15 Pros and Cons of Being a Veterinary Assistant

Veterinary assistants are a vital part of a team of professionals that help assist pets and their families every day.

Their duties carry across the clinic from the front office and exam rooms to the stockrooms and kennel areas.

For instance, some of the duties include entering patient information, scheduling appointments, cleaning and prepping the exam rooms, cleaning cages, taking vital signs, sterilizing equipment, and assisting the vet during exams.

A veterinary assistant needs to have at least a high school diploma.

While a formal secondary education is not always needed, most veterinary clinics prefer someone that has a certificate in veterinary assisting.

Many schools offer courses that are relatively short and inexpensive.

Having a certificate as a vet assistant can greatly increase your chances of getting hired.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for veterinary assistants is expected to rise by 19% by 2031.

Right now the average salary for a veterinary assistant in the United States is between $28,500 to $34,400 per year.

To be a gid veterinary assistant one should love animals, be patient, gentle, kind, well-organized, and not be afraid of getting dirty.

Read on for some pros and cons of being a veterinary assistant.

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Pros

1. Getting To Work With Animals

This is perhaps the best part of this job.

Any animal lover would jump at the chance to spend their day surrounded by cats, dogs, bunnies, and more.

Getting to hold, pet, and reassure them is not only good for them, but for the assistant as well.

It’s always great to love what you do.

2. Wear Scrubs

Veterinary assistants wear scrubs each day.

This can be great, because, simply they are comfortable.

But it also takes away the stress of having to pick outfits each morning and spending tons of cash on a wardrobe.

You also don’t have wear and tear on your everyday clothing.

3. Work With A Team

If you’re not a fan of working by yourself and enjoy the support of others, then a job as a vet assistant could be good for you.

You’ll always have the knowledge and insight of the veterinarian to guide you.

More than likely, (depending on the size of the practice), you will have several other co-workers to help with tasks and even to socialize with.

You have the opportunity to meet people that you can build long-term relationships with and get together outside the work environment.

4. Can Be a Great Experience For The Future

Becoming a veterinary assistant can be a great experience for the future.

If you decide to pursue other areas of animal care like a veterinary technician, groomer, or even a veterinarian, the experience you gain as an assistant will be invaluable.

5. Flexible Hours

May veterinarian offices offer their assistants a flexible schedule.

Often, part-time hours are given to avoid paying for insurance (which can be a con if you need that).

Having a flexible schedule can allow you to continue your studies, spend more time with family, and get personal tasks done without the stress of a full-time job.

6. Make A Difference

One of the best parts of being a veterinary assistant is that it’s personally fulfilling.

Knowing that you are helping an animal in need is a great feeling.

At the same time, you’re helping their human, who will certainly be grateful.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of animals a vet assistant is the perfect fit.

7. Variety Of Tasks

Being a veterinary assistant will keep you on your toes, and ensure that you’re never bored.

Every day brings new pets with new needs.

You’ll experience different challenges and requirements based on those needs, so it’s definitely not a repetitive job.

Plus you change stations often, going from the front desk to the exam room to the stockroom to the kennel.

You definitely won’t be sitting around staring at the wall.

Cons

1. Paychecks Can Be Small

Unfortunately, veterinary assistants do not make a ton of money, so you really should love the job.

The average assistant makes minimum wage or slightly above.

So, if you’re looking to get rich this is not the career for you.

It’s best for a college student living at home, or as a second family income to help with extras.

The good news is, the demand for the profession is growing, so hopefully the salary will increase as well.

2. Gross Stuff

There’s no nice way to say it, working in the medical field comes often comes with gross stuff.

Working at a veterinarian’s office is no different.

There’s vomit, blood, poop, urine, and weird discharge from the ears, eyes, nose, and rectal area.

Then there are the smells from all of that.

Keep in mind that it’s also the vet assistant’s job to clean up the animal and the messy exam room.

If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude for some pretty nasty things then do not become a veterinary assistant.

3. Physically Demanding

Another con to being a veterinary assistant is that it’s physically demanding.

You must be able to pick up heavy animals, risk getting bitten and scratched, and exposed to bodily fluids.

You’re on your feet a good part of the day, and there is a lot of bending, stretching, and kneeling involved.

You may also have to crawl into small kennel spaces to clean them and walk any dogs that are being boarded.

If you have physical limitations, this might not be a good choice.

4. Unpleasant Moments

Sadly, as much as you can help animals by being a vet assistant, there are times when there is nothing you can do to help.

This is the worst part of being a vet assistant.

Animals may be brought in after suffering an accident or medical emergency for which nothing can be done.

It’s heartbreaking to see both the animal and their distraught owners.

Other times, an owner may decide it’s time to say goodbye to their sick or informed pet, and you will have to assist with the euthanasia process.

This can be terribly sad and emotionally draining.

You must be able to separate your feelings if you’re to be a successful veterinary assistant.

5. Allergies

Allergies can foil some people from their aspirations of being a veterinary assistant.

Pet allergies can wreak havoc on the most determined professional.

Hair, dander, and other elements can make it impossible to do the job.

There are medications that can suppress symptoms if you are willing to take them.

6. Emotional Humans

It happens in all areas of the medical field, with the occasional overwrought family member.

Even if the patient is calm and collected, there are always those family members (in this case, owners), that may be so upset that their pet is in peril, they take it out on you.

They may make unfair accusations, unreasonable demands, they may cry, scream, and carry on.

It’s up to you to take a deep breath, assess the situation, and do what you need to calm the person professionally.

7. Uniform/Dress Code

If you like wearing scrubs then that’s a win in this job.

However, if it’s not your cup of tea then you may have a problem.

If you enjoy getting dressed and spiffed up for work this is not a job for you.

Also, some offices may require you to cover tattoos, and not have facial piercings, or colored hair.

If your personal style means more to you than helping pets, don’t go into this profession.

8. Lack Of Benefits

Most veterinary assistants don’t get good medical benefits if any at all.

Many assistants work part-time, so they don’t qualify for benefits beyond some paid time off.

If you need benefits for you and your family this might not be a good career choice.

15 Pros and Cons of Being a Veterinary Assistant – Summary Table

ProsCons
1. Getting To Work With Animals1. Paychecks Can Be Small
2. Wear Scrubs2. Gross Stuff
3. Work With A Team3. Physically Demanding
4. Can Be Great Experience For The Future4. Unpleasant Moments
5. Flexible Hours5. Allergies
6. Make A Difference6. Emotional Humans
7. Variety Of Tasks7. Uniform/Dress Code
8. Lack Of Benefits

Should You Become A Veterinary Assistant?

Being a veterinary assistant can be a rewarding career for someone that loves animals and enjoys helping our four-legged friends.

It can be a fun environment in which to work where you’re surrounded by pets and other people that share your passion.

It’s a great job for those that need flexibility in their schedules and need a good work/ life balance.

You do need to have a strong stomach and not let the sometimes sad days get to you.

So if you’re patient, well-organized, and outgoing, a career as a veterinary assistant could be for you.


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