There are so many reasons why veterinary assistants are considered essential members of the healthcare team. Not only do they ensure that a veterinary establishment runs smoothly, but they also act as a critical link between pet owners and veterinarians.
In Virginia, veterinary assistants ensure that veterinary technicians and veterinarians can handle the workload. To start the job, veterinary assistants must enroll in a training program.
Those who wish to consider other educational alternatives may also do that. This article aims to outline all the possible pathways to becoming a veterinary assistant in Virginia, along with the certification alternatives and career outlook, among others.
Steps to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Virginia
The following are the steps involved in becoming a veterinary assistant in Virginia.
Step 1: Educational Preparation
All aspiring veterinary assistants in Virginia must prepare themselves for their education by meeting the essential educational prerequisites.
The only provision in this regard is that interested individuals must have a high school diploma before being admitted into a training program. Alternatively, those who don’t have a high school diploma may tender a GED equivalent in its place.
Step 2: Choose an Educational Path
For their actual veterinary assistant training, aspiring veterinary assistants in Virginia may choose to obtain training on the job by applying for vet-assistant-in-training positions. In such an arrangement, they’ll be able to learn everything they need to know on the job, usually under the supervision of vet technicians or more experienced vet assistants.
For better career opportunities, however, attending a formal veterinary training program at an academic institution is advisable. As we’ll see below, Virginia has a few notable vet assistant training programs to choose from.
Moreover, some programs offer a straightforward path to becoming certified by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
Step 3: Consider Certification
Attending a NAVTA-approved training program will give you a straightforward path to getting certified and becoming an Approved Veterinary Assistant. Doing so is not compulsory, but it can help you get high-paying jobs faster while giving you access to continuing education resources.
Step 4: Advance your Career
Apart from becoming certified, there are additional ways to advance your career as a veterinary assistant. One of the most common ways to do this is to join a professional organization. Joining a professional organization offers resources and support. It also brings about the opportunity to network and build professional relationships with the wider veterinary community in Virginia.
Consider exploring careers with similar paths:
Top Veterinary Assistant Schools in Virginia
The following are the top veterinary assistant schools in Virginia.
Tidewater Community College
Tidewater Community College boasts a beautiful veterinary assistant program on its Virginia Beach campus. This program can be completed in two semesters and has a very affordable tuition fee. The program also purposefully maintains a small class size, so it accepts only 15 to 18 students every semester.
Pruden Center for Industrial Technology
Pruden Centre for Industrial Technology is another beautiful destination for high-quality veterinary assistant training in Virginia. The program can be completed in two years, and students learn everything they need, including administrative and clinical instructions.
Other notable mentions include the veterinary assistant training program at Patrick Henry Community College, the veterinary assistant program at Blue Ridge Community College, and the veterinary assistant program at Northern Virginia Community College.
Consider exploring schools in neighboring states:
State Licensure & Certification Requirements
Veterinary assistants in Virginia do not have to obtain a state license or become certified. However, certification does come with its benefits and is highly advisable.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America offers an Approved Veterinary Assistant credential to enable vet assistants nationwide to become nationally certified. To obtain this certification, candidates must get a 75% score in a national examination.
To qualify for the examination, individuals must either graduate from a training program approved by NAVTA or meet the work experience requirements. Applying for the study also costs $100, and the credential must be renewed every other year.
Salary and Career Outlook
An average veterinary assistant in Virginia earns around $37,110 every year. Those in the top 10% earn an annual average salary of $47,517, while those in the bottom 10% take home an average yearly salary of $28,983.
Sorting by experience, veterinary assistants in Virginia with less than one year of experience take home an annual average salary of $35,160, while those with more than ten years of experience take home $43,615 in yearly average wage.
Vet assistants in Vienna are the highest paid in the state (thanks to an annual average salary of $47,147), followed by Alexandria ($43,904), Fairfax ($42,242), Charlottesville ($39,182), and Richmond ($37,218).