Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Utah
Opening the door to a career as a veterinary assistant is an excellent option if you envision yourself working with animals. The job of a veterinary assistant is a rewarding entry-level position in the animal healthcare field. To begin your journey on this career path, you must decide whether you want to pursue further training and education.
Roles of Utah Veterinary Assistants
The roles of veterinary assistants in Utah are vital for smooth-functioning animal care in veterinary hospitals and clinics. Vet assistants primarily assist veterinarians or veterinary technicians in the day-to-day duties of caring for animals in need. Responsibilities may vary depending on the location and services offered by different animal healthcare facilities. Many veterinary locations in Utah offer services including pet vaccinations, anesthesia, boarding and kennel care, grooming, microchipping, pain management and more. Some duties of veterinary assistants in Utah may include:
- Feeding animals
- Scheduling appointments
- Interacting with pets and their owners
- Sanitizing veterinary equipment
- Pre- and post-surgery prep and cleanup
- Animal restraint
- Administering medications under supervision of veterinarian or vet tech
- Inventory control
- Documenting medical records of patients
Utah Veterinary Assistant Education and Certification
Utah has no minimum education requirements to work as a veterinary assistant, yet the majority of working vet assistants hold a high school diploma or GED equivalency at minimum. Many veterinary assistants opt for training before looking for work. Training programs focus on all that prospective vet assistants need to know in order to work in animal healthcare facilities. In Utah, you can receive training on campus or online through distance- learning programs.
One school you may wish to consider for campus courses is the University of Utah. This institution offers a comprehensive veterinary assistant program, which will prepare you with courses like communication and client relations, small and large animal nursing, examination room procedures, and radiology and ultrasound imaging. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a University of Utah Veterinary Assistant Certificate.
If you prefer to pursue training online, Salt Lake Community College offers an online career training program for prospective veterinary assistants. You will receive the expertise needed to work in a veterinary hospital, which is beneficial for both those who want to work as a veterinary assistant in the future as well as those who are already employed but want to brush up on their skills and add to their repertoire.
Although the number of veterinary assistants in the state of Utah is small, the field is rapidly growing, faster than any other state, which means the field may become competitive. Because of this, additional certification may be to your benefit when looking for employment as a veterinary assistant. Many employers looking for people to fill vet assistant roles will bump those with certifications to the top of their list.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), who teamed up with VetMed, created the first veterinary assistant approval program, known as AVA or the Approved Veterinary Assistant program. To receive your AVA designation in Utah, you must meet a few qualifications and must choose from one of the approved available options for certification. These approved options include:
- An externship option for individuals who are looking for work as veterinary assistants but do not currently hold a position in the field. Most people will undergo hands-on training, which is valuable when entering any career field.
- An Experiential Learner option is available to those currently employed as vet assistants in Utah and working less than 20 hours per week at a veterinary practice.
- The Veterinary Assistant Program is the final option and is suitable for those who work over 20 hours per week as veterinary assistants at a veterinary practice.
If you meet any of the above criteria, you may take the AVA exam that corresponds to the level at which you seek to obtain certification. Once you pass the exam, you will be presented a certificate, which will certify you as an approved Utah veterinary assistant. Keep in mind that you need to renew your AVA certification every two years to stay current.
Working as a Utah Veterinary Assistant
Veterinary assistants in Utah earn an average salary of $21,320 each year. Earning potential often exceeds this in metropolitan areas such as Salt Lake City, Provo and Orem. The salary of veterinary assistants can vary depending on several factors, including training, experience and certification, as well as the type of facility.
The veterinary assistant profession is projected to grow over the next seven years. Record numbers of growth are anticipated in the field, with a near 10-percent job growth among vet assistants alone, which may also drive up annual salaries.
A career as a veterinary assistant will be rewarding for anyone who has a passion for animals. This role can also become the first step toward becoming a veterinary technician through both experience and ongoing education, which could eventually advance you into the role of veterinarian.
College and University Listings
1301 North 600 West, Logan, Utah 84321Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
Bridgerland Applied Technology College’s Certificate program is offered at their campus in the city of Logan. This public college has approximately 751 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees are around $2,503 per year. Books and supplies can cost in the order of $1,427, depending on the program chosen.
* 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.