How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Virginia

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How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Virginia

For people who have loved cats, dogs, lizards and frogs since they were children, becoming a veterinary assistant may be a deeply fulfilling job.

A veterinary assistant career is related to working with people and domestic or exotic animals.

Regarding the fact that veterinary medicine grows daily, the abundance of job offers in this field attracts the huge number of animal lovers passionate about animal welfare to try their luck as veterinary assistants.

Job Description

Days at the veterinary facility cannot be predicted since they work in a place where anything can happen.

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Duties of the veterinary assistants highly depend on the facility and its reputation.

They are also dependable on the personal skills of a veterinary assistant.

Some of them might be scheduling routine and emergency appointments and recording animal health care history.

Others might 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.

Becoming a Veterinary Assistant in Virginia

Students who have finished secondary education and got their diploma may immediately start looking for a job in this field.

All the basic knowledge can be thought along the way after some years of experience.

For those more eager to advance their education, there are veterinary assistant courses in colleges and institutions which offer them certification in less than two years.

Some of the lectures at those courses are math, science, and communication, animal anatomy and pharmacology, designed to make them 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.

Some veterinary assistant campus in Virginia are:

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


Veterinarians rely on a team of assistants and technicians to support their work and that is why preparing to become a veterinary assistant should start with training in a veterinary assistant program. NAVTA has prepared courses thought by experienced instructors through which students learn all that is involved with being a veterinary assistant and to use it throughout a workday.

The curriculum includes lectures on medical terminology, identifying different breeds, proper restraining techniques, administering medication and much more.

High school does not provide you with this kind of knowledge and you might find yourself in a situation when you do not know what to do and the animal life is in your hands, so it is advisable to become a student who will be trained in animal care techniques and who will achieve the required knowledge before being involved in that critical situation.

Both experienced and inexperienced veterinary assistants decide to select from various options to become an approved Virginia veterinary assistant.

The available options are:

  • Externship Option where unemployed people get educated
  • Experiential Learner for working veterinary assistants with a full-service veterinary practice.
  • Veterinary Assistant Program for employed veterinary assistants that are working at least 20 hours per week.

Once you complete the chosen program you get your Virginia AVA which is required to be renewed every two years.

Getting a Job

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

This might result in good job opportunities in the future and young generations might find the job in this field without many difficulties.

Veterinary assistants may look for jobs in clinics and hospitals or small private facilities.

For those who possess a certificate, the size of the facility is not determining, having in mind the fact that reputable clinics are looking for assistants who know what they need to do. T

Potential veterinary assistant employers in Virginia are:

Those are trustworthy clinics that offer great care of all kinds of pets.


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, but at the same time, it projected 14 % job growth for veterinary assistants.

The average salary for a Virginian veterinary assistant ranges from $ 27 186 in Lynchburg up to $ 32 978 in Annandale, Alexandria, and Arlington per year.

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.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Alexandria,VA $32,978
Annandale,VA $32,978
Arlington,VA $32,978
Centreville,VA $32,859
Chesapeake,VA $27,881
Hampton,VA $27,774
Lynchburg,VA $27,186
Newport News,VA $27,774
Norfolk,VA $27,917
Petersburg,VA $29,470
Portsmouth,VA $27,917
Reston,VA $32,918
Richmond,VA $29,723
Roanoke,VA $27,364
Suffolk,VA $27,796
Virginia Beach,VA $28,358

Regional Salary in Virginia

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA90$30,580$14.7$36,360$22,880
Charlottesville, VA220$35,240$16.94$46,180$28,090
Harrisonburg, VA60$31,200$15$38,140$23,540
Richmond, VA630$31,860$15.32$38,570$24,210
Roanoke, VA210$28,290$13.6$34,070$22,880
Staunton-Waynesboro, VA90$29,480$14.17$36,810$23,220
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC720$30,550$14.69$37,270$23,440
Winchester, VA-WV30$31,880$15.33$44,480$22,980
* 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.


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 to prevent infections
  • Restraining animals for treatment
  • Reception duties such as greeting and advising pet owners
  • Record keeping

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, but at the same time they need to think about all the previously mentioned responsibilities that this job carries and decide whether they are able to handle all these tasks.

Still, the commitment to every kind of job leads to success, so by giving the best you can and never giving up will lead you to a successful career as a veterinary assistant.


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.

They all have the same goal and animal welfare is their mutual aim, so all their efforts to help our beloved animals should be respected and valued.

USA Veterinary Assisting by State

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