How To Become 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 office runs 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.
Veterinary Assistant Programs in Missouri
While there are only a few campuses in the state that offer a program for veterinary assistant training, there is an online educational training option through the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) that leads to state-level certification. The Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA) training programs are designed for staff in veterinary offices to gain valuable skills. The employer typically pays a 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.
American Veterinary Medical Association
American Veterinary Medical Association also offers certification. The Veterinary Assistant Certification Program (VACP) is designed to recognize the skills of individuals who have had training and experience in the field of veterinary assisting. There are no existing VACP programs in Missouri, but you can qualify for this certification if you have been working as a veterinary assistant for at least 1000 hours within the past five years, as verified by your employer. You also have to pass a certification exam that is offered twice annually.
By completing any of these educational and certification programs, you’ll have the knowledge and skills necessary to become a veterinary assistant in Missouri. With hard work and dedication, you can make a positive impact on animal care and use your education to help you land the job of your dreams.
Vet Assistant Continuing Education
Once you have become a certified vet assistant, continuing education is essential for keeping up with the latest developments in the field. In Missouri, several universities offer continuing education courses to help vet assistants expand their skills and knowledge. The American Veterinary Medical Association also offers online courses that can be taken at your own pace.
These courses cover topics such as animal nutrition, nutrition, and wellness for cats and dogs, veterinary medical terminology, animal anatomy, and physiology, as well as other topics related to the field. With continuing education, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry and improve your skillset.
Career as a Veterinary Assistant 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 2030, 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 the veterinary industry, from small rural practices to large urban animal hospitals and specialty clinics.
In Missouri, the average hourly rate for employed veterinary assistants is $14.02, and the average salary is $29,170. 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. Becoming 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
St. Louis, MO-IL Area
964 South Highway Drive, Fenton, Missouri 63026
The Veterinary Assistant Associate’s program at Midwest Institute can be taken at their campus in Fenton in Saint Louis County. This private, for-profit college has around 225 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is over 80%. The cost of tuition for the Vet Tech program is, as a rough guide, around $29,360 for each academic year, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,109. Program completion is normally 16 months.
* Tuition fees and accreditation status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with the 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.