19 Pros and Cons of Being a Veterinary Assistant

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If you love animals, you should consider a veterinary assistant career.

Veterinary assistants can perform many functions, including administering medications, dressing wounds, and helping with surgery and veterinary exams. 

Of course, like any career, you’ll find both pros and cons to being a veterinary assistant.

Let’s take a look at them. 

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Pros of Being a Veterinary Assistant

Being a veterinary assistant offers lots of benefits. 

The pros of being a veterinary assistant include: 

  1. Work closely with animals
  2. Help pet owners
  3. Little or no education required
  4. Opportunity to advance your career
  5. Can work in a variety of settings
  6. Experience in the veterinary field
  7. You won’t get bored
  8. Job security 
  9. You’ll be part of a team
  10. Reasonable pay

1. Work Closely With Animals

The first benefit of being a veterinary assistant is that you will be working with animals.

If you are an animal lover, this can be a big benefit.

What could be more exciting than meeting lots of new animals when you go to work each day? 

You’ll be able to help pets in their time of need, which can be very rewarding. 

2. Help Pet Owners

In addition to helping pets, you will also be helping pet owners.

Pet lovers are typically a close-knit group, so it feels great to help them, in addition to their pets. 

You may be providing comfort during a rough time, or discussing how to keep their four-legged family member healthy with preventative veterinary care. 

You may even develop friendships with your favorite clients.

Seeing pet owners leave your office with a smile is one of the best aspects of this career. 

3. Little or No Education Required

Most states have no educational requirements for veterinary assistants, which means you could enter the field with a high school diploma or GED.

However, many employees require you to have some type of training. 

Technical school training programs can allow you to become a  veterinary assistant in just a few months.

This allows you to start your career quickly. 

4. Opportunity to Advance Your Career

A veterinary assistant is an entry-level position, which means that you can move up in your career.

Becoming a veterinary technician requires an associate’s degree from an accredited program.

If you have already had veterinary assistant training, this may count towards a vet tech degree. 

Of course, you can also continue your education to become a veterinarian.

You’ll spend more years in school, but the payoff is worth it. 

5. Can Work in a Variety of Settings

As a veterinary assistant, you can choose to work in many settings.

You can work in a vet’s office or a veterinary hospital.

You may also work in an animal shelter, or travel with a vet who makes house calls. 

6. Experience in the Veterinary Field

If you are considering becoming a veterinarian, this is a great way to get acquainted with the veterinary field.

You can learn if this is truly what you want to do, and gain valuable experience that can help you throughout your career. 

7. You Won’t Get Bored

As a veterinary assistant, you’ll perform a wide variety of duties each day.

You may be assisting with surgery one day, and then cleaning wounds the next.

Not all activities are thrilling, but each day is sure to give you some excitement and variety. 

8. Job Security 

Veterinary assistants enjoy strong job security, because they are in high demand.

In fact, demand for vet assistants is projected to grow by 19%  over the next decade, which is much faster than average. 

You’ll know that you have plenty of opportunities for employment, which makes it worth it to enter the field.  

9. You’ll Be Part of a Team

Being a veterinary assistant means that you are part of a team.

You’ll be working with others, including a veterinarian, to help animals heal or stay healthy.

This can give you a sense of belonging.  

10. Reasonable Pay and Benefits

You’ll get paid to be a veterinary assistant.

Although you will be far from the highest-paid employee in the office, you can support yourself with this career. 

You may also get benefits, including medical insurance and vacation time, particularly if you choose to work full-time. 

Cons of Being a Veterinary Assistant 

Along with the benefits of being a veterinary assistant, there are some downsides you should be aware of. 

The cons of being a veterinary assistant include:

  1. You’ll work with people
  2. Salary is lower than other positions
  3. Unpleasant sights and smells
  4. Zoonotic diseases
  5. Treating pets that are sick or in pain
  6. Dealing with death
  7. Physically demanding
  8. Tasks can be dull or unpleasant
  9. Hours can be inconvenient 

1. You’ll Work with People

If working with pets is a benefit, then working with people might be considered a con.

