What do Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers do?
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers provide assistance to veterinarians and care to animals under their supervision by giving them food, water, and exercise, and checking them for illness or injury. Vet assistants and animal caretakers work with domesticated pets and other non-farm animals to administer medications, clean pens and cages, conduct post-operative care, or take and prepare samples. Veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers work under the supervision of more experienced and licensed animal workers, such as laboratory animal technicians and technologists, scientists, or veterinarians.
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Skills and Abilities
Because you work with animals every day as a veterinary assistant, you must be capable of handling and working with animals, and have the ability to decipher animal behaviors. Working as a laboratory animal caretaker requires you to be detailed in your work as well as meticulous in your record keeping, and have stellar mathematics skills in order to apply them to your everyday work. Problem solving, critical thinking, and excellent listening, speaking, and communication skills are also required for this position.
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Duties
Depending on your work environment and position, the duties and responsibilities for a veterinary assistant and laboratory animal caretaker can vary from day to day. Below are just a few of the tasks you may be expected to handle each workday:
- Clean and maintain pens, kennels, cages, and other animal holding areas in order to prevent the spread of disease and to help keep animals healthy
- Clean examination rooms and tables as well as clean, sterilize, and maintain medical instruments and equipment
- Communicate with clients about proper care, pet medications, treatments, and behavioral issues
- Examine animals to discover any physical or behavioral problems
- Help maintain the hygiene of the animals by providing grooming such as baths and hair cuts, trimming nails, and cleaning and polishing teeth
- Perform routine diagnostic or laboratory tests and examinations
- Prepare meals and serve food, and give physical exercise and companionship to animals
- Record information regarding animal treatment, care, and genealogy and write reports or record research information
- Sell pet food, supplies, and other animal care items to customers and clients
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Tools and Technology
Working with animals requires veterinary assistants and lab caretakers to use tools such as restraint devices and grooming equipment, as well as medical devices such as x-ray machines, urinalysis equipment, and injection syringes, vaccination syringes, or balling guns. As a vet assistant you will also work with technology that may include accounting and scheduling software, word processing software, and medical software.
Education and Training for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers
To become a veterinary assistant or laboratory animal caretaker, you only need a high school diploma or an equivalent. On-the-job training is typically provided for this position, which is also why no previous work experience in required. Some individuals chose to pursue specialized education courses to receive additional training and experience as a veterinary assistant or animal caretaker, but it is not usually required to secure employment.
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Salary
Working as a vet assistant or lab animal caretaker, you can expect to make about $24,000 annually, but your level of experience, your education level, and the state in which you work can influence that number. Laboratory animal caretakers and veterinary assistants who work in the District of Columbia can earn a median wage of $30,000 per year, which is the highest median wage nationwide.
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Jobs by Geography
There are over 75,000 veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers nationwide, but that number is expected to increase at least 10%, with more than 2,000 job openings projected within the next ten years. Virginia, Washington, and Colorado are expected to see the biggest employment increases, with a more than 21% increase in job openings in those states.