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?

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.

Hourly Wage$8.37$9.42$11.35$13.94$17.16
Weekly Wage$335$377$454$558$687
Monthly Salary$1,450$1,633$1,967$2,417$2,975
Annual Salary$17,400$19,600$23,600$29,000$35,700

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.

RankIndustriesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions$30.96$1,238$5,367$64,400180
2Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals$19.18$767$3,325$39,900500
3Local government, including schools and hospitals$18.99$760$3,292$39,500500
4Federal, State, and Local Government, excluding state and local schools and hospitals, and the US Postal Service$17.74$710$3,075$36,900600
5Chemical Manufacturing$17.16$687$2,975$35,700200
6Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing$17.16$687$2,975$35,700200
7General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (including private, state, and local government hospitals)$17.07$683$2,958$35,500400
8General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, Privately owned$17.07$683$2,958$35,500400
9Educational Services, Privately owned$16.92$677$2,933$35,200 2,000
10Colleges, 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.

RankSalaries by StatesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1District of Columbia$17.31$692$3,000$36,000200
2Massachusetts$15.24$610$2,642$31,700 2,000
3Connecticut$14.23$569$2,467$29,600 1,000
5California$13.94$558$2,417$29,000 9,000
8New York$13.27$531$2,300$27,600 4,000
10New Jersey$12.79$512$2,217$26,600 1,000

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.

RankSalaries by StatesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1Kentucky$9.62$385$1,667$20,000 1,000
3South Dakota$9.95$398$1,725$20,700200
4Louisiana$10.10$404$1,750$21,000 1,000
6Missouri$10.29$412$1,783$21,400 2,000
8North Dakota$10.34$413$1,792$21,500100
9Florida$10.58$423$1,833$22,000 4,000
10West Virginia$10.63$425$1,842$22,100600

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.

RankMetropolitan CitiesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA$16.68$667$2,892$34,700 1,000
2San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA$16.15$646$2,800$33,600500
3Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD$15.43$617$2,675$32,100500
4Framingham, MA$15.10$604$2,617$31,40050
5Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ$14.81$592$2,567$30,800100
6New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ$14.38$575$2,492$29,900 2,000
7Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$14.18$567$2,458$29,500 1,000
8Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, MA$14.13$565$2,450$29,40040
9Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI$14.09$563$2,442$29,300100
10Los 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.

RankNon-Metropolitan AreasHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1Southeastern Wyoming$16.35$654$2,833$34,00040
2Southwestern Wisconsin$15.72$629$2,725$32,700N/A
3Sussex County, Delaware$15.63$625$2,708$32,50070
4Northwestern Washington$14.52$581$2,517$30,20090
5Western New Hampshire$14.23$569$2,467$29,60050
6Northwestern Texas$14.23$569$2,467$29,600100
7Capital/Northern New York$13.27$531$2,300$27,600N/A
8Southeastern Oklahoma$13.22$529$2,292$27,500200
9Northwestern Connecticut$13.17$527$2,283$27,40050
10East Arkansas$13.03$521$2,258$27,10050

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.

RankStatesHourly WageWeekly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual SalaryEmployment Level
1California$13.94$558$2,417$29,000 9,000
2Texas$11.20$448$1,942$23,300 4,000
3New York$13.27$531$2,300$27,600 4,000
4Florida$10.58$423$1,833$22,000 4,000
5North Carolina$11.25$450$1,950$23,400 3,000
6Ohio$11.35$454$1,967$23,600 3,000
7Virginia$12.60$504$2,183$26,200 3,000
8Tennessee$11.78$471$2,042$24,500 2,000
9Oklahoma$12.16$487$2,108$25,300 2,000
10Maryland$12.69$508$2,200$26,400 2,000

Job Outlook

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 
Employment, 2012 74,600
Projected Employment, 2022 81,700
Employment Difference: 7,100
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers11%
Healthcare Support occupations28%
Total, All Occupations11%

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Veterinary Assistant Job Description

salaries of veterinary assistantsVeterinary 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

veterinary assistant salary dataTo 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.