Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers handle routine animal care and help scientists, veterinarians, and others with their daily tasks.

Work Environment: Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers work mainly in clinics, animal hospitals, and research laboratories. Their work may be physically and emotionally demanding.

How to Become One: Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn the occupation on the job.

Salary: The median annual wage for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers is $28,590.

Job Outlook: Employment of veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers is projected to grow 16 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. High turnover should result in good job opportunities.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a veterinary assistant or laboratory animal caretaker with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Veterinary Assistant Jobs

  • Veterinary Assistant or Veterinary Techinician - Easton Animal Clinic - Somerset, NJ

    Greeting clients Obtaining vital signs, medical histories, and maintaining accurate medical records Client education Liaison communication between clients and veterinarians Animal restraint and ...

  • Registered RVTs and Veterinary Assistants - Experience Required - Paw Works Veterinary Hospital - Thousand Oaks, CA

    We are seeking an EXPERIENCED Registered Veterinary Technicians and Veterinary Assistants to join our team! The successful candidate will be a believer in the possibilities of high quality veterinary ...

  • Veterinary Assistant / Technician - Tigard Animal Hospital - Portland, OR

    Tigard Animal Hospital is seeking to add a veterinary assistant /technician to our growing team. We are a busy 3.5 doctor practice that not only provides wellness and preventative care but also day ...

See all Veterinary Assistant jobs

Top 3 Laboratory Animal Caretaker Jobs

  • Laboratory Animal Veterinary Nurse I - Taconic Biosciences, Inc. - Germantown, NY

    We are seeking a Laboratory Animal Veterinary Nurse I to join our team in our Germantown, NY ... Provide training to technicians and caretakers in advanced technical procedures. * Schedule special ...

  • Animal Technician (Husbandry) - Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals - Madison, WI

    We are seeking an Animal Caretaker to join our Laboratory Animal Resources staff. This is an ideal position for an individual with a background in animal care and husbandry who wants an opportunity ...

  • Lead Veterinary Technician - Central Animal Hospital - Saint Petersburg, FL

    In 1979, Mark Brown began working at Central Animal Hospital as an animal caregiver in the kennel ... Experienced skillset in exam room/treatment, radiology, laboratory , surgery and dentistry. * Track ...

See all Laboratory Animal Caretaker jobs

What Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers care for animals by performing routine tasks under the supervision of scientists, veterinarians, and veterinary technologists and technicians.

Duties of Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers typically do the following:

  • Feed, bathe, and exercise animals
  • Clean and disinfect cages, kennels, and examination and operating rooms
  • Restrain animals during examination and laboratory procedures
  • Maintain and sterilize surgical instruments and equipment
  • Monitor and care for animals after surgery
  • Help provide emergency first aid to sick and injured animals
  • Give medication or immunizations that veterinarians prescribe
  • Assist in the collection of blood, urine, and tissue samples

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers also provide nursing care before and after surgery and other medical procedures.

They may prepare equipment and pass surgical instruments and materials to veterinarians during surgery. They also move animals and restrain them during testing and other procedures.

Veterinary assistants typically work in clinics and animal hospitals, helping veterinarians and veterinary technologists and technicians treat injuries and illnesses of animals.

Laboratory animal caretakers work in laboratories under the supervision of a veterinarian, scientist, veterinary technician, or veterinary technologist. Their daily tasks include feeding animals, cleaning kennels, and monitoring the animals.

Work Environment for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers[About this section] [To Top]

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers hold about 99,500 jobs. The largest employers of veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are as follows:

Veterinary services 87%
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 5%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 3%

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers work primarily in clinics and animal hospitals, colleges and universities, and research laboratories.

The work of veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers may be physically and emotionally demanding. Workers may handle sick or abused animals and may assist in euthanizing animals.

Injuries and Illnesses for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. When working with scared and aggressive animals, workers may be bitten, scratched, or kicked. Workers may also be injured while holding, bathing, or restraining an animal.

Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker Work Schedules

Some veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers work part time. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers may work nights, weekends, or holidays.

How to Become a Veterinary Assistant or Laboratory Animal Caretaker[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers near you!

Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers have a high school diploma and learn the occupation on the job. Experience working with or being around animals can be helpful for jobseekers.

Education for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Most workers entering the occupation have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker Training

Although most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are trained on the job, some employers may prefer candidates who already have experience working with animals.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Although certification is not mandatory, it allows workers to demonstrate competency in animal husbandry, health and welfare, and facility administration.

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offers the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation for veterinary assistants. To qualify for the designation, candidates must graduate from a NAVTA-approved program and pass an exam.

Laboratory animal caretakers can become certified through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). AALAS offers three levels of certification: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG). For AALAS certification, candidates must have experience working in a laboratory animal facility and pass an exam.

Important Qualities for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Communication skills. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers often communicate with pet owners, veterinarians, veterinary technologists and technicians, and other assistants. They need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively when dealing with an emergency, such as an ill or injured animal needing immediate attention.

Detail oriented. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must follow strict instructions. For example, workers must be precise when sterilizing surgical equipment, monitoring animals, and giving medication.

Dexterity. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must handle animals and use medical instruments and laboratory equipment with care.

Empathy. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must treat animals with kindness and be empathetic to both the animals and their owners.

Physical strength. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must be able to handle, move, and restrain animals.

Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers is $28,590. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,790, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $39,800.

The median annual wages for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $37,910
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $32,950
Veterinary services $28,150

Some veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers work part time. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers may work nights, weekends, or holidays.

Job Outlook for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers is projected to grow 16 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. These workers are expected to be needed to assist veterinarians and other veterinary care staff.

Increases in consumers’ pet-related spending are expected to drive employment in the veterinary services industry, which employs most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers. In clinics and other veterinary service establishments, assistants help veterinarians and veterinary technicians and technologists with various veterinary procedures. Demand for veterinary assistants will continue as the demand for veterinary procedures increases.

Job Prospects for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Overall job opportunities for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are expected to be good. Veterinary assistants experience a high rate of job turnover, so many positions will become available from workers who leave the occupation each year.

Employment projections data for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers, 2019-29
Occupational Title Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29
Percent Numeric
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers 99,500 115,200 16 15,700


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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