vet tech with dog.

If you’re someone who wants a job that allows you to help animals and make a difference, working in the veterinary medical field could be the perfect fit for you. As the number of pet owners continues to grow—73% of millennials currently have a pet— veterinary clinics and hospitals will need more help than ever before. With that in mind, there’s a lot of opportunity for starting a new career, but where do you begin? Here’s what education, experience, and a credential can do for your future veterinary career.

What education do you need to work in a vet clinic?

The regulations for who can work in certain veterinary careers can vary depending on your work experience, the job you want, and the state you live in. While some positions may not require any education and others can require industry-specific certification, many employers at vet clinics and hospitals prefer to hire those who do have relevant experience or education on their resume. Jobs in the field can include

  • Veterinary assistant. Vet assistants play an important role on the veterinary healthcare team by supporting and assisting veterinarians and veterinary technicians in day-to-day tasks. You’ll often be responsible for tasks like restraining animals during exams and procedures, monitoring animals post-surgery, and some administrative tasks. While it’s not required to have a degree or background in the job to get an entry-level position, having the relevant education and certifications on your resume can help you get your foot in the door more easily and stand out among other applicants.

  • Veterinary technician. Veterinary technicians are vital to a well-run, successful clinic, assisting the veterinarian with exams, lab work, or procedures. Because of the work they do, they need to have a full understanding of the medical needs of animals, as well as basics like anatomy and pharmacology. While some states don’t require vet techs to be licensed to work in the field, many veterinary practices prefer credentialed techs. For the states that do have specific rules regarding who can work in the field, earning a degree as a veterinary technician and passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is a must to be hired. Veterinary technicians may also be required to complete regular continuing education programs to ensure they stay on top of changes and developments in the industry.

  • Veterinary practice manager. Practice managers focus on the business side of the veterinary industry, ensuring the office is run well and the vet assistants and vet techs understand their daily responsibilities. Becoming a practice manager doesn’t necessarily require a full formal education, but most clinics or hospitals would prefer hiring managers who know their way around the clinic and understand the work of each role in the practice. Further, veterinary practice managers who have become certified may have an easier time finding a job in the field than those who aren’t certified.

Why earn a diploma or degree in the veterinary field

If some jobs in the veterinary industry don’t require formal education, should you pursue training or learn on the job if you’re hired at a clinic? Absolutely! Besides preparing you to understand what the job entails, education can only be helpful when you’re looking to start a new career. If you don’t have experience in a clinic or hospital setting, education in the job you want can make up for that. Earning a veterinary assistant diploma or completing an AVMA-accredited veterinary technician associate degree can help you stand out from other applicants and assure the hiring manager that you are passionate about the field.

Additionally, having a formal education can make a difference in how much you can earn. A veterinary practice is likely to pay a credentialed veterinary technician more than one who hasn’t earned credentials.

Prepare for the job you want with our online Veterinary Academy

Whether you’re new to the veterinary field or are looking to advance your career at your clinic, earning a diploma or degree can make a difference. With the programs in Penn Foster’s Veterinary Academy, you can learn the foundational knowledge from home, on your schedule, and gain important hands-on training through externships. Find out more about which veterinary healthcare program is right for you by contact our Admissions Specialists at 1-888-427-6500.