Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Vermont
Veterinary assistants care for and treat animals while being supervised by a veterinarian or veterinary technician. They can most often be found working in animal hospitals or veterinary clinics. Depending on the state, however, veterinary assistants may also be found working in animal shelters, laboratories, specialty clinics, zoos and wildlife parks.
The work requirements of a veterinary assistant may vary by state. The state of Vermont does not have any specific guidelines for working as a veterinary assistant. Therefore, the employer will most likely determine their responsibilities. These duties might include sanitizing and sterilizing exam rooms and surgical equipment, cleaning, grooming, feeding and exercising animals, restraining animals, assisting veterinarians with exams and procedures, explaining procedures and treatments to pet owners, filing records, scheduling and managing appointments and answering calls. Most of these skills can be learned through hands-on training on the job, but those who have prior training or experience working with animals may have better a better chance of getting hired.
Vermont Veterinary Assistant Programs
Vermont does not have any statewide educational requirements for working as a veterinary assistant, but most employers prefer potential employees who have a high school diploma or GED. A formal veterinary assistant education program will familiarize students with the skills they will need to work with animals and give them work experience through clinical practice and externships.
Currently, there are several veterinary technician programs at colleges in Vermont, but not really any training programs as far as veterinary assisting goes. However, there are still ways to train to become a veterinary assistant if you live in Vermont. Penn Foster Career School online is an option. Their vet assistant program can be completed in as little as seven months. Tuition is approximately $900 and can be paid in monthly installments. The following coursework is covered in this program: emergency wound care, small and large animal nursing, animal behavior, handling and restraint, body systems and terminology, radiology and surgical preparation, and nutrition and physical examination. The program ends with an eight-week externship at a veterinary practice of the student’s choice.
How to Receive National Certification as an Approved Veterinary Assistant
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes colleges that have veterinary assistant programs that will qualify students to become nationally certified as an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA). It is not required that veterinary assistants working in Vermont hold national certification, but it would certainly give them leverage when looking for employment.
There are a few ways to become an AVA in Vermont. The first would be to complete a NAVTA-approved training program. Since the veterinary assisting program choices in Vermont are limited, this would have to be done online. The Penn Foster veterinary assistant program is NAVTA approved. Once the program is completed, students pay a $100 fee to take the certification test and upon passing, gain national certification.
The next option is to complete an externship. Veterinary assistants who are not currently employed can complete unpaid training under a licensed veterinarian. This would give them the experience needed to take the AVA certification test.
The final option is for those who are already employed as veterinary assistants. If they are working 20 hours a week or more in a full-service veterinary practice, they can pay to take the certification test. Once AVA certification is obtained, it must be renewed every two years by paying a $10 renewal fee. Those renewing their certification will also be required to show proof of continued education.
Finding Employment as a Veterinary Assistant in Vermont
Vermont is one of the lower states as far as veterinary assistant employment goes. There are currently only about 150 veterinary assistants working in the state. The average annual salary for Vermont vet assistants is $26,890. Salary may fluctuate by location. Veterinary assistants in the cities of Burlington, Colchester, Essex, Rutland and South Burlington have recently reported average yearly salaries of more than $29,000. Level of education, certification and work experience are also considered when determining salary potential.
When looking for employment as a veterinary assistant in Vermont, there are several animal hospitals and clinics to choose from. There are two VCA hospitals in Brattleboro and South Burlington. Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center in Rutland offers veterinary services as well as boarding and grooming. They even make house calls. Petit Brook Veterinary Clinic in Colchester offers basic veterinary services, general surgery and behavior consults.
If you love working with animals and are considering a career as a veterinary assistant, now is the time to make your move. The number of veterinary assistants employed in Vermont might be low, but employment in this profession in the state is expected to increase by 6 percent over the next 6 years.