What are the Different Types of Vet Assistant Jobs?

Gayle R.

People who want to work in the animal health field, but do not want to become a full-fledged veterinarian, may opt to become a veterinary assistant instead. In some cases, people might use vet assistant jobs as a stepping stone to a career as a veterinarian. There are many types of vet assistant jobs, ranging from being a receptionist in a vet clinic to helping a zoo vet treat exotic animals. Here are some types of vet assistant jobs and the tasks that are associated with them.

A vet assistant helps vets treat pets.
A vet assistant helps vets treat pets.

Vet assistant jobs can be divided into two categories: those requiring formal medical schooling, and those that don't. Most veterinarians prefer to hire certified veterinary technicians to perform the more technical tasks associated with a veterinary practice. These tasks might include helping the vet in the exam room, assisting in surgery, taking and developing radiographs, and performing laboratory procedures.

Vet assistants may be tasked with administering vaccinations.
Vet assistants may be tasked with administering vaccinations.

Those workers without formal training can often find jobs as an animal clinic receptionist or clinic helper. A receptionist is usually responsible for scheduling appointments, disseminating information, answering phones, bookkeeping tasks, and other office-related duties. Other tasks that a clinic helper might assist with include cleaning kennels and cages, feeding and exercising the animals, and general maintenance tasks. Often these noncertified assistants can get enough on the job training that they can eventually perform the duties of a vet tech.

A vet assistant may be in charge of assisting in animal health procedures.
A vet assistant may be in charge of assisting in animal health procedures.

A veterinary assistant might also be hired to assist a large animal vet. In such a position, the assistant would likely travel to the clients' houses and farms with the vet, and assist him or her with animal health procedures. The animal assistant may be called on to help restrain animals, administer medications, help with farm and ranch-related activities such as birthing and vaccinating.

Vet assistants may offer services to help out at a local animal shelter.
Vet assistants may offer services to help out at a local animal shelter.

Another option for animal health assistants is to work at an animal shelter or humane society. Large shelters often have a veterinarian on staff. A vet tech will help the vet perform health and temperament evaluations, vaccinations, medical treatments, and in some shelters, euthanasia. If no veterinarian is on staff, a vet tech might perform some of these tasks without veterinary supervision.

Veterinary assistants usually have not received formal training or certification.
Veterinary assistants usually have not received formal training or certification.

Zoos, public aquariums, and wildlife preserves offer another opportunity for vet assistants. In this position, the technician would typically help with animal examinations, prophylactic care such as vaccinations and dentistry, helping with surgical or radiologic procedures, and animal recordkeeping tasks. Other miscellaneous vet assistant jobs include laboratory animal caretaker, research assistant, emergency health technician, or assistant at a spay and neuter clinic.

A large animal vet assistant may travel to farms and ranches to treat horses and other livestock.
A large animal vet assistant may travel to farms and ranches to treat horses and other livestock.

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