Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Oklahoma
If you are looking to jump into a career as a veterinary assistant, you should start by finding the right training program. The best programs will teach you what you need to know from professionals who work in the veterinary field.
Since there are multiple programs available in Oklahoma, a good place to start when looking for a training program would be to find one that is properly accredited. These courses teach everything from medical terminology and procedural techniques to animal breed identification and administrative duties. With so many programs available in Oklahoma and online, there are plenty of options.
Job Criteria and Program Basics
Veterinary assistants are asked to do a lot of tasks that depend on the employer and type of facility. For example, veterinary assistants who work in a standard veterinary office will interact with clients and their pets on a daily basis. They may also be asked to do administrative tasks like managing records, answering phones and setting appointments. Other duties include having to care for the animals, prep and clean equipment and exam rooms, and assist with procedures. These duties will be the same in facilities like animal hospitals, shelters and kennels, but they may vary in places like zoos, pet spas or grooming companies.
Since veterinarian assistant programs are offered through various institutions in Oklahoma, the cost of tuition, the length of the program and coursework will vary.
A few programs to consider in Oklahoma are:
- Community Care College in Tulsa
- Murray State College in Tishomingo
- Moore Norman Technology Center in Norman
Community Care College in Tulsa features an accelerated veterinary assistant program, where students can finish in as little as 32 weeks. Classes are taught by a certified veterinary assistant and licensed veterinarian. Courses include classroom instruction and labs, clinical skills and field trips that provide the student with hands-on experience as well as networking opportunities for future employment. The veterinary assistant program at Community Care College has a 92-percent job placement rate for graduates. According to the website, tuition is approximately $14,477, and the cost of books is $309. These numbers do not include the cost of living on campus.
Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, offers a one-year veterinary assistant program consisting of two courses. The student must pass both to obtain certification. The courses teach everyday skills and nursing procedures. This program also teaches exotic animal care, which could be beneficial for those who may be considering employment in a zoo. Tuition for Murray State College is $140 per credit hour for Oklahoma state residents. The cost of books and other campus fees apply as well. There is also a $75 fee per course for the veterinary assistant program at Murray State.
Finally, Moore Norman Technology Center in Norman, Oklahoma, offers a veterinary assistant program that is only open to high school juniors and seniors from that area. The veterinary assistant program at Moore Norman is one of several high school student-specific programs that provides students with not only a certification to help find a job after graduation, but also credit hours and experience to work toward higher levels of education, such as a veterinary technician or veterinarian, if that is what the student chooses. These programs generally take four semesters to complete for part-time students and two semesters for full-time students. Students must pass a drug screening and take a CPR class prior to enrollment. The CPR class is offered at Moore Norman during the summer at no cost. Other costs for students in this program will include a TB screening, other immunizations if they are not up-to-date, black scrubs and appropriate athletic shoes, and headphones for computer programs. Students are also responsible for their transportation to and from clinical sites. The veterinary assistant program at Moore Norman has a 96-percent job placement rate for graduates.
Educational Requirements and National Certification
At present, there are no minimum education requirements in Oklahoma to become a veterinary assistant. That said, most institutions require students to have a high school diploma or a GED. Similarly, most employers want their assistants to have at least that same level of education. When it comes to working in the position, there is no state requirement for specific certifications to work as a veterinary assistant. However, training and experience will certainly help when looking for employment.
In addition to taking an accredited training program, those considering a career as a veterinary assistant may also wish to obtain national certification as an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA). This certification is not mandatory to be employed as a veterinary assistant in Oklahoma but may improve one’s chances of finding a job.
Those who are interested in becoming an AVA in Oklahoma have a few options. The first would be to complete a veterinary assistant program that is approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). There are currently 36 campus programs that are NAVTA approved. None of these campuses are located in Oklahoma; however, there are four approved online programs that students may consider. Once an approved program is completed, the student pays a $100 fee to take the certification exam. If the student passes, they receive a certificate and will then be nationally certified as an AVA.
If someone has already completed a program that is not NAVTA approved but would still like to become an AVA, they do have other choices. The first would be an externship. This option applies to veterinary assistants who are not already employed. They can complete training while working with a veterinarian at their practice. This would be an unpaid position but would give the trainee hands-on experience and enable them to take the certification exam. Veterinary assistants who are currently employed either full or part time can also take the exam. They must be working for a licensed veterinarian at least 20 hours a week to be qualified.
Once a veterinary assistant becomes an AVA in the state of Oklahoma, they must renew their certification every two years by paying a $10 renewal fee and taking continuing education courses.
Finding Work as Veterinary Assistant in Oklahoma
The Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), as well as the VETCO Wellness Centers and Vaccinations Clinics inside PETCO, are both well-known national establishments in the veterinary field and have multiple locations throughout the state of Oklahoma. In addition to these employers, veterinary assistants in Oklahoma can look for employment at other privately owned veterinary offices, clinics and animal hospitals, zoos, animal shelters and kennels.
The average hourly wage of a veterinary assistant in Oklahoma is $11.36, and the average annual salary is $23,630. Salaries of a veterinary assistant in the state of Oklahoma can range anywhere from $16,810 to $31,160 annually. However, pay rates will be determined by what kind of establishment one works for, as well as the experience and education level of the veterinary assistant. Salary also varies throughout the state. Veterinary assistants in Altus, Oklahoma, reported an annual salary of $25,082, while those in Tulsa reported an annual salary of $28,433.
The state of Oklahoma ranks in the top half of states as far as number of veterinary assistants employed statewide. Oklahoma also has a predicted growth rate of two percent over the next seven years for veterinary assistants.
With this information at your disposal, you’re fully prepared to embark on your journey to become a veterinary assistant.
College and University Listings
3921 34th St, Woodward, Oklahoma 73801Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
The Certificate program at High Plains Technology Center can be taken at their campus in Woodward in Woodward County. The college has about 262 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. The college is accredited by the Oklahoma Board of Career and Technology Education. Tuition fees are generally around $2,625 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $3,000, although this will depend on the program.
2101 N Ash, Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
The Veterinary Assistant Certificate program at Pioneer Technology Center is offered at their campus in the town of Ponca City, Oklahoma. The college has about 436 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. Tuition fees are generally around $2,625 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $816, although this will depend on the program.
7892 Highway 9, Wetumka, Oklahoma 74883-6155Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
Wes Watkins Technology Center offers various Certificate program options in Veterinary Technology. All programs are imparted at their campus in Wetumka in Hughes County. This public college has about 81 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. Tuition fees are about $5,214 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,585, depending on the program chosen.
4242 South Sheridan, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74145Veterinary Assistant – Associate Program
The Associate’s degree program at Community Care College is offered at their campus in the city of Tulsa. The college has approximately 626 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. The cost of tuition for the Vet Tech program is about $13,892 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $277. Typically, the program is completed in 8 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.