Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Montana
Many people love animals, but only a few get to work with them. As a veterinary assistant in Montana you would have the opportunity to earn a good living while working hands-on with animals on a daily basis. Veterinary assistants work with veterinarians, pet owners and their pets. They make a real difference in the care of animals, helping things run smoothly in veterinary settings.
To be a veterinary assistant in Montana doesn’t require years of post-secondary education or an expensive degree. All you really need is a passion for animals and dedication to the job. It helps to get a certificate or diploma in veterinary assisting, or even national-level certification, to get hired, but it isn’t necessary.
Working in Veterinary Assisting in Montana
In Montana, a veterinary assistant is defined as anyone employed by and working under the supervision of a veterinarian licensed in the state. The state does say that an assistant cannot administer anesthesia without the veterinarian being physically present. Otherwise, the defined duties of a veterinary assistant are up to the employing veterinarian to determine.
In general, a vet assistant handles basic animal care and administrative duties, but exactly what they do depends on the veterinarian supervising and employing the assistant. Some examples of typical duties of veterinary assistants are:
- Managing customer appointments
- Taking phone calls
- Managing files and records
- Communicating with pet owners and explaining procedures and treatments
- Feeding and grooming animals
- Exercising animals
- Assisting with procedures, restraining animals
- Caring for animals after procedures
- Taking samples and managing laboratory tests
Veterinary Assistant Programs in Montana
Montana does not have any specific requirements for veterinary assistants. These animal professionals do not have to be certified or licensed, but to be a good candidate for a job and to be able to do it well, a program in veterinary assisting is recommended. These are short programs that result in a diploma or a certificate, not a degree.
One of the programs available in the state is a collaboration between the University of Montana Wester and Pima Medical Institute, located at the campus in Dillon. The program is new, with modern equipment and laboratories where students learn in a hands-on environment. It takes about nine months to complete and trains students to assist in surgeries, conduct lab tests and provide basic care for animals. The program issues a certificate to students who complete it successfully.
A shorter program is available at the University of Montana’s Helena College at the Helena campus. This program is just 24 credit hours and takes about six weeks to complete. The courses here are taught by a licensed and experienced veterinarian.
For veterinary assistants working anywhere in the U.S., the outlook for job growth is positive. The field is growing and is expected to continue to grow at a rate of 19 percent, even faster than average job growth across all industries. There are many chances, in all states, for passionate and qualified veterinary assistants to find work.
In Montana, veterinary assistants work in veterinary practices of all sizes and specialties, from rural practices that handle large farm animals to urban offices that work mostly with cats and dogs. The salaries for Montana veterinary assistants are competitive and comparable to nationwide salaries. The average hourly rate in the state is $12.94, while veterinary assistants can expect an average annual income of $26,910, with the opportunity to earn more.
When you’re ready to jumpstart your new career, whether you’re just out of high school or are changing jobs at midlife, veterinary assisting is a great choice. If you live in Montana, you have some very good options for training in this field and getting hired for an exciting career working with animals.