Is Becoming a Vet Assistant Right for You?

If you love animals and you want a challenging and rewarding career, becoming a veterinary assistant might be the job for you. As a veterinary assistant, you will use all your skills to complete daily responsibilities with the ultimate goal of establishing and supporting pets’ health and wellbeing. Capable veterinary assistants balance multiple duties and manage pet care and owners’ expectations through their passion for animals and key personality traits ideal for the veterinary field.

What personality traits does a vet assistant need?

There are a variety of desired personality traits that every veterinary assistant should possess. Here are some of the essential qualities veterinarians look for in their assistants:

  • Confidence – Veterinarian nurses must think fast and make quick decisions, meaning they need confidence in their abilities and skills. Often, nurses are assigned pet clients separate from the clinic’s care team, and confidence in their ability to work with pets and their owners is vital to a successful career.
  • Empathy – Pets are often brought to the vet clinic because they are injured, in pain, or ill. They can act out, and their owners may be overwrought with emotion. Veterinary assistants need to have empathy for the injured pet and its frightened owner. Being sympathetic will help both the pet you are working with and reassure the worried owner in the room.
  • Resilience – Improving and even saving pets’ lives are uplifting moments of a veterinary assistant’s career. Unfortunately, some animals need to be euthanised, and others don’t make it through surgery. These are difficult moments for an animal lover to witness, but a nurse or assistant needs to separate their feelings and do their job. Resiliency is necessary for you, the pet, and the pet’s owner.
  • Dedication – Veterinary assistants work long hours, especially when emergencies occur, and the work often involves many physical demands. Commitment to the job, even on the hardest days, will give you a sense of purpose. 
  • Patience – Vet clinics can be hectic, chaotic places at times, full of scared animals in pain and emotional owners. Nurses and assistants need to exercise patience at all times, no matter how busy things are and no matter how difficult a pet is acting. 

Other important qualities in a veterinary assistant include meticulousness, adaptability, respect, and creativity. 

What are the educational requirements in this field?

You can become a veterinary assistant or nurse by taking coursework and graduating with a diploma in Pet Care/Vet Assistant from the International Career Institute. In less than a year, you can earn your degree and start your career. Graduates can choose from a variety of animal-related fields to work in, such as veterinary clinics, animal welfare organisations, wildlife parks and zoos, and veterinary pharmaceutical companies

Veterinary assistants and nurses need to enrol with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the veterinary regulatory body in the United Kingdom to legally participate in certain surgeries and procedures.

What career progressions are available for a vet assistant?

After becoming a veterinary assistant, you may want to know what career progressions are available if you wish to grow within this field. Applying to university and completing a veterinary degree, typically a 5-year process, will allow you to become a practising veterinarian. All veterinarians will need to register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

You may choose to work in a general veterinary practise or go back to university for advanced postgraduate degrees in specialties such as dermatology, acupuncture, or cardiology. Dedicating your career to research or teaching are other career avenues open to veterinarians. 

What are a vet assistant’s role responsibilities?

A veterinary assistant is responsible for a wide variety of role responsibilities. Some of the vital duties associated with this field are:

  • Administering medications and vaccinations to pets
  • Assisting with x-rays
  • Preparing pets for surgery
  • Booking appointments and answer calls
  • Sterilising surgical instruments and medical equipment
  • Applying bandages to fractures and wounds
  • Keeping careful and accurate records
  • Familiarising yourself with pets’ information and notes from previous appointments
  • Providing information and educating owners
  • Giving feed, water, and fresh bedding to pets in your care
  • Assisting with euthanasia
  • Observing pets during and after surgery
  • Giving medications and immunisations to animals
  • Restraining animals during examinations, treatments, and operations
  • Assisting veterinarians during surgery
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Cleaning and sanitising kennels, cages, exam and waiting rooms
  • Exercising pets staying at the clinic

These are standard duties that a nurse or assistant can deal with daily and that prevent the job from becoming predictable.

Start your career in veterinary care with ICI UK

Would you like to work with animals as a career? Do you have some of the qualities needed in a veterinary assistant? If this job appeals to you, visit the International Career Institute’s website and learn about our Pet Care/Vet Assistant courses and diploma. Don’t wait to make a difference in animals’ lives. Enrol in ICI UK today and start building a career with purpose and meaning.

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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.