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What qualifications do I need to become a vet assistant?

Are you looking to begin a new career working professionally with animals, but you’re unsure where to begin? Working as a vet assistant could be the perfect introduction to life in animal care. Providing an insight into the world of vet medicine, this dynamic role within a surgery, clinic or animal hospital also offers a comprehensive experience of the processes, procedures and admin required to run an effective animal care business or not-for-profit. 

If this sounds good, then your next question may be – what qualifications do I need to become a vet assistant? Working in the animal care industry requires a level of specialist knowledge and study to help hit the ground running, and a great base of learning that you can build on further with on-the-job training. 

A Vet Assistant certificate is a fantastic step for anyone looking to enter this industry, helping you begin on the path to becoming a vet assistant. It provides a learning foundation and the expertise you need to feel comfortable, confident and capable as you start off in this role. 

So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what all of this entails.

A day in the life of a vet assistant infographic

A day in the life – vet assistant

A vet assistant plays a crucial role at a veterinary practice or shelter, helping it to function smoothly and efficiently. As the first person to greet pet owners and the animals as they arrive at the shelter or practice, they are expected to be able to provide emergency first aid, help initially assess potential ailments and provide in-person or over the phone support, and also ensure that all administrative tasks are carried out to a high standard. Ultimately, they are responsible for ensuring that all animals under the clinic’s care receive the proper care and treatment, working closely with the veterinarians themselves.

Some of the tasks vet assistants are responsible for include feeding, bathing, and exercising the animals. On a typical day, vet assistants will also manage maintaining and sterilising surgical instruments and equipment; cleaning and disinfecting cages, kennels, and examination and operating rooms; and keeping important areas of veterinary medicine sanitised to reduce the spread of infection. In addition to supporting the vet by restraining animals during examinations and treatments, vet assistants are responsible for monitoring and caring for animals after surgery. 

As you can probably understand by this point, a vet assistant has to be an insightful and versatile all-rounder. They are expected to be able to assume myriad roles within a surgery, clinic or shelter, and the tasks carried out by these individuals are vital to ensuring animals receive the best quality of care possible.

In terms of a schedule for this role, vet assistants can work full time or part-time hours, with most surgeries being open Monday to Friday, and some opening up limited appointments over weekends too. A few surgeries also remain open late into the evening, to help as many owners as possible when traditional working hours are over. 

Flexibility is necessary for this career, as well as a positive and calm mental attitude, the ability to multitask and work efficiently under pressure. Good communication and a commitment to teamwork are also musts when working in a vet clinic.

Courses animal care infographic 1

Vet assistant course – online study

If you’d love to take your first step into this career, then completing a short online course could be the ideal choice for you. 

Our Vet Assistant certificate is broken into two subject areas, giving you a comprehensive overview of all the essential topics for this career. In the first module, we cover Animal Healthcare topics – such as the signs of poor health, common diseases, treatments and pet issues, animal behaviour and rehabilitation. 

In the second module, we go into more depth when it comes to animal illnesses with Common Diseases in Animals study, looking at the various bacterial, fungal and parasitological conditions affecting the animals you will treat in a veterinary surgery. We also look at common disease indicators, the signs of poisoning and disease investigation also form part of this subject grouping. 

This vet assistant course comprises approximately 200 hours of study. It takes roughly 10-15 weeks to complete, although how long this course takes to complete will depend on your own particular circumstances and commitments. This is why online study is such a wonderful option – as you can study at your own pace, with a time and financial undertaking that works for you. The great news is that you’ll be able to access your course for 12 months, which is fantastic if you’re the kind of student that prefers to spread out your learning or revisit and revise topics you’ve completed.

After this taster, you may develop a passion for learning as much as you can about animals before applying to work at a vet clinic. Luckily, you can elect to go one step further and learn even more about our furry friends with a certificate in one of our related animal care courses:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Wildlife Veterinary Assistant
  • Wildlife Sustainability 
  • Herpetology
  • Carnivore Zoology
  • Zoo Husbandry

Dedicating your free time to refining your knowledge and expertise in the field of animal care can help open up multiple career opportunities. By using your initiative to undertake a short course online of your own volition, this is a great way to show your dedication to working in this competitive field and can even help you stand out from other applicants.

Courses animal care infographic 2

Study outcomes – vet courses

Having learned the basics of being a veterinary assistant with our course, you’ll have a wealth of new knowledge at your fingertips and you’ll be able to demonstrate your commitment to this career to potential employers. 

An online vet assistant course can likewise help confirm that this truly is the career for you, and you might perhaps then like to advance into pursuing a higher qualification in vet nursing or in veterinary medicine itself. 

By working or volunteering in animal hospitals and veterinary clinics through an entry-level position, you’ll have even more room to learn as you gain hands-on experience and grow in your role. There is then always the potential for you to pursue a specialised position within an animal shelter, or pivot and take a related path in veterinary nursing, animal behaviour or welfare studies.

Career – changing courses

It’s an understatement to say that the growing pet and animal care industry can offer a truly rewarding and fulfilling career. You may decide to continue to up-skill in this area and move into veterinary nursing, or perhaps branch into another specialism of animal welfare or behaviour studies – the choice is yours! 

Especially as pet ownership has risen over the pandemic, careers in the animal care field are sure to remain steady over the coming months and years. Indeed overall, the animal care industry is only expected to grow from here on out.

So, do you think you have the passion, resilience, communication and technical skills needed to become a vet assistant? Interested in taking your first step into this career? Then look no further! 

With My Learning Online, you’ll have 24-hour access to your course contents and tutor support whenever you need it. Plus, with affordable payment plans, you can easily fit your learning around your current lifestyle and work commitments.

Take a look through our catalogue of animal care courses online here and take the first step in building the career of your dreams today!


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