The role of veterinarian assistants in Illinois — as well as any other country — involves carrying out clinical and administrative duties ranging from maintaining patient records to administering minor treatment.
Another exciting part of being a veterinary assistant is that it can lead to significant career advancement that may even culminate in kickstarting a career as a veterinarian.
However, regardless of your final aim for becoming a veterinary assistant in Illinois, you must become familiar with some critical information before beginning your career.
We look at all of these below, including educational requirements, licensure and certification, and possible salary.
Steps to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Illinois
Aspiring veterinary assistants in Illinois must follow the steps below to start their careers correctly.
Have a High School Diploma or GED
Illinois leaves educational and certification requirements to employers when hiring veterinary assistants in the state. Incidentally, most employers set a high school diploma or GED as the minimal educational qualification required of their vet assistants.
Select a Training Alternative
Aspiring veterinary assistants in Illinois can begin their careers by enrolling in an approved vet assistant school or obtaining on-the-job training.
Training from Vet Assistant Schools
One of the benefits of obtaining veterinary assistant training from a vet school is that students earn diplomas and certificates and make themselves more appealing to employers. Those who attend accredited schools may also qualify for professional credentials.
Below, we list some of Illinois’s most prominent vet assistant schools.
As an alternative to attending a veterinary assistant training school, interested candidates may choose to obtain on-the-job training by working under the supervision of licensed veterinary technicians and veterinarians.
Consider Certification Alternatives
Like academic programs, professional certification may not be mandatory for a veterinary assistant in Illinois, but it has its benefits.
For instance, having a professional credential from NAVTA can give candidates an edge over their competition when seeking employment. It also paves the way for continuing education and acquiring more skills for career growth.
The most suitable NAVTA accreditation for veterinary assistants in Illinois to go for is the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) credential. Those who want an alternative to this may go for the certification offered by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Top Veterinary Assistant Schools in Illinois
The best destinations to receive veterinary assistant training in Illinois include:
College of Lake County
College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, is a NAVTA-accredited veterinary assistant program offering high-quality vet assistant training for individuals all over the state. The program includes 2016 classroom training and 100 hours of clinical externship.
Graduates of the program would have received all the training they need to secure employment and become successful veterinary assistants. Thanks to the certification opportunities, graduates also have the chance to improve their career opportunities and pursue advanced specializations.
Penn Foster Career School
Aspiring veterinary assistants in Illinois looking for a training program accredited by NAVTA may want to look online for more flexibility. One of the best online certified training programs for veterinary assistants is the one offered by the Penn Foster Career School.
Like any offline program, the school teaches crucial veterinary assistant topics and helps students obtain the skills needed to receive their AVA certifications and secure employment.
State Licensure & Certification Requirements
The state of Illinois does not set a licensure requirement for veterinary assistants. It does not require them to obtain certification, either.
Usually, as highlighted earlier, candidates choose to obtain certification thanks to the array of benefits it provides. Currently, the most popular credential for fresh veterinary assistants in Illinois to consider is the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) credential from NAVTA.
NAVTA approves most of the training schools highlighted above and thus provides a direct route to sitting for the AVA certification exam.
Candidates must obtain a score of at least 75% to pass the exam. They must also renew their credentials by receiving ten continuing education instruction credits every two years.
Salary and Career Outlook
The annual average salary for veterinary assistants in Illinois is $37,045. Of course, earning below or above this figure is possible, depending on several factors, including experience, employer, and certification.
Vet assistants who earn the most in the state earn an annual average salary of $46,729, while those at the lower end earn an average yearly salary of $29,368.
Chicago is the highest-paying city for veterinary assistants in Illinois, with an annual average salary of $43,802. Vernon Hills and Bloomington follow with average yearly salaries of $39,913 and $38,087.
Evergreen Park and Naperville round up the top five with annual average salaries of $37,503 and $35,102.