If you have true and unlimited love towards animals does not mean that you would be a good veterinary assistant.
In fact, this is the first quality that each aspiring veterinary workers must possess, but there are some other personal and educational qualities that are also important.
When the vet assistant job is in question, it is helpful to have a background dealing with animals,.
Veterinary assistants must be organized, logical and communicative individuals as they will have to work with people all day long.
Taking into consideration that they work primarily with animal owners rather than animals, good communication skills are essential.
Their duties are to clean and organize around the veterinary office, prepare surgical areas, and complete important paperwork.
Other qualities that make the best veterinary assistants are the knowledge of veterinary terminology and dealing with insurance companies.
In some cases, veterinary assistants can be involved in advanced medical procedures, but still, they are not required by any states to have a license or a particular certification.
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Requirements for Veterinary Assistant Certification
So as to make sure that they employed a high-quality worker, many employers decided for an assistant that has completed a certificate or associate’s degree program approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
These are usually 3-12 months long programs, after which students may sit for the Veterinary Assistant National Exam.
Upon successful passing of this exam, they get the title – Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA).
One of the reasons why you should get this nationally-recognized vet assistant certification is the possibility of getting high-paying jobs.
Just like any kind of certification has certain requirements, there are some of them for Veterinary Assistant Certification as well.
A good thing to mention is that the requirements for a veterinary assistant certification are almost identical from state to state.
Standardizing the education of veterinary assistants was set and most of the certification guidelines are maintained by NAVTA.
You should know that in states like California and Texas there are some exceptions.
Adhering to the following guidelines is the only way to gain a veterinary assistant certification.
When it comes to education, have in mind the fact that only programs that meet the NATVA requirements allow students to be eligible for a veterinarian assistant certification.
This means that students are required to complete a minimum of 150 contact hours by the time they complete their training, including hands-on experiences in veterinary labs.
Furthermore, they must have exposure to both large and small animals, as well as their goals and assessments that show their progress in working with these animals.
Finally, all the courses attended must be taught by licensed veterinary technicians or veterinarians.
Upon receiving appropriate training and education, the next step in obtaining a vet assistant certification is taking and passing the national exam.
You will need to achieve a passing score on the Approved Veterinary Assistant Examination (AVA) which consists of 100 questions that have to be answered in 150 minutes.
Students passing with 75% or better are considered Approved Veterinary Assistants (AVA).
There are only exceptions to this rule are the states of California, Texas, and Missouri, being that the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) offers an alternative certification program to the AVA designation.
Their students are held to a much higher standard than the NATVA program and the requirements are a little bit different.
They include 600 hours of hands-on training provided by a California-based mentor veterinary technician or veterinarian and a 100-question certification exam.
On the other hand, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) has less strict requirements for its CVA program.
They involve a 90-day work experience with a qualified vet tech or veterinarian and a 70% passing score on their certification exam.
The Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) provides an alternative to the AVA designation, requiring that students complete 90 days of work experience under the supervision of a veterinarian or registered veterinary technician and must show 100% competency to pass the certifying exam.
Value of Certification & Specializations
It is true that you do not need to get the certification if you cannot afford the appropriate education and examination, but you have to bear in mind that the job market is full of vet assistants who have only a high school degree, causing the job opportunities not to be so great.
Because veterinary assistant do not need a certification or in-depth training, everyone interested in this career can apply for the job.
That is why veterinarians tend to employ those who have chosen to become nationally or locally certified and who showed their interest and devotion to this career filed.
Certification can be an excellent way to advance in this career field and not only will you get a better-paying veterinary assistant job, but many of these certifications can be used towards a veterinary technician degree.
Veterinary Assistant Licensing Boards
Even though there are certain individual bodies that certify vet assistants, at this time there are no required licenses to work as a veterinary assistant.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) approves programs that meet their requirements and offers an evaluation exam for those interested in being certified as an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA).
The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), the Texas Medical Veterinary Association (TMVA), and the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) are also there to provide similar education so that students can become Certified Veterinary Assistants (CVA).
However, NAVTA is the most widely recognized and valued.
If students pass the Approved Veterinary Assistant Examination (AVA), it actually proves that their education and skills are at a nationally-recognized level, and consequently, those vet assistants become more competitive for the highest-paying veterinary assistant jobs.