Pickens Technical College Veterinary Assistant Pathway: Hiring Crunch

Veterinary assistants are in hot demand. That’s probably not why you chose to enroll in Pickens Technical College’s Veterinary Assistant program, but it’s good to know what kind of job market you’ll be introduced to after you graduate.

The love of animals draws many people from all walks of life to join the veterinary field. Many, like you, get their start as assistants because it offers an easier entry point into the industry of animal care and allows them to get experience while learning on the job. Still, there is great demand right now for motivated individuals who want to help save and protect animals.

View from the Other Side

After you graduate from Pickens, you’ll be sitting across the table from hiring managers at veterinary clinics and other animal healthcare facilities. Learning what their perspective is on hiring good veterinary assistants is a good way to get your foot in the door and get a leg up on your competition for the same jobs.

According to Katie Burns, a writer for the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the job market has turned around since the dark days of the Great Recession. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found that only 1.6% veterinarians reported being unemployed in 2017, and animal care facilities across the country are scrambling to fill positions.

From the employer’s perspective, they want big applicant fields for their advertised positions. They want to be able to choose from a long list of candidates, even for veterinary assistant positions, to ensure they get the best new-hire. But interest in open veterinary positions is dropping. Colorado, according to the AVMA, doesn’t have the highest supply/demand ratio for veterinary staff in the country, but demand for veterinary workers is still estimated as more than double the supply.

What You Can Do

Colorado isn’t in as dire of a situation as California, for example, but you’ll still have the benefit of too many positions and not enough qualified veterinary assistants. Leverage this advantage by searching far and wide for the perfect situation for your first job in the veterinary medical industry. You can also use the state of the market to negotiate a better starting salary. As with all companies, hiring satisfied, fairly-paid employees and retaining them is much cheaper than cycling through several new-hires in the same position. Use the favorable job market to your advantage.

Many veterinary facilities don’t hire many full-time veterinarians. Most vet offices are relatively small operations. You may have to accept a part-time position at one of these facilities when you first graduate from Pickens, simply because while many facilities need technicians and assistants, they don’t necessarily want all their employees on a full-time schedule. There are larger veterinary companies in the state, however, that might be more open to hiring more full-time staff to meet demand for their services. A large employer of veterinarians, technicians, and assistants is VCA Animal Hospitals, which has several facilities in and around the Denver metro area.

Study hard, learn the craft of caring for animals, and you should have a good chance of finding that first job that will lead you to a long career in the veterinary field.

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