No state in the US has any educational requirements for working as a veterinary ASSISTANT. This is an entry level-position in a veterinary facility and training is generally done on the job. Because most training is done on the job it is often very cursory and lacks the depth and breadth of a formal education. Veterinary assistants are generally taught the basic how-to but not the why or when you would do something different. They tend to do basic tasks such as animal restraint, basic care and sanitation, assist in patient monitoring, prepare instruments for use in surgeries or daily treatments, they may give medication as prescribed by the veterinarian, collect biological samples and perform basic diagnostic tests like reading fecals. Veterinary assistants are generally not the equivalent of a formally educated veterinary technician.
There are voluntary educational opportunities, however these are not equivalent to a college degree program and are instead basic vocational training. There is no over-sight by a professional body to ensure that the majority of these programs provide adequate or correct information. There is no requirement for hands-on training and instructors often have little or no experience or education in the veterinary field. There are a handful of certification programs that are designed and approved by veterinary professional organizations or that are offered by colleges which also offer accredited veteirnary technology programs and these are better choices for someone who wants to be a veterinary assistant.
Veterinary technicians are required (in most states) to have a 2 year degree in veterinary technology from an AVMA accredited veterinary technology program, to have passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam and a state exam in order to be credentialed. They are also generally required to attend a set number of continuing education courses each year to keep up with changes in veterinary medicine. Veterinary technicians are educated in veterinary anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, animal husbandry, surgical assisting, anesthesia, medical nursing, diagnostics such as radiology and ultrasonography, clinical pathology, parasitology, medical terminology and record keeping, biological collection and sample handling and preperation, etc. They can also specialize in areas such as emergency and critical care, internal medicine, anesthesia, dentistry, behavior and equine nursing.
The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a list of accredited degree programs on their website: Innhttp://www.avma.org/education/cvea/vette…
In some states, the use of the title "veterinary technician" and the practice of veterinary technology is recognized as profession and licensure is required. In other states, veterinary technicians are registered or certified. The laws that govern veterinary technicians vary from state to state so for specific information on the laws a person should check their state veterinary practice act or contact their state veterinary licensing board.
Whether your state REQUIRES credentialing to work as a veterinary technician, the education is never "a waste of time". Consider that veterinary technicians make life and death decisions concerning the care of your (and other clients') pets every day. Don't you think that the people being paid to make those sorts of decisions and provide health care for your pet should actually KNOW about veterinary care and nursing?
The exact differences between what a veterinary assistant and a veterinary technician can do in your state, you would need to check the state veterinary practice act. This is because each state sets it's own laws governing the practice of veterinary medicine so what is legal in one state may not be in another.
Veterinary assistants tend to make close to minimum wage. Veterinary technicians will generally make more due to their education and increased abilities, but it is still not a great paying job. To find out numbers for your state, you should contact your state veterinary technician association or veterinary medical association as pay scales vary from state to state.
The daily workload can vary greatly depending on the type of practice you work in and the area of the country you are in. Most often the workload will be variable in any practice--some days will be like a wild rollercoaster ride while others are so boring and slow that you have a hard time staying awake.
A very general list of things that a veterinary technician would do would include collecting patient histories, collect biological samples (blood, urine, feces, etc), running diagnostic tests, monitoring and medicating hospitalized animals, assisting in surgery, administering and monitoring anesthesia, performing dental cleanings, providing treatment for outpatients as prescribed by the attending veterinarian, filling prescriptions, answering client questions on preventative medicine, disease processes, medica