How To Become a Veterinary Assistant in West Virginia
While veterinarians and veterinary technicians fulfill important tasks including administering medications and even surgery, veterinary assistants fulfill an equally important role in an animal healthcare setting. Vet assistants aid animal doctors and technicians in daily work by performing tasks that help them effectively treat injuries and illnesses in animals. Most veterinary assistants work in clinics or hospitals in large veterinary hospitals or private practices.
The job of a veterinary assistant is to ensure that patients and their caretakers are comfortable, safe, and well taken care of. Duties for a veterinary assistant may include:
- Administering medications under the supervision of a veterinarian
- Cleaning and prepping exam rooms
- Filling prescriptions
- Setting up lab work
- Prepping for surgery and post-op care
- Updating medical records
- Cleaning animal cages
- Making calls to clients
- Addressing the dietary needs of pets
Veterinary Assistant Education and Certification in West Virginia
The majority of veterinary assistants in West Virginia hold at minimum a high school diploma or GED equivalency, although there is no set rule that states either are required to work as a vet assistant. Although no education requirements have been set by the state of West Virginia, many people pursuing a career in veterinary assisting opt for further education to enhance their capabilities.
Several educational options are available for people interested in becoming veterinary assistants in West Virginia. From distance learning programs to educational settings on high school or college campuses, a variety of choices are at your fingertips. Most veterinary assistant programs include detailed coursework taught by instructors who are well-versed in veterinary care and teach topics including animal lifting and restraining techniques, breed identification, chemical handling safety, how to administer medication, and much more.
You can obtain certification through a training program. Each institution has its own guidelines for the completion of its vet assistant programs. Most of these programs, once completed, will award an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certificate to students. Although this distinction is not a requirement for vet assistants, holding an AVA certificate can be beneficial to vet assistants as it has the potential to help them to stand out from other veterinary assistant candidates.
When looking for a veterinary assistant campus program, you may want to consider Ross Medical Education Center in Charleston or Pierpoint Community and Technical College in Fairmont.
You can undergo a veterinary assistant program online at Penn Foster Career School, which is National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) approved. Upon completion of a NAVTA-approved program, you also have the opportunity to earn the privilege to take the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) exam to obtain certification.
Vet Assistant West Virginia Continuing Education
Continuing education is essential for veterinary assistants in West Virginia to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and best practices in the industry. Veterinary assistants have a variety of options when it comes to continuing their education, including attending seminars, conferences, workshops, or taking courses online. Keeping your certification active will require that you take additional training courses every two years.
The West Virginia Veterinary Technician Association (WVVTA) offers an array of continuing education activities for veterinary assistants. They offer webinars, seminars, and conferences which provide in-depth education on topics such as animal nutrition, pharmacology, nursing care, emergency treatment, and more.
Potential Veterinary Assistant Employers
The average salary for a veterinary assistant in West Virginia is $26,540 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, location can play a role in pay scale. In Morgantown, Charleston, and Wheeling, for instance, veterinary assistants have been reported to earn higher salaries, reaching over $26,000 annually, possibly because these areas house more pet owners.
When you are ready to pursue employment doing what you love, the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (WVVMA) is available to help veterinary assistants locate new jobs. You may also want to make contact with some of the leading national veterinary hospitals, such as the Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), which has three locations in the state: Cheat Lake Animal Hospital in Morgantown, Valley West Veterinary Hospital in Charleston, and Town and Country Animal Hospital in Wheeling.