How To Become a Veterinary Assistant in South Carolina
Have you always loved animals? Do you live in South Carolina and want to switch to a more rewarding career, doing something you’re passionate about? If you answer yes to both, consider a new career in veterinary assisting.
This career allows you to work with animals every single day on the job. And the training and education needed to land a job in this field is minimal. No post-secondary program is actually required to become a vet assistant in South Carolina, but if you choose to complete a course, it will take you just a few months and is very affordable.
Working as a Vet Assistant in South Carolina
The state of South Carolina defines a veterinary assistant or aide as any employee working with a veterinarian, who is not a licensed veterinary technician. Although the duties of a vet assistant may vary by employer, the state is very specific about what these animal professionals can and cannot do. With immediate supervision, veterinary assistants may:
- Provide surgical assistance
- Administer anesthesia
- Collect urine and blood samples
- Prepare and administer blood transfusions
- Apply splints for broken bones
Under direct, but not immediate, supervision, South Carolina veterinary assistants can collect skin samples from animals, care for animals coming out of anesthesia, perform some dental procedures, place catheters, and administer treatments and medications.
In addition to these duties that are specified with certain levels of supervision, veterinary assistants may also do administrative work and communicate with pet owners. They may also provide basic animal care, such as feeding and grooming.
Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in South Carolina
Although the state has a specific definition of what a vet assistant is and what these animal caregivers may do on the job, there are no educational or certification, or licensing requirements; however, it is best to have at least a high school diploma or a GED in order to get hired for a position as a vet assistant.
It also helps in getting hired to have some training in veterinary assisting, though this is not required. Many veterinarians may give preference to candidates who have completed a diploma or certificate program. South Carolina has a few such programs for veterinary assistants at technical colleges.
Veterinary assistant programs are short, cost-effective, and usually confer a diploma or certificate. For example, Midlands Technical College in Columbia offers a 36-hour veterinary assistant certificate program that costs just $839. The courses teach students veterinary terminology, laboratory procedures, basic animal care, and administrative skills.
National Veterinary Assistant Certification
In addition to completing a certificate program in veterinary assisting, achieving national certification will give you an edge in finding and landing the perfect job working with animals. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offers Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification. The standard path to getting AVA certified is to complete an educational program approved by NAVTA and then pass the certification exam.
There are no NAVTA-approved AVA programs in South Carolina currently, but there is another option for getting certified in the state. If you complete any training program and get a certain amount of hands-on work experience, such as through a job in a veterinary office or an externship, you can qualify to take the certification exam.
Job Outlook for Vet Assistants
Good veterinary assistants are in high demand everywhere. In South Carolina, veterinary practices, animal hospitals, veterinary emergency centers, and specialty hospitals hire and employ dedicated vet assistants. Larger cities like Greenville, Charleston, and Columbia offer the most opportunities. Across the country and in South Carolina, jobs for vet assistants are growing in number and are expected to continue to increase.
The average salary for veterinary assistants in South Carolina is comparable to the national average: $14.96 per hour or $31,110 per year. Entry-level assistants may earn less initially, but there is room for greater earnings with more experience and education. Gaining experience as a veterinary assistant is also a great way to work towards becoming a licensed veterinary technician and earning even more.
Becoming a veterinary assistant in South Carolina does not require a lot of expensive training. In fact, it doesn’t require any education beyond high school. If you are interested in this career, it is a good idea to complete a short training program and consider becoming nationally certified to help land the best job.