||$14.73||$30,630|
Veterinary assisting is a growing career, and it is a field that is not difficult to enter. While an education may not technically be required in Maine, it is recommended because it will give you the foundational skills and knowledge you need to do the job well. With just a few months of coursework you could be prepared to land a great job working with and caring for animals.