You’ll be working with pet owners who love pets just like you, but this doesn’t mean that they will always be easy to get along with. 

You’ll be a part of a team, but your team members may be challenging as well.

Generally, people who choose to work with animals prefer them to most people.

When you put a group of people that don’t particularly get along with people together, it can be tough to communicate effectively or get along well.  

2. Salary is Lower Than Other Positions

You will earn a salary or paycheck as a veterinary assistant.

However, your pay will be lower than other positions within the office.

Veterinary assistants make an average of $15 an hour, with pay ranging from $11 to $19 an hour on average. 

Veterinary techs make an average of $38,000 a year, which is $18 an hour.

Veterinarians make the highest salary, at $100,000 yearly. 

3. Unpleasant Sights and Smells

If you are squeamish, being a veterinary assistant probably isn’t the job for you.

You’ll encounter pee, poop, blood, and vomit on a regular basis.

The sight and smell of these fluids can be gross, to say the least. 

You will likely also see animals that have serious injuries or that have been treated poorly.

This can be tough to deal with. 

4. Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Some of these diseases are serious and potentially deadly.

Rabies, MRSA, and salmonella are a few of these diseases.

When you work with animals as a veterinary assistant, there’s a risk of being exposed to these diseases. 

5. Treating Pets That are Sick or in Pain

While helping pets is one of the beautiful aspects of being a veterinary assistant, you’ll also see them suffering.

As a pet lover, it’s very difficult to see animals in sick or in pain. 

Of course, you’ll have the knowledge that you are helping them, which can ease the burden.

However, it can still take an emotional toll. 

6. Dealing with Death

In addition to healing sick animals, you’ll see some animals that won’t survive.

This can be heartbreaking.

You may be involved in providing euthanasia services, or simply treat a pet that passes on. 

To be a veterinary assistant, you’ll need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with death.  

7. Physically Demanding

Being a veterinary assistant is also physically demanding.

You’ll be on your feet most of the day.

You may also need to lift large animals, or perform other physical tasks.

You may also need to work long hours, which can add to the demanding nature of your job. 

8. Tasks Can Be Dull or Unpleasant

While being a veterinary assistant is far from boring, you will need to complete some dull or unpleasant tasks.

This is true with any career, however. 

 You may need to answer phones, file paperwork, manage the budget, or clean the exam rooms.

You may also clean the kennels and cages.  

These tasks will not be the highlight of your day, but they come with the territory. 

9. Hours Can be Inconvenient

Depending on the type of office you choose to work in, you may need to work some inconvenient hours.

If you work in a vet’s office, it’s unlikely you’ll need to work nights or weekends. 

However, if you work at an animal hospital or other facility that is open 24-7, you may be called in at any time. 

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

Pros of Being a Veterinary AssistantCons of Being a Veterinary Assistant
1. Work Closely With Animals1. You'll Work with People
2. Help Pet Owners2. Salary is Lower Than Other Positions
3. Little or No Education Required3. Unpleasant Sights and Smells
4. Opportunity to Advance Your Career4. Zoonotic Diseases
5. Can Work in a Variety of Settings5. Treating Pets That are Sick or in Pain
6. Experience in the Veterinary Field6. Dealing with Death
7. You Won't Get Bored7. Physically Demanding
8. Job Security8. Tasks Can Be Dull or Unpleasant
9. You'll Be Part of a Team9. Hours Can be Inconvenient
10. Reasonable Pay and Benefits

Should You Become a Veterinary Assistant?

If you are an animal lover who wants to help animals, you should think about being a veterinary assistant.

You’ll get to care for animals and help pet owners.

The position also allows you to move up in the veterinary field, particularly if you want to continue your education. 

However, the pay is not great.

The work is physically demanding.

You’ll be exposed to some disgusting and disturbing things, including blood and vomit.

You’ll also see animals passing away. 

If you love the pros of being a veterinary assistant and can handle the cons, you should go for this career.

However, if you can’t handle the physical and emotional toll of the work, you should consider a different career. 

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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