How To Become a Veterinary Assistant in California

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How To Become a Veterinary Assistant in California

Regarding the fact that veterinary medicine develops more and more and offers jobs for everyone ready to work with animals, there is a greater number of young people interested in becoming veterinarians and their assistants.

Those who are concerned about animal well-being and focused on helping the animals in need are the staff working in animal clinics, hospitals or shelters.

Unlike the past, when only some of the animals were worshiped and protected, nowadays, each species has its significance and more people take care of pets.

That leads to the increasing demand for veterinary assistants, and what is even better, they do not have to have any kind of education related to animals to begin working.

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Their wish to help the animals, together with the educated and qualified team of the clinic is enough since they all want the same positive outcome.

Job Description

Even though veterinary schools and universities are not required for becoming a veterinary assistant, people working with animals have to learn about animal care, they have to possess great communication skills, to be good listeners and to sympathize with the stressed pet owners.

Also, if they are educated, that is their advantage. Some veterinarians look for licensed assistants since they might perform more complicated duties like helping during the surgery, providing animals with medicine and taking blood samples, among many others.

That is why qualifications might be a significant advantage when getting the job and can make it easier for an assistant to perform his/her duties since he/she will know what should be done.

Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in California

If you possess a high school diploma or GED equivalency, you can easily become a veterinary assistant in California.

The years of practice can make you even better assistant than those educated.

However, if you want to continue your education and get acquainted with the tasks and duties of a veterinary assistant, there are certificate programs widely available through post-secondary schools or online courses which might provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills.

Those candidates who possess a certificate about the education achieved about veterinary studies get better chances to find employment and are better in finding a solution to the problems once they are hired.

California offers veterinary assistant programs such as:

  • Yuba College
  • Modesto Junior College
  • Pima Medical Institute-Chula Vista
  • Animal Behavior College

Students can pass all the exams there and become licensed veterinary assistants.


Even though, in most countries in the USA, a veterinary assistant is a person with no formal education related to animals, but more and more training programs which offer license or certification appear and the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) organizes 35 approved programs and various online programs for people eager to achieve knowledge and qualifications.

Some of the NAVTA programs are:

A veterinary assistant is a valuable member of an animal health care team.

Thus, the California Veterinary Medical Association offers a Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA) program.

This program gives future veterinary assistants training and they get a state certification once the required training is completed.

The CVMA program is available in technical colleges, veterinary hospitals, high schools and even as an apprenticeship with on-the-job-training.

There are two kinds of programs offered:

  • Hospital Program– where students have a mentor and take online courses. They need to have 600 hours of training at an approved California veterinary practice.
  • School Program – in schools and colleges. Students need to get passing grades and have 500 hours of practice and 250 hours of laboratory time.

Getting a Job

As you have become a licensed veterinary assistant, your chances of getting a satisfying job are better as veterinarians are always having in mind the fact that assistants who know what they need to do and can start working without previously being thought or supervised.

California offers the greatest number of places where veterinary assistants can look for a job:

  • California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) with a long list of job openings for veterinary assistants in California.
  • VCA (Veterinary Centers of America) with 120 locations throughout the state of California such as:
    • VCA Venice Boulevard Animal Hospital
    • VCA Mission Viejo Animal Hospital
    • VCA Angel Animal Hospital
  • Vetco Wellness Centers and Vaccination Clinics inside PETCO – also known for its relationships with veterinary teaching institutions:
    • Located in Fresno Petco
    • Located in Hollywood Petco
    • Located in Modesto Petco
    • Located in Sacramento Petco
  • Banfield Pet Hospital – which has a long tradition of helping animals in need, since 1955 on more than 900 locations throughout the USA.
    • Banfield Headquarters Clovis
    • Banfield Headquarters Fresno


California, Washington and the New England states which all have a high average veterinary assistant salary, but there is a significant variation in the field among the cities in California.

It is estimated to range from $29,500 in Visalia, up to 36,764 in San Francisco per year.

The development of the region where the city is located, the annual incomes of its citizens and the amount of work that the assistant is performing all affect the average annual salary.

