How To Become a Veterinary Assistant in California

Veterinary Assistants help save animal lives and bring joy to countless pet owners every day. To anyone with a genuine love and passion for animals, a career in the field is always enticing.

If you fall into this category and would like to pursue a career as a veterinary assistant in California, you would be glad to know that the process is quite straightforward and rewarding.

Not only is there a clear framework for how to go about it, but veterinary assistants in California are also some of the highest-paid in the country. So how exactly do you go about becoming a veterinary assistant in California? We provide an in-depth guide below.

Steps to Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in California

Becoming a veterinary assistant involves acquiring specialized skills and certification. The steps to becoming a veterinary assistant in California include:

Step 1: Fulfilling the Prerequisites

While the state of California itself does not have any specific requirements for aspiring veterinary assistants, particular schools and programs do. Among these is the need for all applicants to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

Foundational knowledge of a few high school subjects and courses may also come in handy along the way.

Step 2: Training & Education

The most important step to becoming a veterinary assistant is to obtain the training and education required to carry out your roles and responsibilities to the highest level. There are two options: a 9-month certificate program or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Naturally, most people gravitate towards the certificate because it is easier to obtain, doesn’t last as long as the other option, and can equip you with everything you need to secure employment.

Before you enroll in a training program, provide enough hands-on experience training. Accreditation is also great, but it is not a deal breaker in this case. The state has no rigid programmatic requirement for practicing as a vet assistant.

However, If you have a particular certification in mind, you must consider enrolling in the right accredited program.

Step 3: California Veterinary Assistant Certification

The state of California does not mandate certification for veterinary assistants. However, becoming an approved veterinary assistant (AVA) has its fair share of benefits, which is always a good idea.

  • Approved Veterinary Assistant - The authorized veterinary assistant is one of the foremost nationwide certification programs. It is administered by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). To qualify, candidates must attend an accredited training program and complete an internship or externship.

The Penn Foster training program is the only veritable alternative for getting AVA-certified in California.

  • Certified Veterinary Assistant - The California Veterinary Medical Association offers a Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA) certification for veterinary assistants in the state. The association provides training and also helps with securing employment.

Step 4: Securing Employment

Upon graduation and certification, the next step is securing employment and putting your training to work. The following are some of California’s most common paths to getting employed as a veterinary assistant.

Potential Veterinary Assistant Employers in California

  • The California Veterinary Medical Association doesn’t just offer a CVA certification, and they also help members secure suitable employment.
  • Californian veterinary assistants may also secure employment through the Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), an association committed to providing veterinary care all over California.
  • Another notable option is the Vetco Wellness Center and Vaccination Clinics inside PETCO locations. The organization operates in numerous places around California, including Fresno, Hollywood, Modesto, and Sacramento.

California Veterinary Assistant Schools & Programs

Below is a list of some of California’s most noteworthy veterinary assistant training programs.

  • PIMA Medical Institute, San Diego - The Chula Vista campus of the PIMA medical institute offers a veterinary assistant training program that can be completed in nine months.
  • OCVAS, Orange County - Owned by registered vet techs and veterinarians, the OC Veterinary Assistant school also offers a quality training program with possible job placement upon graduation.
  • Yuba College - Yuba College offers a free online veterinary assistant program to California residents.
  • Penn Foster College - Penn Foster College is notable because it is one of the only programs around that can help graduates in California obtain approved veterinary assistant (AVA) certification.

Veterinary Assistant Salary & Career Outlook in California

California boasts of having the highest employment rate for veterinary assistants nationwide. The state also boasts some of the highest-paying cities and locations nationwide.

On average, veterinary assistants in California can look to earn an annual average salary of around $35,000. Those on the lower end of the spectrum still have at least $28,000, while their salary can get as high as $42,000.

Grouped by city, vet assistants in San Jose earn the most with an annual average salary of $39,940, while San Francisco and Oakland follow with annual average wages of $39,781 and $37,872, respectively.

Los Angeles and Anaheim are the top five highest-paying cities with $35,993 and $35,564 average annual salaries.