How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Alabama

A job of veterinary assistant is more a vocation rather than a regular job.

One who decides to choose this career path should have a big love and compassion for our best friends.

The major goal of a veterinary assistant is to make pets feel better after medical procedures.

Also, some simple clerical job is required.

The job of a veterinary assistant is in great demand in Alabama and this demand is growing each year.

A veterinary assistant is a valuable member of animal healthcare teams because he is responsible for a wide range of duties in veterinary facilities.

Besides, a veterinary assistant can be employed in many other settings.

Good news is that Alabama doesn’t set any specific requirements to veterinary assistants, but allows you earning good money as for those who just started to work.

Job Description: What Does a Veterinary Assistant Do?

I bet many young job seekers are interested in this job and now asking themselves: what a job of a veterinary assistant is?

You can suggest that a veterinary assistant is a person who helps take care of animals in various animal healthcare facilities.

Yes, that’s correct, but not only this.

The job of a veterinary assistant involves a great number of versatile duties.

The list of duties depends on the veterinary facility.

Many of these duties are administrative, but this specialist may also be responsible for providing proper communication between veterinary doctors and clients, calming down animals during procedures, feeding them, etc.

However, the most important is that a veterinary assistant genuinely loves animals and does his best to make animals feel comfortable in a clinic.

How to Become a Veterinary Assistant: Training Information

Becoming a veterinary assistant is easy as a piece of cake!

Alabama doesn’t set any specific requirements to the education of veterinary assistants. Some clinics even accept candidate without any diploma.

Having a high school diploma or GED increases your chances to be accepted for this position.

Some high schools in Alabama, such as:

  • Calhoun Community College in Decatur
  • Ross Medical Education Center in Huntsville
  • Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham
  • Selma Innovation Technology Training Institute in Selma

offer introductory classes that make students familiar with the job of a veterinary assistant.

Those who don’t have time to attend these programs can take advantage of online programs granting relevant certificates.

NAVTA or AVA certifications are desired, but not required to work in the veterinary field in Alabama.

In addition, certificates increase the chances of applicants to be hired as a veterinary assistant.

You may try your luck here:

  • Alabama Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • Veterinary Centers of America (VCA)
  • Carriage Hills Animal Hospital
  • Pet Resort, Riverview Animal Clinic to name a few.

However, some additional research may be needed.

As for me, I recall my volunteering work at a veterinary clinic as a great time because it was morally rewarding to help sick animals.

Besides, I succeeded to gain more experience in the role of a veterinary assistant that allowed me to move up the career ladder.

Licensing and Certification

Neither certification nor licensing is required in Alabama to become a veterinary assistant.

Certification proves that a candidate for the job of a veterinary assistant has necessary skills required to perform his duties.

Graduates receive certifications once they complete a training program for veterinary assistants.

In total, 35 national certificate programs exist in the country.

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) and Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certifications are recognized in all states of the US, including Alabama.

Requirements

There are different admission requirements and processes for each training program.

A great number of educational institutions in Alabama offer the opportunity to become a veterinary assistant, including:

  • colleges
  • technical institutes
  • vocational schools
  • training centers.

Both traditional and distant learning are available.

The general concepts learned in these institutions are the same, but the curriculums can be different.

This doesn’t make an impact on the quality of education and certification.

Also, check out popular degree programs in Alabama and find more details at:

Popular Degree Programs

Duties

A veterinary assistant deals with pets and their owners.

Therefore, excellent communication skills are a benefit because pets have challenging tempers and their owners can be nervous as well.

Other duties involve medical support and administering paperwork.

Some medical duties you will probably have as a veterinary assistant:

  • Taking x-rays;
  • Collecting the samples of faeces and urine;
  • Control over rehabilitation (walking, exercise);
  • Cleaning and disinfecting cages;
  • Inventory control (count, monitoring, sanitization of equipment, preparation of examination and operating rooms);
  • Performing lab tests;
  • Arranging bedding, food and water;
  • Administering injections and medication;
  • Managing emergency care services for animals;
  • Assistance with the procedure of euthanasia;
  • Assistance in applying bandages and other medical dressings;
  • Using restraining techniques for animals during medical procedures, etc.

Communication duties involve the following:

  • Customer service (greeting, seeing off, making calls, follow-ups, etc.);
  • Receiving pets;
  • Asking about the purposes of visits;
  • Providing information regarding the services available;
  • Providing information regarding admission procedures;
  • Providing information regarding prescribed medical procedures to pet owners;
  • Educating pet owners to handle pets in the postoperative period;
  • Scheduling appointments;
  • Contacting veterinary facilities.

Among administrative duties of a veterinary assistant are:

  • Performing clerical work;
  • Monitoring of client’s states and discharging;
  • Making and updating medical records;
  • Administering medication;
  • Creating pet diets;
  • Entering the information about pets into the office database;
  • Cleaning front desk;
  • Filling prescriptions.

A good physical form is a plus because restraining animals can be a challenging task as pets can be stressed.

Being attentive and caring is another benefit because sick animals require more attention and care than healthy ones.

Education

There are no any mandatory programs of training veterinary assistants in Alabama, but credentials as a resident of Alabama, can significantly increase job opportunities by being certified as a veterinary assistant.

For example, the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association offers the NAVTA certification.

Currently, NAVTA certification provides the following options for applicants:

  • Externship – for those who are not currently employed in this field, but are interested to find a job of a veterinary assistant.

This program is mainly focused on training.

  • Experiential Learner – for those who already have a part-time job of minimum 20 hours per week in the field;
  • Veterinary Assistant Program – only full-time employed veterinary assistants can enrol to this program.

You can qualify for AVA examination once completing an approved option.

The exam involves evaluation of knowledge of terms and conditions learned during the program.

A passing grade will grant you with the certificate and you become an approved veterinary assistant in Alabama.

Having AVA certificate requires one year of studies.

According to the requirements of Alabama, practicing veterinary assistants need to renew their credentials one time per two years.

A minor fee and a proof of continuing education are required to solve this issue.

Salary: How Much a Veterinary Assistant Can Earn?

According to the Board of Labour Statistics of the US, the average salary of a veterinary assistant makes up $24,440 as of July, 2018.

A specialist in this area can bring home up to $28,047 if he, for example, works in Madison or Huntsville.

Check out the table of base salaries of veterinary assistants in different cities of Alabama below.

Location Avg. Annual Salary
Auburn $25,578
Birmingham $27,893
Decatur $27,190
Dothan $26,176
Florence $25,567
Gadsden $27,733
Georgiana $26,291
Huntsville $28,047
Madison $28,047
Mobile $27,444
Montgomery $26,529
Prattville $26,529
Tanner $27,296
Tuscaloosa $27,796

Career Advancement Opportunities

As many veterinary assistants are working without having certificates, they have excellent opportunities to advance their careers by achieving a certificate of a veterinary assistant.

This will help a newbie strengthen the position at work and become an equitable member of veterinarian community in Alabama.

The certification can help young specialists move in an upward direction towards higher positions in the veterinary field that also means receiving a higher salary.

In Summary

It’s only your decision whether to become a veterinary assistant or no, but why not try?

You don’t need any special skills, just love and care for animals.

Watching healthy pets playing with their tails, looking devotedly at you or jumping like crazy – what a rewarding performance for animal lovers!

So, take your chance to start a career of a veterinary assistant in Alabama if you feel passion for animal welfare!

USA How to Become a Veterinary Assistant by State