Veterinary assistants, also known as VAs, help both veterinarians and technicians in the treatment of animal illnesses. They spend most of their time with animals and their owners so one of the key requirements is an unconditional love for animals of all shapes and sizes. The Veterinary Assistant handles front desk work and acts as the primary contact for the owners of the animals. They are also the first ones to check them in and understand the problems so that it can be properly conveyed to the Veterinarian prior to examination. Therefore, Veterinary Assistants need to maintain a positive attitude and be able to reassure animal owners about the care of their pet, as many consider them part of their extended family. Their salary and job depends on how successful they are at these tasks. With that said, how much is a Veterinary Assistant salary?
- 1 Avereage Veterinary Assistant Salary
- 2 Industries with the Highest Veterinary Assistant Pay
- 3 Best Paying States for Veterinary Assistants
- 4 States with the Lowest Veterinary Assistant Wages
- 5 Top Paying Metropolitan Cities for Veterinary Assistants
- 6 Highest Non-Metropolitan Areas for Veterinary Assistants
- 7 Highest Veterinary Assistant Employment Level by States
- 8 Job Outlook
- 9 Veterinary Assistant Job Description
- 10 How to Become a Veterinary Assistant
Avereage Veterinary Assistant Salary
Average annual salary of Veterinary Assistants is about $25k in the United States. In terms of percentile, the hourly wage can range from a little over $8 an hour in the lower range and $17 in the 90th percentile. When you’re starting out, expect the starting salary to be in the lower to mid percentile.
Industries with the Highest Veterinary Assistant Pay
The museums, historical Sites, and similar institution industry is by far the best paying for Veterinary Assistants with an average annual salary of $64k. This is followed by the local government at around $39k-$40k per year.
|Rank||Industries||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
|1||Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions||$30.96||$1,238||$5,367||$64,400||180|
|2||Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals||$19.18||$767||$3,325||$39,900||500|
|3||Local government, including schools and hospitals||$18.99||$760||$3,292||$39,500||500|
|4||Federal, State, and Local Government, excluding state and local schools and hospitals, and the US Postal Service||$17.74||$710||$3,075||$36,900||600|
|6||Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing||$17.16||$687||$2,975||$35,700||200|
|7||General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (including private, state, and local government hospitals)||$17.07||$683||$2,958||$35,500||400|
|8||General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, Privately owned||$17.07||$683||$2,958||$35,500||400|
|9||Educational Services, Privately owned||$16.92||$677||$2,933||$35,200||2,000|
|10||Colleges, universities, and professional schools, Privately owned||$16.92||$677||$2,933||$35,200||2,000|
Best Paying States for Veterinary Assistants
The state with the highest VA salary is the District of Columbia at a little over $17 an hour. Massachusetts was the only other state to have an average hourly wage over $15. For a full list, see veterinary assistant salary by state.
|Rank||Salaries by States||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
|1||District of Columbia||$17.31||$692||$3,000||$36,000||200|
States with the Lowest Veterinary Assistant Wages
If your salary is a huge concern, definitely pay attention to states where the salaries are not so great. This may guide you in your decision on where you can potentially find work. All 10 of the worst paying states had salaries between $20k-$22k.
Rank Salaries by States Hourly Wage Weekly Wage Monthly Salary Annual Salary Employment Level 1 Kentucky $9.62 $385 $1,667 $20,000 1,000 2 Utah $9.86 $394 $1,708 $20,500 200 3 South Dakota $9.95 $398 $1,725 $20,700 200 4 Louisiana $10.10 $404 $1,750 $21,000 1,000 5 Iowa $10.14 $406 $1,758 $21,100 500 6 Missouri $10.29 $412 $1,783 $21,400 2,000 7 Mississippi $10.29 $412 $1,783 $21,400 800 8 North Dakota $10.34 $413 $1,792 $21,500 100 9 Florida $10.58 $423 $1,833 $22,000 4,000 10 West Virginia $10.63 $425 $1,842 $22,100 600
Top Paying Metropolitan Cities for Veterinary Assistants
The absolute best city to be a Veterinary Assistant is Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy in Massachusetts, which has a yearly salary of nearly $35k. The Veterinary Assistant salary in these MA cities are close to that of the 90th percentile above, making it a prime place to find work.
