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Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers
SOC Code: 31-9096.00

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 post-operative 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.

Sample of reported job titles: Animal Care Provider, Animal Caregiver, Avian Keeper, Emergency Veterinary Assistant, Research Animal Attendant, Small Animal Caretaker, Technician Assistant, Veterinarian Assistant, Veterinary Assistant (Vet Assistant), Veterinary Technician Assistant (Vet Tech Assistant)


  • Hold or restrain animals during veterinary procedures.
  • Clean and maintain kennels, animal holding areas, examination or operating rooms, or animal loading or unloading facilities to control the spread of disease.
  • Fill medication prescriptions.
  • Assist veterinarians in examining animals to determine the nature of illnesses or injuries.
  • Monitor animals recovering from surgery and notify veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
  • Clean, maintain, and sterilize instruments or equipment.
  • Examine animals to detect behavioral changes or clinical symptoms that could indicate illness or injury.
  • Educate or advise clients on animal health care, nutrition, or behavior problems.
  • Administer medication, immunizations, or blood plasma to animals as prescribed by veterinarians.
  • Collect laboratory specimens, such as blood, urine, or feces, for testing.
  • Prepare surgical equipment and pass instruments or materials to veterinarians during surgical procedures.
  • Prepare feed for animals according to specific instructions, such as diet lists or schedules.
  • Provide emergency first aid to sick or injured animals.
  • Perform routine laboratory tests or diagnostic tests, such as taking or developing x-rays.
  • Exercise animals or provide them with companionship.
  • Prepare examination or treatment rooms by stocking them with appropriate supplies.
  • Provide assistance with euthanasia of animals or disposal of corpses.
  • Record information relating to animal genealogy, feeding schedules, appearance, behavior, or breeding.
  • Perform office reception duties, such as scheduling appointments or helping customers.
  • Perform hygiene-related duties, such as clipping animals' claws or cleaning and polishing teeth.
  • Perform accounting duties, such as bookkeeping, billing customers for services, or maintaining inventories.
  • 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.
  • Perform enemas, catheterizations, ear flushes, intravenous feedings, or gavages.
  • Write reports, maintain research information, or perform clerical duties.
  • Groom, trim, or clip animals' coats.

Technology Skills

  • Calendar and scheduling software - Scheduling software
  • Data base user interface and query software - Microsoft Access
  • Electronic mail software - Microsoft Outlook
  • Label making software - Labeling software
  • Medical software - IDEXX Laboratories IDEXX Cornerstone; McAllister Software Systems AVImark; Practice management software PMS
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Animal catching devices - Animal restraints
  • Animal shearing or clipping equipment - Animal razors; Electric animal clippers
  • Animal weighing scales - Electronic animal scales
  • Bandage scissors or its supplies - Bandage scissors
  • Bar code reader equipment - Microchip readers
  • Benchtop centrifuges
  • Binocular light compound microscopes - Optical compound microscopes
  • Blood collection syringes
  • Chemical or gas sterilizers - Chemical sterilizers
  • Clothes dryers - Commercial dryers
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital cameras
  • Full body immersion hydrotherapy baths or tanks - Veterinary immersion hydrotherapy equipment
  • Gas anesthesia apparatus - Veterinary anesthesia machines
  • Handheld refractometers or polarimeters - Handheld refractometers
  • Hematology analyzers
  • Intravenous tubing with catheter administration kits - Intravenous IV administration sets
  • Label making machines - Label printers
  • Laboratory beakers - Glass beakers
  • Laboratory forceps
  • Laundry type washing machines - Commercial washing machines
  • Medical acoustic stethoscope or accessory - Mechanical stethoscopes
  • Medical picture archiving computer systems PACS - Retriever PACS
  • Medical radiological shielding aprons or masks or drapes - Lead aprons
  • Medical radiological shielding gloves - Lead gloves
  • Medical x ray darkroom equipment or supplies - X ray film processors
  • Medical x ray film or cassette - X ray cassettes
  • Medical x ray units for general diagnostic use - Digital veterinary x ray equipment; Stationary veterinary x ray equipment
  • Microcentrifuges - Microhematocrit centrifuges
  • Microscope slides
  • Multipurpose or general test tubes - General purpose laboratory test tubes
  • Muzzles
  • Notebook computers - Laptop computers
  • Personal computers
  • Protective gloves - Bite gloves
  • Special purpose telephones - Multi-line telephone systems
  • Specimen collection container - Specimen collection containers
  • Steam autoclaves or sterilizers - Steam autoclaves
  • Suture removers - Suture scissors
  • Tablet counters - Pill counters
  • Tourniquets
  • Urinalysis analyzers - Urine analysis equipment; Urinometers
  • Vacuum blood collection tubes or containers - Evacuated blood collection tubes
  • Veterinary blood pressure testers - Veterinary blood pressure cuffs
  • Veterinary clinical thermometers - Digital veterinary thermometers
  • Veterinary injection or suction units or accessories - Balling guns; Injection syringes; Veterinary vaccination syringes
  • Veterinary nail trimmers or cutters - Animal nail clippers


  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Sales and Marketing - Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.


  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.


  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Trunk Strength - The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.


  • Interest code: RSI
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
    • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
    • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Work Context

  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 100% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others - 95% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 93% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 75% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Physical Proximity - 61% responded “Very close (near touching).”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 59% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections - 69% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants - 66% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 73% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 39% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Telephone - 65% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 47% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings - 58% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 58% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 48% responded “Very important results.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 37% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 40% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body - 38% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Consequence of Error - 43% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Exposed to Radiation - 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 32% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 31% responded “Very important.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running - 29% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions - 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 27% responded “Very important.”
  • Time Pressure - 51% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection - 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People - 33% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 27% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Kneeling, Crouching, Stooping, or Crawling - 43% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 32% responded “Continually or almost continually.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
34%High school diploma or equivalent
33%Associate's degree
14%Some college, no degree

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $12.57 hourly, $26,140 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 84,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Much faster than average (15% or higher)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 15,500

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