A compassionate and supportive career

Having a job as an animal care assistant is an enriching experience. You’ll provide support to animals, clients and the rest of your veterinary team. In addition to performing a high level of supportive nursing care, veterinary care assistants also learn and develop the skills required to educate owners on maintaining their pets’ health. 

VCAs will also learn technical skills enabling the undertaking of a range of basic diagnostic tests, and supportive care procedures for the patient. Once qualified, VCAs can use their qualification to progress onto the Veterinary Nursing qualification, or continue to work as a valuable VCA in practice.

Get started in your veterinary career:

If you’re interested in entering into a career as a VCA, one of the first things you can do is start to build up a CV of animal-related work experience.

To find out a bit more about how to get started on a career in veterinary nursing the BVNA website has some excellent information on VCA training. 

What does an animal care assistant do?

An animal care assistant job description can vary but fundamentally they are an extension of the clinical team, supporting both the vet and vet nurse teams. There are even several names for the role including; veterinary care assistant, patient care assistant and animal care assistant.

The specific duties this role will involve vary depending on the practice or hospital, but they are generally responsible for looking after animals in the care of the practice. This can include:

- Ensuring patients are comfortable and clean.

- Taking patients out for exercise.

- Supporting vets and nurses in handling animals during consults or before surgeries.

- Helping the rest of the veterinary team, perhaps running diagnostic tests, speaking to owners, and other duties that support the running of the practice or hospital.

- Cleaning after operations and consults and keeping the practice organised and sanitary.

- Dispensing medication to clients once prescribed by the vet.

Gaining relevant qualifications:

Finding an animal care assistant job may not require relevant qualifications if you have enough relevant experience, but these are also a good way to develop skills and knowledge that will help you start your career in the veterinary industry. You may be able to begin a succesful career as a veterinary care assistant without any specific qualifications and just based on transferrable skills from volunteering or other work experience. Volunteering with animal charities such as a local animal rescue is a great way to develop useful skills for this role.

If you’re looking for a veterinary assistant course or to find a way of becoming a veterinary care assistant,  vet assistant courses are taught at further education colleges and private veterinary nurse training providers throughout the country. Some of these places may offer the opportunity to study veterinary assistant courses online. To apply for VCA courses, you normally won’t need any formal qualifications. If you undertake the course as an apprentice, then you will need to be employed in practice for 30 hours a week or more.

The VCA qualification can be accessed as an apprenticeship or as a Level 2 Diploma, and via day release or block release. Once you have achieved your VCA qualification or have spent time in practice working as a VCA, you may wish to progress to a becoming a registered veterinary nurse. However, being a VCA is a fufilling and valuable career in its own right which can be really rewarding.

"My favourite part must be caring for animals during and after their operations. From the moment they come into surgery to when they head back home—it gives me a profound sense of achievement"

Cherly Dale, kennel assistant at Alexander Vets
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Want to work with us?

We are always on the look out for motivated and enthusiastic veterinary care assistants to join one of our practice teams. Check out our current vacancies.