|Rank||Metropolitan Cities||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
|2||San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA||$16.15||$646||$2,800||$33,600||500|
|6||New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ||$14.38||$575||$2,492||$29,900||2,000|
|10||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA||$13.94||$558||$2,417||$29,000||2,000|
Highest Non-Metropolitan Areas for Veterinary Assistants
If you’re considering working in a non-metropolitan area, salaries are best in places like Southeastern Wyoming, Southwestern Wisconsin, Sussex County, Northwestern Washington and Western New Hampshire. The average salary of Veterinary Assistants in these areas are about $30k – $34k.
|Rank||Non-Metropolitan Areas||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
|3||Sussex County, Delaware||$15.63||$625||$2,708||$32,500||70|
|5||Western New Hampshire||$14.23||$569||$2,467||$29,600||50|
|7||Capital/Northern New York||$13.27||$531||$2,300||$27,600||N/A|
Highest Veterinary Assistant Employment Level by States
Those worried more about the number of potential opportunities should look at states with the highest number of employed Veterinary Assistants. California was #1 in this category with over 9k employed. Texas, a distant second, reported about 4k Veterinary Assistants working in its state.
|Rank||States||Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Salary||Annual Salary||Employment Level|
There are currently nearly 75,000 Veterinary Assistants employed nationwide. This is projected to grow 11% over the next ten years, which is on par with all other occupations.
|Employment Projections Data Veterinary Assistant, 2012-2022|
|Projected Employment, 2022||81,700|
|Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers||11%|
|Healthcare Support occupations||28%|
|Total, All Occupations||11%|
Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics
Veterinary Assistant Job Description
Veterinary Assistants are mainly responsible for managing the animal’s care while they are visiting with a Veterinarian, including documenting and maintaining records related to the animal’s treatment.
Additionally they ensure the animals and their cages are cleaned while on the premises, and makes sure they are fed and performs regular care as required.
After the Veterinarian examination, the Veterinary Assistant is responsible for administering treatments, conducting tests and collecting samples for the laboratory where required. If the animal is required to undergo surgery, then the assistant monitors the animal both during and after the surgery to ensure proper recovery.
In some cases, the VA has to have the emotional strength to handle the case of abused animals, as well as those that they might have to euthanize if they cannot be treated.
As a Veterinary Assistant, you can work in clinics, hospitals or laboratories which specialize in animal care and research.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant
To become a Veterinary Assistant, you need to ensure first of all that you are physically fit, as managing and in some cases, restraining a variety of animals are not simple tasks.
Additionally, it is important to be able to stay calm and focused. This is because in a typical environment, there are multiple animals, so it can be noisy and confusing, and based on the animal’s condition they could be in pain and fairly aggressive.
Generally, you do not need specialized training to start, but it is recommended that you pursue at least an associate or bachelor degree in animal science to demonstrate your qualifications, and increase your potential Veterinary Assistant salary. Most supplement this education with on the job training where established VAs and Veterinary Technicians supervise and assist new ones in all aspects of the job.
There is no standard certification required to be a Veterinary Assistant, but you may find some from a variety of state veterinary organizations as well as private certification organizations. You would need to check which one is more related to the type of facility that you are working with.
Generally, the Veterinary Assistant position is looked at as a stepping stone to more qualifications in the sector and most pursue further education to become either veterinary technicians or fully fledged veterinarians. Therefore, if you love animals and like to take care of them, becoming a VA is the first step in understanding whether you can handle the responsibility, and whether you want to graduate yourself to higher stages of animal care. On top of that, you can obtain a Veterinary Assistant salary that will help pay for further education and qualifications.