How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Alaska

Did you know that many Americans are big lovers of animals?

Animal healthcare is a prospective business in Alaska that employs a great number of high school graduates.

You can jump into this train as well if you’re searching for a job to start your career.

Many students face the problem of unemployment after graduation.

An occupation of a veterinary assistant is a good opportunity to start with and gain some experience in the veterinary field.

Job Description: Major Functions of a Veterinary Assistant

I suppose, now you have many questions about this job.

I will try to shed some light on what veterinary assistants actually do.

The major responsibility of veterinary assistants is to take care of animals in veterinarian clinics.

Also, a veterinary assistant is responsible for fulfilling administering tasks like answering phone calls, addressing concerns of pet owners, sterilizing medical equipment, preparing rooms for examining animals and surgery.

In some clinics veterinary assistants collect urine and faecal samples, perform lab work and take care of animals after surgery.

This is not an extensive list of the responsibilities of veterinary assistants.

This is just to give you an idea of the job.

How to Become a Veterinary Assistant: Training Information

Becoming a veterinary assistant in Alaska is easier than you may think.

It would be a great benefit if you possess any kind of a veterinary certificate, but this is not a necessary condition at all.

Having a high school diploma of GED is desirable.

A high school diploma and GED can increase your chances to be employed for this position.

Some post-secondary schools in Alaska offer programs for veterinary assistants.

After completing one of these programs you can become a certified specialist in veterinary medicine.

The following schools offer these programs:

  • University of Alaska Anchorage;
  • Charter College Alaska;
  • Penn Foster College;
  • Mat-Su College.

These schools provide veterinary education enabling you to perform this job.

Among potential employers of veterinary assistants are:

  • Alaska Veterinary Clinic;
  • Alaska Affordable Veterinary Care;
  • College Villaga Animal Clinic;
  • Alaska State Veterinarian;
  • Alaska Mobile Veterinary Surgery, LLC;
  • Anchorage Animal Care and Control;
  • Christine Michetti, DVM;
  • North Pole Veterinary Hospital;
  • Erin Earhart, DVM;
  • VCA Eagle River Animal Hospital;
  • VCA Alaska Pet Care Animal Hospital;
  • Wasilla Veterinary Clinic.

You may wish to search for veterinary clinics in your area to collect more information.

Licensing and Certification

There are no any state-wide requirements to acquire an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) or Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA) certificates.

The certificates are issued upon completion of the program that means passing an AVA examination.

AVA or CVA certificates give you an opportunity to land a veterinary assistant position in the best veterinary clinics in Alaska.

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) organises programs for future veterinary assistants.

NAVTA offers more than 35 approved programs on veterinary medicine across the country.

You can enrol for these programs online.

Requirements

Genuine love for animals and a desire to take care of them is enough to start a career of a veterinary assistant.

Veterinary certificates will help you to be better prepared for this career.

Additional training involves formal instruction related to general medical terminology, identification of breeds, fundamentals of dietary, approaches to administer medications, etc.

Duties

Veterinary assistants perform multiple functions in animal healthcare clinics.

Their role is crucial as veterinaries rely on them very much.

So, here I listed several things to do as a veterinary assistant:

  • Contacting clients
  • Answering questions of pet owners
  • Satisfying the demands of pet owners
  • Making medical records
  • Cooperation with other veterinary clinics to gather necessary information
  • Take care of animals (feeding, watering, cleaning, walking, rehabilitation, giving medicines, putting a diet, cleaning cages, etc.)
  • Keeping inventory (regular checks, maintenance, cleaning, sanitizing, etc.)
  • Assistance to doctors.

This is an incomplete list of the duties of veterinary assistants.

Veterinary assistants are the valued members of clinics’ teams because they perform a wide range of duties.

Education

There are no any specific mandatory requirements to education level of veterinary assistants.

As I have already mentioned above, a high school diploma or GED equivalency will do.

High schools in Alaska offer educational programs for veterinary assistants to give them an opportunity to start a career of a veterinary assistant early.

Distance learning programs are also available.

Post-secondary schools in Alaska offer a wide choice of distant learning programs to those who are willing to become veterinary assistants.

After completing these programs students are awarded with certificates.

NAVTA offers several programs in Alaska:

  • Small Animal Care Program at Penta Career Center;
  • Veterinary Assistant Program at Northern Summit Academy;
  • Veterinary Program at Jessamine Career and Technology Center.

Both full-time and distant forms of education are available for those who are already employed as veterinary assistants and for beginners.

As a rule, it takes from six months to one year to receive relevant certificate.

Popular Degree Programs

Salary: Is It Worth Your Effort?

The average annual salary of veterinary assistants makes $29,050 in Alaska.

In my opinion, it’s not bad for beginners, right?

The basic annual salary varies from city to city, however.

For example, it may make slightly more than $33,700 in Anchorage, but in Sitka veterinary assistants bring home less – roughly $32,500.

At the same time, senior veterinary assistants can earn up to $38,000 in Alaska.

So, your earnings depend on multiple factors, including, education, working experience, work setting, number of working hours, etc.

Your earnings will grow even if your position remains the same: junior veterinary assistant earns approximately $12.33 per hour, while the salary of a starting veterinary assistant makes up $10.13.

An experienced veterinary assistant earns $14.00 per hour and an hourly pay of a senior professional can make up to $16.51.

The top earnings make up $20.28 per hour in Alaska.

It’s more than double hourly salary if compared to the salary of a newbie.

The basic annual salaries of veterinary assistants in Alaska as of September, 2018 are shown in the table below.

Location Avg. Annual Salary
Anchorage $33,707
Circle $32,990
Fairbanks $33,440
Haines $32,520
Juneau $32,969
Nome $33,124
Palmer $33,257
Russian Mission $33,257
Sitka $32,520
Wasilla $33,257

Career Advancement Opportunities

Once you get some experience as a veterinary assistant, you can move further to acquire a higher position in the veterinary field.

The first logical step is becoming an AVA-certified specialist.

Further, you have an opportunity to advance to a position of a veterinary technician.

A position of a senior veterinary assistant can be an option as well once the clinic offers this position.

Becoming a veterinarian is another option as far as you dream about it.

Summary

Many people underestimate the role of a veterinary assistant in a clinic.

However, I did my best to change your mind.

The job performed by veterinary assistants is not only technical; it’s more about giving hope.

Their duties are very demanding: they should be tender enough to take care of wounded and ill animals, but tough enough to restrain them when they are in stress.

For this reason, this job is in high demand and respected across the US.

USA How to Become a Veterinary Assistant by State