Whether an orangutan needs surgery or a rat performs in a drug trial, veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers help make sure animals’ needs and well-being are looked after. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers perform routine care tasks such as bathing and exercising animals, cleaning and disinfecting facilities, and providing first aid or care after surgery. They work under the supervision of scientists, veterinarians, and veterinary technologists and technicians. They also administer medication, and help restrain animals for examinations and lab procedures. While empathy for animals makes for a good start, there’s often a somber side to animal care. These caregivers treat animals who are sick or have been mistreated and sometimes need to be euthanized. Handling and restraining animals takes physical strength and stamina, but dexterity is also important— especially when handling medical equipment. Good communication skills and an eye for detail are also essential. Work settings for these two fields differ: Veterinary assistants typically work in clinics and animal hospitals, helping treat animals with injuries and illnesses, while laboratory animal caretakers generally work in laboratories where they feed and monitor the animals involved in research. Work hours may be full- or part-time, and often include nights, weekends and holidays. Most workers in these fields have a high school diploma or equivalent, and learn the work on the job.
What they do:
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.
On the job, you would:
Hold or restrain animals during veterinary procedures.
Monitor animals recovering from surgery and notify veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
Fill medication prescriptions.
Arts and Humanities
Math and Science
medicine and dentistry
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Hand and Finger Use
hold or move items with your hands
keep your arm or hand steady
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
McAllister Software Systems AVImark
Practice management software PMS
high school diploma/GED or certificate after high school usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.