How to become a Vet Assistant

As the name suggests, a Vet Assistant assists a veterinarian in treating and caring for animals. They work under the supervision of a vet or veterinary nurse and provide vital support to the veterinary practice.

If you’re an animal lover, becoming a Vet Assistant could be your first step to a career in caring for animals. So let’s look at what the rewards are, what you’d be doing and the qualifications you’ll need.

Duties of a Vet Assistant

Tasks performed by a Vet Assistant include but are not limited to;

  • Holding animals while the vet examines and treats them
  • Preparing animals for surgery
  • Handing the vet the instruments they require during operations
  • Administering anaesthetic and oxygen during operations
  • Monitoring the condition of animals following surgery
  • Giving medications to animals
  • Maintaining the veterinary practice stock and records
  • Providing pet owners with animal care advice
  • Acting as a receptionist, answering the phone and performing clerical work for the practice.
  • Greeting animals and their owners on arrival
  • Feeding and caring for animals who stay overnight at the practice
  • Sending blood, urine and tissue samples to the lab for testing
  • Administering first aid to sick or injured animals
  • Cleaning and sterilising examination tables, equipment, rooms, cages and kennels.

Benefits of becoming a Vet Assistant

If you love animals, the biggest benefit of all to being a Vet Assistant is that you’ll get to be around them constantly every day. Other benefits also include;

Competitive salary – the average salary for a Vet Assistant in Australia is around $53,500 per year.

Job security – there is a strong demand for veterinary workers of all kinds and the demand is expected to grow as more Australians adopt pets.

Lots of variety – there is nothing boring about being a Vet Assistant, as there are different animals with different needs requiring your help every single day.

Job satisfaction – as well as helping animals, you are also helping their owners and this can provide you with a sense of pride and achievement that you won’t find in many other careers.

Chance to specialise – you have the option to work with domestic animals such as dogs and cats or you can go on to specialise in other forms of animal care such as large animals, exotic species or native wildlife.

Unlimited career options – you have the option of studying to become a Veterinary Nurse or even a Veterinary Surgeon. Becoming a Vet Assistant also opens the door to plenty of other animal care options including zookeepers, pet shop owners, pet groomers, animal trainers and animal welfare officers.

Useful skills & personality traits

Obviously, the most important talent you can have for a career as a Vet Assistant is a love for animals of all kinds and the ability to relate and interact well with them.

Other skills and personality traits that would stand you in good stead might include;

  • Compassionate and caring nature
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Good communication skills for dealing with pet owners (often in times of stress)
  • Good time management
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • An aptitude for science and maths if you plan to further your career in animal medicine
  • A passion for continuous learning due to the constantly evolving nature of the pet industry.

Becoming a Vet Assistant

The entry-level qualification for a Vet Assistant in Australia is Certificate II in Animal Studies, which can be obtained while you are still at school. This can be followed by Certificate III in Animal Studies and, if you wish to become a Veterinary Nurse, a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to study Certificate II in Animal Studies while you were at school and you are considering becoming a Vet Assistant, a good way to fast track your learning is to undertake ICI’s Diploma of Pet Care and Vet Assisting.

This online course will give you a thorough understanding of the role performed by a Vet Assistant and the chance to learn the ropes from qualified industry professionals.

Approaching your local veterinary practice and volunteering for work experience can also give you a practical insight into the world of veterinary care and provide valuable prior learning recognition.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.