How To Become a Veterinary Assistant in Wyoming
Veterinary assistants provide care for animals while working alongside a veterinarian or veterinarian technician. They are most often found working in animal hospitals or clinics. However, depending on the state, veterinary assistants may also be found working in shelters, zoos, and wildlife parks.
Because Wyoming is an agricultural state, veterinary assistants working here have different opportunities than they would have in other states. There are at least 18 known large mammal species in Wyoming, therefore veterinary assistants who are willing and able to work with larger animals are in high demand.
A high school diploma or GED may be suggested by employers hiring a veterinary assistant in Wyoming, but there are no education requirements at this time. Most training and job skills can be learned through working the job itself. For those interested in being trained beforehand, rather than learning while on the job, enrolling in a veterinary assistant education program can provide knowledge and training that are beneficial in this career choice.
Wyoming Veterinary Assistant Programs
Veterinary assistant training programs in Wyoming are detailed and job specific. Most instructors have had experience as a veterinary assistant.
Classes focus on relevant job tasks such as but not limited to:
- medical terminology
- collecting and processing lab samples
- feeding and watering animals
- how to lift and restrain animals
- how to identify different breeds of animals
- different methods used to administer medication
- safe handling of chemicals
For aspiring veterinary assistants looking to receive educational training in Wyoming, there are a couple of options. A few Wyoming colleges offer on-campus courses, and online classes are available as well. Located in Torrington, Wyoming, Eastern Wyoming College has a veterinary aide certificate program that can be completed in two semesters (one year). Eastern Wyoming’s program includes smaller classes, so students get more hands-on training, and one of their courses focuses on working with larger animals. There are also two veterinarians and two certified veterinarian technicians on the faculty.
Northwest College, in Powell, Wyoming offers a 60-credit hour program, which takes approximately two years to complete and results in an Associate of Applied Science Degree. Tuition for both varies depending on whether the student lives in or out of state, fees, and books, and if they receive any scholarships or financial assistance.
One of the online options for veterinary assistant training in Wyoming is Animal Behavior College (ABC). The Animal Behavior College is an accredited online program. Tuition ranges from $2795-$5430, depending on the payment plan that you choose. Financial aid and scholarship options are available. There are 11 stages of coursework ending in a final exam that students work up to at their own pace.
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 NAVTA Approved Veterinary Assistants (AVA). While it is not required in Wyoming that veterinary assistants become nationally certified as AVA, it would certainly give them leverage when looking for a job.
There are 36 NAVTA-approved programs in the U.S. but at this time, no colleges in Wyoming are NAVTA approved. However, there are four online programs that are approved, and the Animal Behavior College is one of those programs.
There are a few ways to become an AVA in Wyoming. The first would be to complete a NAVTA-approved program, which would have to be done online. Once the veterinary assistant program is completed, students would then pay a $100 fee to take the certification test and gain national certification if they pass the test.
Another option is to complete an externship. Vet assistants that are not currently employed can complete training under a licensed veterinarian. They would not be employed but would receive the experience they needed to take the certification test.
The other two options are for those who are already employed as veterinary assistants. Both full-time and part-time veterinary assistants can apply to take the certification test if they are working in a full-service veterinarian practice for at least 20 hours a week.
Once Wyoming AVA certification is obtained, it must be renewed every two years. Those renewing their certification will also be required to show proof of continued education, whether through school, training, or employment, for their certification to be renewed.
American Veterinary Medical Association
(AVMA) offers courses on topics such as pharmacology, medical terminology, animal anatomy and physiology, safe handling of chemicals, and proper animal restraint. These courses are offered both online and in a classroom setting. The AVMA also provides workshops for veterinary assistants that focus on communication techniques as well as customer service skills.
Although it is not required, these courses can be of great help in gaining a job as a veterinary assistant or becoming nationally certified.
The Wyoming Veterinary Technicians Association (WVTA) offers additional courses and workshops on specific topics that are not covered by the AVMA. Courses such as laboratory procedures, animal nutrition, and surgical assisting are offered. They also hold yearly conferences for veterinary technicians and assistants to stay up-to-date on the latest research, technology, and techniques.
The Wyoming Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) also offers resources for those interested in becoming a veterinary assistant. They have job boards where employers can post open positions, information about available continuing education courses, and general information about the profession.
Finding Employment as a Veterinary Assistant in Wyoming
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage of a veterinary assistant in Wyoming is $13.79, while the average annual salary is $29,750. Because the number of veterinary assistants in Wyoming is small (between 120-420), the actual salary varies by city or town. Veterinary assistants in the cities of Gillette and Cheyenne reported average annual salaries of over $26,000, while those working in the cities of Casper, Laramie, and Rock Springs have average annual salaries of over $27,000.
One reason why the number of veterinary assistants employed in Wyoming is on the lower side is that most veterinary practices in Wyoming are privately owned. However, there has not been a decline in the number of veterinary assistants in Wyoming for several years and job opportunities are on the rise.
Therefore, if you are considering pursuing a career as a veterinary assistant in Wyoming soon, the outlook is positive. Those seeking employment as a veterinarian assistant with no training or experience may want to consider an internship or volunteering in a clinic or animal hospital to gain some experience.
College and University Listings
Northwestern Wyoming nonmetropolitan area Area
231 W 6th St, Powell, Wyoming 82435
Northwest College’s Associate program in Veterinary Assistant is offered at their campus in the town of Powell. Most of the school’s 1,652 students are in 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $2,789 and for out-of-state students approximately $6,773 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,000, although this will depend on the program.
* Tuition fees and accreditation status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with the college before applying.