Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Missouri
Veterinary assistants are very important in the veterinary field. They work with and assist both veterinarians and veterinary technicians, and have important duties to ensure animals are cared for and that offices run smoothly. If you have always wanted to work with animals, but you’re not interested in going to school for a few more years, consider becoming a veterinary assistant in Missouri.
Vet assistants work with animals and with pet owners. They do administrative work and hands-on animal care under the supervision of veterinarians. While the state of Missouri has no specific requirements for working as a vet assistant, there are plenty of opportunities for training and certification that will help you land the job of your dreams.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Missouri
You don’t have to meet any specific educational requirements to become a vet assistant in the state of Missouri, but it is generally recommended that you have at least a high school diploma or GED. While the state doesn’t list any prerequisites, individual companies or veterinarians may have minimum educational requirements, such as completion of a veterinary assistant diploma or certificate program.
Having that educational background and learned skills in animal care may just help you edge out other candidates for jobs. There are a few schools in the state that offer campus programs in veterinary assisting, including Metropolitan Community College in Blue River and Maple Woods, and the Midwest Institute in St. Louis. The programs are about 18 credits and include courses in biology, communications, veterinary terminology and animal care.
Certified Veterinary Assistants in Missouri
While there are only a few campuses in the state that offer a program for veterinary assistant training, there is an online option through the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) that leads to state-level certification. The Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA) program is designed for staff in veterinary offices to gain valuable skills. The employer typically pays the small fee for the program, which takes just a few months to complete. To earn the certification, individuals must:
- Have 90 days of experience working under a veterinarian or vet tech
- Show mastery of the materials in the course
- Demonstrate hands-on skills in animal care
- Successfully complete the certification exam
You may also want to seek national certification through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). This organization offers Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification. One way to get this certification is to complete a NAVTA-approved program. This makes you eligible to take the exam for AVA certification.
There are no NAVTA-approved programs for AVA in Missouri, but there is another path you can take to get this national certification. If you have hands-on experience working with animals, either through an internship or externship you did for your training program, or as an assistant working under a veterinarian, you can qualify to take the exam.
The Job Outlook in Missouri
In all states in the U.S., the job growth in veterinary assisting has been phenomenal. Current predictions are that jobs in this field will continue to grow at a rate of 19 percent through 2026, much faster than average job growth. The trend includes Missouri and means that if you are qualified, you have a great chance of quickly landing your choice of job as a veterinary assistant. Most vet assistants work in veterinary practices, from small rural practices to large urban animal hospitals and specialty clinics.
In Missouri the average hourly rate for veterinary assistants is $11.70, and the average annual salary is $24,350. There is potential to earn more than this for more qualified vet assistants who have achieved a level of certification, and for those with more experience. Salaries may also vary depending on the employer, with larger animal hospitals in cities generally paying more.
Veterinary Assistant Salaries in Missouri by Region
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Jefferson City, MO||170||$12.31||$25,600|
|Kansas City, MO-KS||570||$12.35||$25,680|
|St. Louis, MO-IL||870||$12.18||$25,340|
Working as a veterinary assistant is a rewarding way to spend your career, especially if you are passionate about animals. To become a vet assistant in Missouri does not require any specific education, but you have several options for training and for certification that will give you a leg up on getting your dream job.
College and University Listings
964 South Highway Drive, Fenton, Missouri 63026Veterinary Assistant – Associate Program
The Veterinary Assistant Associate’s program at Midwest Institute can be taken at their campus in Fenton in Saint Louis County. The college has about 225 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. The college’s retention rate for full-time students is 86%. Tuition fees for the Vet Tech program are generally about $29,360 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,109. The typical program completion time is 16 months.
* 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.
Missouri residents have further educational options in the neighboring states of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois. You can find vet technician programs in Missouri here.