Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

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Also known as:
Laboratory Animal Caretaker, Veterinarian Assistant, Veterinarian Helper, Veterinary Attendant

Video transcript

Veterinary assistants work with veterinary technicians to treat animals for disease, administer shots or pills, and assist during surgery and physical exams. They are similar to the aides who assist nurses and doctors in caring for people.

They sometimes comfort the animal, prepare food and medicine, remove stiches and bandages and help with medical tests. The job may include doing the "dirty work" of cleaning kennels and sweeping out cages - but it also includes such gratifying tasks as grooming an animal and bringing it food and water.

A high school diploma (or equivalent) is essential. But if you have a genuine love of animals - all kinds of animals - this can be a great way to enter the animal caretaker field. And if you like the work, there are two-year colleges offering associate degrees qualifying you as a veterinary technician, a higher level position that typically commands a higher salary.

Feed, water, and examine pets and other nonfarm animals for signs of illness, disease, or injury in laboratories and animal hospitals and clinics. Clean and disinfect cages and work areas, and sterilize laboratory and surgical equipment. May provide routine postoperative care, administer medication orally or topically, or prepare samples for laboratory examination under the supervision of veterinary or laboratory animal technologists or technicians, veterinarians, or scientists.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Dust, spray, or bathe animals to control insect pests.

Perform accounting duties, such as bookkeeping, billing customers for services, or maintaining inventories.

Educate or advise clients on animal health care, nutrition, or behavior problems.

Provide emergency first aid to sick or injured animals.

Perform routine laboratory tests or diagnostic tests, such as taking or developing x-rays.

Collect laboratory specimens, such as blood, urine, or feces, for testing.

Place orders to restock inventory of hospital or laboratory supplies.

Perform office reception duties, such as scheduling appointments or helping customers.

Provide assistance with euthanasia of animals or disposal of corpses.

Write reports, maintain research information, or perform clerical duties.

Fill medication prescriptions.

Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Biology Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Medicine and Dentistry Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Communications and Media Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.