The table below shows the salary of a veterinary assistant in the state of California annually since it significantly varies from one city to another.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Anaheim,CA $32,939
Antioch,CA $33,769
Apple Valley,CA $31,338
Bakersfield,CA $31,753
Berkeley,CA $34,955
Burbank,CA $33,295
Carlsbad,CA $31,516
Carson,CA $32,909
Chico,CA $30,271
Chula Vista,CA $31,694
Coachella,CA $31,397
Concord,CA $33,295
Corona,CA $31,605
Costa Mesa,CA $32,969
Daly City,CA $36,764
Downey,CA $33,028
El Cajon,CA $31,605
El Monte,CA $33,265
Elk Grove,CA $32,168
Escondido,CA $31,516
Fairfield,CA $33,265
Fontana,CA $31,664
Fremont,CA $35,430
Fresno,CA $29,678
Fullerton,CA $32,939
Garden Grove,CA $32,939
Glendale,CA $33,295
Hayward,CA $34,896
Huntington Beach,CA $32,969
Inglewood,CA $33,295
Irvine,CA $32,969
Lancaster,CA $33,117
Lompoc,CA $30,834
Long Beach,CA $32,909
Los Angeles,CA $33,293
Modesto,CA $31,427
Monterey,CA $32,909
Moreno Valley,CA $31,635
Murrieta,CA $32,228
Newhall,CA $32,909
Norwalk,CA $32,909
Oakland,CA $34,955
Oceanside,CA $31,783
Ontario,CA $31,605
Orange,CA $32,969
Oxnard,CA $31,783
Palmdale,CA $33,087
Pasadena,CA $33,295
Petaluma,CA $33,354
Pomona,CA $32,880
Rancho Cucamonga,CA $31,486
Rialto,CA $31,457
Richmond,CA $35,014
Riverside,CA $31,664
Roseville,CA $32,109
Sacramento,CA $32,198
Salinas,CA $32,850
San Bernardino,CA $31,457
San Diego,CA $31,694
San Francisco,CA $36,764
San Jose,CA $35,489
Santa Ana,CA $32,939
Santa Barbara,CA $31,724
Santa Clara,CA $35,489
Santa Clarita,CA $32,850
Santa Cruz,CA $33,117
Santa Maria,CA $31,131
Santa Rosa,CA $32,316
Simi Valley,CA $32,405
Stockton,CA $31,783
Sunnyvale,CA $35,489
Temecula,CA $31,812
Thousand Oaks,CA $32,168
Torrance,CA $32,909
Vallejo,CA $33,354
Ventura,CA $31,783
Victorville,CA $31,368
Visalia,CA $29,500
West Covina,CA $32,880

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Fresno, CA200$35,680$17.16$44,010$30,170
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA4,550$40,190$19.32$47,060$35,310
Modesto, CA230$37,390$17.98$44,890$31,240
Napa, CA40$39,270$18.88$46,880$34,100
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA400$39,260$18.88$46,140$31,530
Redding, CA100$36,110$17.36$43,300$30,480
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA1,180$36,910$17.74$44,930$30,790
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA1,130$39,010$18.76$46,230$31,490
Salinas, CA150$38,900$18.7$46,360$35,810
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA1,590$39,450$18.97$46,350$31,280
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA1,800$44,740$21.51$57,880$36,810
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA600$46,370$22.29$62,810$36,900
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA190$37,480$18.02$45,370$30,640
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA170$41,510$19.96$46,530$36,490
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA220$37,930$18.24$45,250$31,410
Santa Rosa, CA320$40,980$19.7$46,720$31,610
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA170$39,870$19.17$47,950$32,570
Visalia-Porterville, CA110$34,870$16.76$36,590$30,300
Yuba City, CA60$36,600$17.59$45,000$32,970
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers, OCC Code 31-9096, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.


A veterinary assistant is required to perform the role which requires a higher qualification level, since some the certified veterinary assistants can do examinations and minor surgery on animals, without the supervision of a veterinarian.

They take blood samples, give injections, prepare equipment before and after surgery, give medication and all these duties demand the right training and knowledge.

Many people think that empathy and communication skills are enough qualifications for a veterinary assistant since they only work on scheduling appointments and talking to pet owners worried about the health condition of their pets.

But that is a wrong opinion.

In a well-equipped veterinary clinic or hospital, veterinary assistants often have to work with technical machinery and lab equipment, with blood work and urinalysis, which is not at all naive.

USA Veterinary Assisting by State

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