Veterinary assistants are not the same thing as a veterinary technician. A veterinary assistant in Michigan is familiar and has experience in the animal care field, but is not licensed as a veterinary technician. In some cases, they may have the opportunity to have a more hands on experience with animals, but it varies on the type of practice they work in. They care for animals while taking care of the daily business needs of the clinic or hospital.
Veterinary assistants run the front end of the veterinarian’s office. They greet patients, pull charts, file paperwork, answer phones, take payments, and handle appointments and scheduling of procedures. They can also assist by escorting animals and weighing them before they enter the exam room. They can assist, when needed, during surgeries. They cannot administer any drugs or perform procedures on their own. They are not allowed to give injections, but they are allowed to perform some lab work. They draw blood, collect urine samples, and assist in taking x-rays. Veterinary assistants also provide clean bedding, water, and litter pans for pets. They may also feed hospitalized and boarded animals, as needed.
For people who want to become a veterinarian, they may choose to start out as a veterinary assistant to give them experience in the field. Veterinary assistants may work in a typical clinic, university, zoo, wildlife reserve, aquarium, or laboratory. They may be required to clean out kennels, habitats, or cages. Some of their job duties may also involve feeding, grooming, and exercising animals. In more rural areas, veterinary assistants may travel with the veterinarian to visit farms, homes, and ranches to provide examinations or emergency medical care to animals such as horses, pigs, chickens, and bulls.
In a laboratory setting, job duties will include sterilizing laboratory and surgical equipment, cleaning, and disinfecting cages and work areas. They can also administer oral medications, topical medications, and prepare samples for examination.
It is not uncommon for Veterinarians to seek veterinary assistants that love animals, is caring, and has a good attitude. Dealing with patients, even animals, can be emotional. They look for knowledgeable prospects who has a professional demeanor. Comforting owners who pet may be undergoing surgery, diagnosed with a disease, or having to be put down is an important part of the job. It helps to ensure them that the clinic or hospital cares about them and their pet.
The state of Michigan is working to change the culture of the animal care business. They have been ranked as a Top-10 Pro-Business state. They are working to retain and create new businesses and jobs.
The state does not require veterinary assistants to have any type of licensure. Employers in the state offer a competitive wage that is just below the national average of median annual pay. The field is seeing continual growth and offering new jobs to those wishing to enter into veterinary medicine.
It’s a great opportunity to have hands on experience if you are continuing your education to become a veterinary technician or veterinarian.
Veterinary assistants often work in clinics, animal hospitals, research laboratories, zoos, habitats, aquariums, and wildlife preserves. Working in various types of locations may put you in contact with different types of animals that may be specific to the region you are in and the environment.
The work setting is similar to a physician’s office. Exam rooms must be cleaned and sterilized after each patient. There is risk of exposure to chemicals and injury from dealing with animals. The unknown and new environment can cause a typically behaved animal to become nervous and act out. They may scratch, bite, or kick out of fear. They may try to escape and cause injury to themselves or to the veterinary assistant handling them.
Many clinics or hospitals are open 24 hours a day, you may be required to work nights, weekends, or holidays. Veterinary assistants usually work 40 hours per week.
According to the state of Michigan, there are currently 2,193 people in the field working as veterinary assistants. They have a total average of 40 job openings each year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that on a national level between 2014 - 2024, the field will see a 9% increase which is faster than the average job.
Veterinary Assistant Salary
According to the state of Michigan, the state median salary is $21,080 per year or $10.13 per hour. This wage is just below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, on a national level, the median salary is $24,360 per year or $11.71 per hour.
Michigan does not require licenses for this position nor do they have a definition of for Vvterinary assistant on their licensure site.
Veterinary assistants in Michigan must be at least 18-years old and possess a high school diploma or equivalent. Most veterinary assistants are not required to have a degree. Having a degree or certification will give you an advantage in the job market and assist you in pursuing your education in the veterinary field. Most assistants will receive on the job training. If you pursue training in school or on the job, the basic areas of study will be basic veterinary pharmacology, basic veterinary anatomy, feeding, transport, and safety procedures. You will also learn various required protocols – confinement cleaning, equipment sterilization, and hazardous material.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offers a national certification for qualified applicants. The Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification is nationally recognized. To qualify for the examination, an individual must have attended a NAVTA approved training program. An exam mentor –veterinarian or credentialed technician, instructor, or licensed testing center – observes the candidate during the examination.
If you are pursuing a job in a laboratory, you may be required to obtain a certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). If you choose to seek education pertaining to laboratory work, courses may include the study of pathology, animal nursing, lab procedures, and a practicum.