How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Iowa

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How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Iowa

If you are compassionate, responsible for performing administrative tasks, patient and meticulous, and above all these have a genuine love for animals then you have fulfilled the first and foremost requirement for the position of a veterinary assistant.

Veterinary medicine is the growing field which offers an abundance of the job for people interested in working on the team who is passionate about animal welfare and focused on helping the animals in need.

A veterinary assistant is an important team member who has to cooperate not only with the veterinarian but also with other veterinary staff like veterinary technicians, kennel staff and other assistants.

Job Description

A job of a veterinary assistant is performed primarily because they have a desire to work with and help animals.

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The ideal candidate for this kind of profession needs to be willing to learn new skills and develop his/her abilities as an assistant.

Some assistants provide customer-service skills as they will work with animal owners and collaborate with other facilities.

Some of them need to maintain clean and sanitary conditions in the exam and operating rooms or provide assistance to veterinarians.

All this depends on the education and talents of each assistant.

That is why more and more employers look to hire people who have certifications from veterinary schools since they need people who are ready to perform medical duties associated with animal care once they start working.

Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Iowa

The above-mentioned fact that qualifications are important when getting the job makes more people deciding to take any of the programs or courses organized to give their candidates a chance of getting a license or certification and improve their prospects of getting a better-paid job.

Even though you do not necessarily need to have these qualifications, this kind of education ameliorates your self-confidence, thus making you a better candidate for the job.

There are campuses throughout Iowa which offer veterinary assistant programs to their students, such as:

  • Western Iowa Tech
  • Hawkeye Community College
  • Kirkwood Community College

These training programs offer to license or certification which is required to perform the role of a veterinary assistant, and even do some examinations and minor surgery on animals, without the supervision of a veterinarian, thus making him/her a valuable member of an animal healthcare team.


Veterinary assistants must have excellent communication skills, an understanding of animal behavior, they need to be detail-oriented and well-organized, to be able to accomplish all their daily tasks.

Some of their less demanding duties are answering phone calls and booking appointments, but they might also be involved in more challenging issues such as:

  • Take and develop x-rays.
  • Collect urine and fecal samples when instructed.
  • Perform laboratory tests
  • Retrieve pets being discharged from their cages.
  • Administer injections and medication
  • Manage pet emergency care services.

All these require a higher level of knowledge than can be gained by simply observing the work of a veterinarian.

That is why the assistants with qualifications are more self-confident and prepared for all kinds of difficulties.


Iowa does not have any education requirements since people with a high school diploma or GED equivalency can easily become veterinary assistants and learn the job during their work.

However, they should not expect to be paid equally with some other assistants who got educational training to become veterinary assistants at community colleges, technical schools or online courses.

Most of the people nowadays take care of pets and they become members of their families, meaning that the welfare of their pets is of crucial importance, and that makes the veterinary assistant job even more demanding and requires a higher level of knowledge in dealing with animals.

NAVTA offers veterinary assistants an opportunity to become educated people who have learned everything about animal care, like medical conditions, diets, surgeries, parasites, vaccines and more.

Some of the NAVTA programs offered online are:

While on the other hand, you can choose among many high school campus and adult campus programs throughout the country, including:

To become an approved veterinary assistant in Iowa, you can choose from one of the three following options.

  • Externship Option
  • Experiential Learner
  • Veterinary Assistant Program

Then, you will need to pass the AVA exam and renew your Iowa AVA by attaining10 continuing education credits within the following 2 years.

Through these options, even the employed veterinary assistants get a chance to achieve education and certificate within six months to a year.

Getting a Job

When veterinary assistants are in question, there is a variety of job offers and finding a job is not such a big problem.

Having in mind the fact that the growth of animal health centers leads to the increasing volume of work then they do not have to worry about it.

This is the list of potential veterinary assistant employers in Iowa:

  • Banfield Pet Hospital
    • Clive
  • Iowa Pet Hospitals
  • Afford-A-Care Pet Hospital
  • Ames Pet Hospital
  • Bright Eyes & Bushy Tails Veterinary Hospital


The Bureau of Labor Statistics is trying to find out how the annual salary of a veterinary assistant varies among the cities around the USA and especially among the cities within one particular state.

When it comes to Iowa, it is estimated that an average veterinary assistant annual salary ranges from $ 24 667 in Sioux City up to $ 28 492 in West Des Moine.

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

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Ames,IA $28,225
Ankeny,IA $28,492
Cedar Falls,IA $25,853
Cedar Rapids,IA $28,077
Council Bluffs,IA $28,031
Davenport,IA $28,002
Des Moines,IA $28,492
Dubuque,IA $27,773
Iowa City,IA $27,846
Sioux City,IA $24,667
Urbandale,IA $28,492
Waterloo,IA $26,802
West Des Moines,IA $28,492

Regional Salary in Iowa

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Ames, IA110$46,540$22.38$63,990$29,720
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL80$31,610$15.2$42,230$27,620
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA160$33,190$15.96$43,260$25,400
Iowa City, IA30$33,470$16.09$46,940$24,070
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA40$31,600$15.19$37,150$28,580
* 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.


So, if you love cats and dogs, and have dreamt about becoming a veterinarian, but you did not have a chance to achieve this goal, a veterinarian technician may be a rewarding job for you.

You will get the same level of satisfaction since the whole team is working on the same aim and that is to help the animal in need.

USA Veterinary Assisting by State

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