How To Become a Veterinary Assistant in Minnesota
Many people find working with animals rewarding and fun, but only a handful actually get a job caring for cats, dogs, and other animals. Becoming a veterinarian or even a technician requires a lot of extra training, time, and money.
An alternative way to get into an animal-related career more quickly is to work as a veterinary assistant. These are the professionals who work with veterinarians and veterinary technicians to help them provide the best care for animals. If you have always dreamed of a career with animals, veterinary assisting is a great option, and it doesn’t take long to get there.
What Veterinary Assistants Do in Minnesota
The state of Minnesota does not regulate or define the duties of veterinary assistants. This means that what these animal professionals do on a daily basis depends on the employer. In general, veterinary assistants provide basic care for animals, such as cleaning cages, exercising, feeding, and providing comfort.
They also assist veterinarians and vet techs during examinations of animals, in administering medications, and during procedures. They may take the weights of pets before the veterinarian does an exam. Vet assistants also communicate with clients, explaining procedures and tests. They may do administrative work too, taking client appointments and answering phone calls.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Minnesota
There are no requirements across the state for becoming a veterinary assistant. Most have completed high school or received a GED, and many also choose to complete a post-secondary program in veterinary assisting. This isn’t required by the state of Minnesota, but a diploma or certificate program does not take long to complete and may be required by a hiring veterinarian.
There are a few schools in Minnesota that offer vet assistant education. One of these is Hennepin Technical College with campuses in Eden Prairie and Brooklyn Park, both suburbs of the Twin Cities. The program includes a combination of in-class learning, online learning, and hands-on experience in an internship, totaling 100 hours.
The Hennepin program is certified by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This certification in Minnesota indicates that the program has met certain standards for quality. One standard is that the program doesn’t just improve a student’s employable skills, but specifically leads to employment.
Approved Veterinary Assistant Certification
In addition to going through a training program for veterinary assisting in Minnesota, achieving national certification is a step that can help individuals land a job. The Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification is given through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
There are a couple of ways to achieve AVA certification. One is to complete a NAVTA-approved program and then pass the veterinary assistant examination. Minnesota does not have any of these programs, but an alternative is to qualify to take the exam by gaining work experience under a veterinarian. With a certain amount of hands-on experience, a veterinary assistant is able to take the exam and get certified with a passing score.
American Veterinary Medical Association
The American Veterinary Medical Association also provides certification for veterinary assistants, known as the Veterinary Assistant Certification (VAC). To qualify for this test, an individual must have completed a veterinary assistant program and have at least one year of experience working with animals in a clinical setting. The exam assesses knowledge of anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, first aid, euthanasia, and more. Passing this exam leads to the VAC designation.
Minnesota does not require veterinary assistants to be certified or registered in any way, though it is a good idea for those looking for employment. The AVA and VAC certifications demonstrate dedication to the profession and an understanding of what it takes to work with animals.
Vet Assistant Continuing Education
Continuing education is available for veterinary assistants in Minnesota. Training programs such as Hennepin Technical College offer courses and seminars that are open to all. Additionally, NAVTA offers continuing education courses online for AVA-certified Veterinary Assistants and technicians. These courses cover a variety of topics including animal behavior, nutrition, regulatory compliance, and more.
Veterinary assistants in Minnesota may also take advantage of educational opportunities with the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, which sponsors events and seminars throughout the year. Attending these courses allows veterinary assistant staff to stay on top of developments in animal care, sharpen their skills, and demonstrate their commitment to the profession.
Outlook and Salary for Minnesota Veterinary Assistants
Across the country, the opportunities for veterinary assistants are on the rise. Workers who are passionate about animals and who are able to handle and care for them are in demand in veterinary offices, veterinary schools, animal shelters, animal hospitals, zoos, and laboratories. Job growth for this career is fast everywhere. There are currently just over 1,000 veterinary assistants working in the state, but there is room for many more.
In Minnesota, there are great opportunities for veterinary assistants, especially in and around the large twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Veterinary assistants in the state have the chance to earn a very competitive salary too, with average annual pay of $35,640, much higher than the national average. That equates to an hourly average rate of $17.13, as compared to the national average of $14.32.
Veterinary Assistant Salaries in Minnesota by Region
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN||40||$9.63||$20,020|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||620||$14.66||$30,490|
The path to working as a veterinarian in Minnesota is not a difficult one. With just a few months of training, or even without it, you could have a job caring for animals in a veterinary practice or another setting. While Minnesota has no requirements for becoming a vet assistant, you can give yourself an advantage in getting hired by completing a short educational program and getting nationally certified.