How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Pennsylvania

Veterinary assistants in Pennsylvania are capable of working in diverse workplaces. You’ll find them in animal hospitals, research facilities, clinics, shelters, and zoos.

This diversity allows them to pick up knowledge in various areas of veterinary medicine while being versatile enough to deal with different aspects of animal care.

Seeing as a significant number of veterinary assistants go on to pursue even more advanced fields in the veterinary world, the experience accrued during this time is invaluable.

Below, we look at the critical steps required to become a veterinary assistant in Pennsylvania and other important information that all aspiring veterinarian assistants in the state must know to begin their careers.

Steps to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Pennsylvania

Below are the steps required to become a veterinary assistant in Pennsylvania.

Obtain Training in Veterinary Assistant School

The state of Pennsylvania does not mandate academic programs for veterinary assistants. However, several veterinary assistants in the state still choose to attend a formal veterinary assistant school anyway.

Most choose to do so because completing a vet assistant program has benefits, including helping students acquire skills that will prove valuable during employment and providing hands-on experience through laboratory training and externships.

As we’ll see below, the state of Pennsylvania is home to numerous prominent veterinary assistant schools, most accredited by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).

Obtain Training On the Job

Since Pennsylvania does not require veterinary assistants to attend an academic program before they can be employed, it is usually possible to start a veterinary assistant career by obtaining training on the job.

Many veterinary establishments are willing to train fresh candidates by providing hands-on experience under the supervision of veterinary technicians and veterinarians.

Obtain Professional Certification

Veterinary assistants in Pennsylvania obtain professional credentials not because it is the law to do so but because it gives them an edge over the field. Additionally, getting professional certificates as a vet assistant in Pennsylvania is relatively straightforward, especially if you attended a NAVTA-approved program.

Those who do so can simply enroll for the NAVTA Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) examination.

Another alternative certification to consider is the credential offered by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Consider exploring careers with similar paths:

How to become a veterinary technician in Pennsylvania

Top Veterinary Assistant Schools in Pennsylvania

The following are some notable veterinary assistant programs in Pennsylvania.

Lancaster County Career and Technology Center

Lancaster County Career and Technology Center offers a veterinary assistant training program for students of the public high schools in Lancaster County. The program teaches clinical and administrative tasks, animal behavior, and surgical preparation skills.

Franklin County Career and Technology Center

Franklin County Career and Technology Center also offers high school students in the area an opportunity to become veteran assistants through a three-year program. Topics of focus include medical terminology and animal management.

Beaver County Career and Technology Center

At Beaver County Career and Technology Center, students receive veterinary assistant training in an institution that NAVTA accredits. The program makes provision for both adults and high school students.

Dauphin County Technical School

Dauphin County Technical School also offers high school students and adults veterinary assistant training opportunities. Students will learn how to handle and restrain animals, carry out examination procedures, and help with surgical procedures.

Consider exploring schools in neighboring states:

Veterinary assistant schools in New Jersey

State Licensure & Certification Requirements

Like most states in the country, Pennsylvania does not have specific license requirements for veterinary assistants. This means that freshly graduated veterinary assistants in this state may go on to secure employment without obtaining a license or professional certification.

That said, even though there are no official laws compelling them to do so, it is still very beneficial for a veterinary assistant in Pennsylvania to obtain certification.

Aspiring veterinary assistants in Pennsylvania who attend any of the programs above will qualify to apply for the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) credential exam from NAVTA once they graduate.

They must score at least 75% to pass the exam, and their credentials must be renewed every two years.

Salary and Career Outlook

As an aspiring veterinary assistant in Pennsylvania, you may look forward to an annual average salary of $35,952. Certain factors such as credentials, establishment type, and experience may influence how much a veterinary assistant will earn in Pennsylvania.

Thanks to these factors, those who earn the most earn as much as $42,007, while those who make the least earn around $30,770 in annual average salary.

Sorting by location, Paoli ($42,405), Philadelphia ($40,101), and Pittsburgh ($38,927) are the highest-paying cities to be a veterinary assistant in Pennsylvania.

Vet assistants in Wayne and Mount Pocono complete the top five with annual average salaries of $36,619 and $36,343, respectively.