Veterinary Assistant Age Requirements

How Old Do You Need to Be to Become a Veterinary Assistant?

While specific legal age requirements for becoming a veterinary assistant may vary by state, the minimum age for vet assistants usually depends on where they choose to apply.

Since some veterinary assistant jobs require employees to handle surgical tools, assist with X-rays, and collect blood, fluid, and tissue samples, most veterinary clinics and animal hospitals prefer to hire candidates who are at least 18 years of age.

High school students between the ages of 15 and 17 may be able to become vet assistants at some clinics, but might only be allowed to perform non-medical animal care tasks during their workday.

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Becoming a Vet Assistant

Wondering what qualifications you need to become a veterinary assistant? Most animal hospitals and clinics expect aspiring vet assistants to have at least a high school diploma, GED or equivalent.

Once you meet this requirement, you can either immediately apply for veterinary assistant jobs near you or gain more experience and education in the vet assistant field before applying.


Many underage hopefuls volunteer at their local animal shelter or veterinary clinic, performing many of the same routine care tasks as vet assistants. If they do well, those who become frequent volunteers may receive veterinary assistant job offers once they turn 18 or graduate high school.


Enrolling in a NAVTA-approved training program is another way to qualify for a veterinary assistant job. Going to trade school is an especially good idea if you want to help vet techs and veterinarians administer medical care in addition to performing standard pet care duties.

How Long is Vet Assistant Training?

You may need to volunteer for a year or more before a veterinary assistant position becomes available at your preferred clinic. Meanwhile, those who undergo supervised training may be able to earn their vet assistant certification and qualify for a job in six to 10 months.

Vet Assistant Requirements

Both underage and 18-year-old applicants can qualify for veterinary assistant jobs, though specific age, education, and experience requirements vary by employer. Check out the job descriptions and hiring criteria at your preferred clinic or animal hospital to learn about their employment conditions.

What is a Veterinary Assistant?

Veterinary assistants perform basic animal care tasks in animal hospitals and veterinary clinics. During their workday, a vet assistant’s duties typically include:

  • Bathing, feeding, and exercising animals
  • Cleaning and disinfecting kennels and animal cages
  • Restraining animals during check-ups and procedures
  • Preparing examination rooms
  • Sterilizing surgical tools and equipment
  • Performing office tasks like scheduling appointments, updating pet medical records, and making follow-up calls to clients