Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

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.

Sample of reported job titles: Animal Care Provider, Animal Caregiver, Avian Keeper, Certified Veterinary Assistant, Emergency Veterinary Assistant, Inpatient Technician Assistant, Kennel Vet Assistant (Kennel Veterinary Assistant), Research Animal Attendant, Small Animal Caretaker, Veterinarian Assistant (Vet Assistant)

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Hold or restrain animals during veterinary procedures.
  • Monitor animals recovering from surgery and notify veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
  • Fill medication prescriptions.
  • Clean and maintain kennels, animal holding areas, examination or operating rooms, or animal loading or unloading facilities to control the spread of disease.
  • Examine animals to detect behavioral changes or clinical symptoms that could indicate illness or injury.
  • Perform routine laboratory tests or diagnostic tests, such as taking or developing x-rays.
  • Assist veterinarians in examining animals to determine the nature of illnesses or injuries.
  • Administer medication, immunizations, or blood plasma to animals as prescribed by veterinarians.
  • Collect laboratory specimens, such as blood, urine, or feces, for testing.
  • Perform office reception duties, such as scheduling appointments or helping customers.
  • Clean, maintain, and sterilize instruments or equipment.
  • Record information relating to animal genealogy, feeding schedules, appearance, behavior, or breeding.
  • Provide emergency first aid to sick or injured animals.
  • Prepare surgical equipment and pass instruments or materials to veterinarians during surgical procedures.
  • Educate or advise clients on animal health care, nutrition, or behavior problems.
  • Prepare examination or treatment rooms by stocking them with appropriate supplies.
  • Prepare feed for animals according to specific instructions, such as diet lists or schedules.
  • Provide assistance with euthanasia of animals or disposal of corpses.
  • Write reports, maintain research information, or perform clerical duties.
  • Perform hygiene-related duties, such as clipping animals' claws or cleaning and polishing teeth.
  • Perform enemas, catheterizations, ear flushes, intravenous feedings, or gavages.
  • Perform accounting duties, such as bookkeeping, billing customers for services, or maintaining inventories.
  • Exercise animals or provide them with companionship.
  • Place orders to restock inventory of hospital or laboratory supplies.
  • Sell pet food or supplies to customers.
  • Dust, spray, or bathe animals to control insect pests.
  • Administer anesthetics during surgery and monitor the effects on animals.
  • Groom, trim, or clip animals' coats.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • 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 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.
  • Monitoring 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.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 98% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing — 78% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 72% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 80% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others — 67% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections — 71% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone — 67% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 62% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 54% responded “Very close (near touching).”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 63% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 63% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 59% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 64% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 68% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running — 55% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 39% responded “Very important.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 46% responded “Very important results.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 48% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Time Pressure — 45% responded “Every day.”
  • Consequence of Error — 40% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Exposed to Radiation — 40% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Deal With External Customers — 47% responded “Very important.”
  • Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection — 54% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Electronic Mail — 51% responded “Every day.”
  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Kneeling, Crouching, Stooping, or Crawling — 37% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 49% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 51% responded “Important.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 46% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 36% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 43% responded “About half the time.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 34% responded “About half the time.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations — 46% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 36% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Letters and Memos — 23% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 33% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 47% responded “Every day.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Education
These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
Related Experience
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.
Job Training
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, tellers, and dental laboratory technicians.
SVP Range
3 months to 1 year of preparation (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.

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Knowledge

  • 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.
  • Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace 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.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 78%
     
    responded: High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
  • 11%
     
    responded: Post-secondary certificate required
  • 6%
     
    responded: Less than high school diploma required

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Extent Flexibility — The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without "giving out" or fatiguing.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

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Interests

Interest code: RSI
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

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Work Values

  • Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Work Styles

  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$14.32 hourly, $29,780 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
107,200 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Faster than average (10% to 15%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
19,800
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

Related Occupations

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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