Becoming an Veterinary Assistant in Wisconsin
If you love animals, a career as a veterinary assistant will give you the opportunity to earn a living while also doing something you enjoy. Veterinary assistants administer care to animals alongside veterinarians and veterinary technicians. They are most often the ones in charge of feeding, grooming and exercising the animals, as well as restraining them during surgical procedures and preparing the equipment and exam rooms for these procedures. Additionally, a veterinary assistant will also perform administrative duties such as managing files and records, answering phone calls, scheduling appointments and communicating with pet owners. Wisconsin does not have any state requirements as far as what specific duties a veterinary assistant has, so these will vary by employer.
There are also not any specific statewide education requirements for working as a veterinary assistant in Wisconsin. But most Wisconsin animal hospitals require that employees have a high school diploma or equivalent. Many prefer formal veterinary assistant training. Some require at least one year of experience working in some type of veterinary setting. Furthermore, since administrative tasks will be one of the responsibilities of a vet assistant, some employers prefer potential employees who have experience working in customer service.
Veterinary Assistant Programs in Wisconsin
It is not required for someone seeking a job as a veterinary assistant to complete a training program or become certified in veterinary assisting, but it is recommended. These programs will give students the skills, knowledge and clinical experience needed to make them more desirable to hire as a veterinary assistant. There are a couple of Wisconsin colleges that offer these programs.
Milwaukee Career College in Milwaukee has a veterinary assisting program that lasts approximately 30 weeks. The total cost of this program is $17,000, which includes tuition, books and fees. Students in this program get to work with large cattle at a local farm, Cozy Nook Farms, as part of their training. The Milwaukee Career College veterinary assistant certificate program has an 85-percent employment rate for graduates.
Gateway Technical College is another choice for Wisconsin residents. The Elkhorn campus offers a 48-week veterinary assistant program that consists of 36 credit hours and includes clinical training. This program costs approximately $8,000 and includes tuition and books. For students wishing to continue their education at Gateway Tech and pursue a veterinary technician degree, the credits from the veterinary assistant program count towards that.
Another option is Penn Foster Career School, which is an online program. This program teaches basic veterinary skills and terminology and ends with an eight-week externship that students can do at a local veterinary practice. The entire program can be completed in as little as seven months, and the cost of tuition is $900.00. Tuition can be paid monthly or in full at the time of registration.
Veterinary assistants working in Wisconsin may also consider getting nationally certified through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). NAVTA recognizes certain veterinary assisting programs and offers the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification for graduates of these programs. There are no NAVTA-approved veterinary assistant programs in Wisconsin at this time, but the Penn Foster Career online program is approved. Students that have completed this program can then pay $100 to take the AVA certification exam.
For veterinary assistants who have not completed a NAVTA-approved program, work experience either through volunteering, an externship or employment of more than 20 hours a week will qualify them to take the exam. Certification does need to be renewed every two years to keep your standing as an AVA.
Career Outlook for Veterinary Assistants in Wisconsin
Currently, there are about 1,560 vet assistants employed in Wisconsin, but that number is expected to grow by at least four percent by the year 2024. The average annual salary for Wisconsin veterinary assistants is $26,270, but there is the potential to earn more with experience and certification. In Eau Claire, veterinary assistants make $27,000 annually. Those in the cities of Appleton, Green Bay and Osh Kosh make more than $28,000. And veterinary assistants in six cities, including Madison, Milwaukee and Waukesha, have all reported making an average of more than $29,000 a year.
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Green Bay, WI||**||$11.57||$24,060|
|La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN||40||$9.63||$20,020|
|Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI||360||$14.26||$29,670|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||620||$14.66||$30,490|
Veterinary assistants can be found working in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, shelters and specialty clinics. Because Wisconsin is a highly successful dairy farming state, this opens other opportunities for veterinary assistants in this area.
There are several places to consider when looking for a veterinary assistant job in Wisconsin. The Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) have over 750 hospitals across the nation including locations in Onalaska, Saukville, Waukesha, Wausau and West Allis, Wisconsin.
Banfield Pet Hospitals are located inside of some Pet Smart stores across the United States. Two Pet Smart stores in Madison, Wisconsin, house Banfield hospitals. Also, many PETCO stores have animal vaccination and wellness clinics in them which are called VETCO clinics. There are 19 VETCO clinics in the state, including locations in the cities of Green Bay, Waukesha and West Bend.
There are also various privately owned veterinary offices, clinics, smaller animal hospitals and shelters throughout the state to consider. If you are having a hard time finding work because you lack experience, you may want to also consider volunteering or taking an internship in a veterinary hospital, or even working as a kennel attendant or with an animal groomer to gain work experience.
College and University Listings
3077 N Mayfair Rd Ste 300, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53222Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program
The Certificate program at Milwaukee Career College is taught at their campus in Milwaukee in Milwaukee County. Most of the school’s 92 students are on 2-year programs. Tuition fees for the Vet Tech program are, as a rough guide, about $15,392 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $608. Program completion is normally 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.