How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Virginia

You are an ideal candidate for a vet assistant career if you have loved cats, dogs, lizards, and frogs since you were a  child.

A veterinary assistant may be a deeply fulfilling job related to working with both people and domestic or exotic animals.

It is the fact that veterinary medicine grows daily and that the abundance of job offers in this field attracts a huge number of animal lovers passionate about animal welfare to try their luck as veterinary assistants, so we decided to gather all the necessary information which you may find helpful and put it in one place.

Veterinary Assistant Job Description and Duties in Virginia

Before determining which career filed is the right one for you, no matter which occupation is in question, you are supposed to get familiar with the duties that may expect you once you get hired and whether you are able to perform them.

Days at veterinary facilities cannot be predicted as this is a place where anything can happen.

Duties of the veterinary assistants highly depend on the facility and its reputation, as well as on his/her personal skills.

Those less educated may just be scheduling routine and emergency appointments and recording animal health care history.

Others, who possess a license, may be asked to take x-rays, give first aid to injured animals or calm frightened ones during an examination by the veterinarian.

Many of them work under the supervision of a veterinarian and they are asked to help monitor responses to anesthesia and provide requested surgical instruments during the intervention.

The variety of veterinary assistant responsibilities includes:

  • Exercising, bathing, watering and feeding hospitalized animals
  • Monitoring and providing supportive care to them
  • Preparing relevant equipment for the intervention
  • Cleaning and preparing animal cages so as to prevent infections
  • Restraining animals for treatment
  • Reception duties such as greeting and advising pet owners
  • Record keeping

Virginia Vet Assistant Education Requirements

Those individuals who are sure that vet assistant is their dream vocation should start their education towards it from the very beginning, while they are still in high schools.

There, they can choose subjects related to animal care and once they finish secondary education and get their diploma, they may immediately start looking for a job in this field.

The additional knowledge can be thought along the way after some years of experience.

However, there are always those more eager to advance their education, so they can enroll in courses offered by colleges and institutions which offer them certification in less than two years’ time.

A few veterinary assistant campus and online programs in Virginia:

  • Tidewater Community College
  • Massanutten Technical Center
  • Northern Virginia Community College

Some of the lectures taught by experienced and well-established veterinarians at those courses are math, science, and communication, animal anatomy, and pharmacology, designed to make students more effective for the positions that might require more education.

Completing a veterinary assistant program at an accredited college enables you to perform more demanding clinical roles.

NAVTA has prepared courses related to medical terminology, identifying different breeds, proper restraining techniques, administering medication, and much more which both experienced and inexperienced veterinary assistants can enroll and once they finish it, they can become an approved Virginia veterinary assistants.

NAVTA is the association whose main aim is to support young vet assistants by providing three options to get the certificate:

  • Externship Option: for unemployed vet assistants
  • Experiential Learner: for the working veterinary assistants in Virginia
  • Veterinary Assistant Program:  the option for veterinary assistants who already work a minimum of 20 work hours per week.

Your Virginia AVA which is required to be renewed every two years.

Potential Salary Expectations and Job Prospects in Virginia

The increasing number of pet owners and their higher concerns about their pet health caused the employment of veterinary assistants is growing much faster than the average for all occupations.

This means that young generations might find a job in this field without many difficulties in clinics and hospitals or small private facilities.

Those who possess a certificate should look for a job in more prominent and reputable clinics having in mind the fact that they look for assistants who know what they need to do and pay more.

Those trustworthy clinics offer great care of all kinds of pets but are not likely to hire an inexperienced vet assistant without a certification.

Salaries of veterinary assistants are modest in most facilities and throughout the whole country.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average wage of $24,430 per year.

Being that the average salary for a Virginian veterinary assistant ranges from $ 28420 in Lynchburg up to $ 34148 in Annandale, Alexandria, and Arlington per year, it can be said that Virginia belongs to those states that pay vet assistants better than some others.

The annual salary of a veterinary assistant significantly varies among the cities due to both social and personal factors and the table below shows the salary of a veterinary assistant in the state of Virginia annually.

LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Virginia Beach$29,498
Norfolk$29,053
Chesapeake$29,016
Richmond$30,924
Newport News$28,905
Hampton$28,905
Alexandria$34,148
Portsmouth$29,053
Roanoke$28,497
Lynchburg$28,420

Potential Veterinary Assistant Employers in Virginia

The team consisting of veterinarians, veterinary technologists, and veterinary assistants represent a group of people who are fond of animals and want to help them, so the better

Virginia Veterinary Medical Association

VCA (Veterinary Centers of America)

  • VCA Alexandria Animal Hospital
  • VCA Chancellor Animal Hospital
  • VCA Pets First Animal Hospital
  • VCA Valley Animal Hospital

Vetco Wellness Centers and Vaccination Clinics inside PETCO

  • Located in Hampton Petco
  • Located in Norfolk Petco
  • Located in Virginia Beach Petco
  • Located in Chester Petco

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Continuing Education for Veterinary Assistants

People focused on helping the animals in need may be perfect for this job simply because their desire to work with and help animals is enough to become a successful veterinary assistant.

However, it is highly suggested that some kind of animal-related education would be beneficial and this is realized only when you enter the facility and find yourself in a situation when you do not know what to do, and it is expected from you to know.

Attending any of the courses offered by the following organizations will definitely lead you to a successful career as a veterinary assistant.

USA How to Become a Veterinary Assistant by State