Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Mississippi
Veterinary assistants are important employees in veterinary practices, animal hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and other settings where animals are cared for and treated. Unlike veterinary technicians, vet assistants do not have to go through a lot of schooling but still get to do hands-on work caring for animals.
A career in veterinary assisting is a great option for anyone in Mississippi who loves animals and wants an interesting job that includes handling animals, helping pet owners and working side-by-side with veterinarians. This exciting work is never boring, and the steps it takes to get there are manageable for anyone starting out in a new career or making a switch.
Where Veterinary Assistants Work in Mississippi
Most veterinary assistants in any state work in veterinary services, which means they are hired by private practices, animal hospitals and veterinary emergency centers, animal clinics, and shelters and rescues that employ veterinarians. They work with veterinarians and vet techs to assist in exams and procedures, care for animals by cleaning, exercising, and feeding, manage client appointments, file records and perform some basic veterinary tasks, such as administering medications to animals.
Assistants are needed throughout the state, from big-city animal hospitals to rural clinics, but the majority are employed in the larger cities. These include Jackson, Southaven, Hattiesburg, Gulfport and Biloxi. Large employers include Banfield Pet Hospital in Jackson and Gulfport and Animal Medical Center in Hattiesburg. Other employers include laboratories at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and the veterinary school at Mississippi State University in Starkville.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Mississippi
There are no official state requirements to become or work as a veterinary assistant in Mississippi. However, most employers in the state prefer candidates who have completed some type of animal or vet assisting training program. There are no schools in the state that currently have this program, but Penn Foster offers an online program that can be accessed from anywhere.
The Penn Foster program takes just seven months to complete but can be paced for individual students. It is also a vet assistant program that is approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). Students who have completed NAVTA-approved programs are desirable candidates for jobs because the association proves that they have learned necessary skills for working with animals in a veterinary setting.
As an additional step, graduates of this program may choose to seek AVA certification. AVA is the Approved Veterinary Assistance certification offered by NAVTA. To achieve the certification, students complete the approved educational program and then pass an NAVTA veterinary assisting exam.
The Outlook for Veterinary Assistants in Mississippi
Mississippi does not require that vet assistants be AVA certified, complete a NAVTA-approved program, or even complete any post-secondary program, but having these credentials can give you the flexibility to be hired for any veterinary assisting job in the state.
Currently, there are about 800 veterinary assistants working in Mississippi, but there is plenty of room for more. Job growth in this field is well above average growth for jobs across the country. There are expected to be thousands of new positions for qualified candidates over the next several years.
In Mississippi, the average hourly salary for veterinary assistants is $10.94, while the average annual salary is $22,760. There is a potential to earn higher salaries for those vet assistants who are certified and have more experience.
Working as a vet assistant in Mississippi is an option that does not require a lot of expensive education or much time to get started. If you want to become a vet assistant, earn a better income and do work that you truly enjoy, you could start working with veterinarians in as little as a few months.