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Career Profile: 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.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 107,200 people employed as veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers in the United States. The median annual salary is $29,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $21,570 per year and senior employees earn approximately $41,080 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
107,200
Annual Openings:
19,800
Increase in Openings by 2030:
14%
Annual Salary Range:
$21,570 - $41,080
Education Requirements:
High school diploma