Veterinary Assistant Salary

vet assistantThe work of a veterinary assistant plays an important role in the successful operation of a veterinarian’s office or animal hospital.  A person who is investigating various types of veterinary work may think that the occupations of veterinary assistant and veterinary technician are one in the same.  Actually, they are two different careers within the same field.  A veterinary assistant helps a veterinarian during patient examinations and has various other responsibilities in a vet’s office.  Alternatively, a veterinary technician gives medical tests to animals and is qualified to administer various types of medical care.


National Average Veterinary Assistant Salary



Salary Range

Hourly Wage                          Annual Wage

                        Upper:             $17.15                                     $35,680

                        Median:           $11.32                                     $23,550

                        Lower:             $8.36                                       $17,380


States With Highest Salary

State                                    Avg. Hourly Wage                 Avg. Annual Wage

  • District of Columbia                   $17.32                                   $36,020
  • Massachusetts                              $15.25                                    $31,730
  • Connecticut                                   $14.21                                    $29,550
  • Delaware                                         $14.11                                    $29,360
  • California                                       $13.96                                    $29,040

*All statistical data is from the U.S. Department of Labor and is updated quarterly

Job Description:

Some of the specific tasks of a vet assistant include checking the vital signs of patients, weighing them, and asking an owner questions about the animal.  Also, an assistant often calms a dog or cat during the veterinarian’s examination.  Vet assistants may exercise the dogs and cats that are staying overnight at the clinic.  Cleaning cages, wiping down exam tables, and feeding animals are other tasks of vet assistants. Veterinary assistants work in several types of environments.  Some assistants work in animal hospitals or clinics.  Others work in the private practices of veterinarians.  In addition, some veterinary assistants work in mobile units that travel around giving medical care to dogs and cats where they live.  A veterinary assistant can work in a large practice with several veterinarians or in a small practice with just one vet.  Furthermore, the work hours of a vet assistant are dependent upon where he or she works.  Some animal hospitals are open 24 hours a day which means that a vet assistant may work overnight or during the day.  Alternatively, a person working in a veterinarian’s private office often works regular office hours.


Education And Training Requirements:

The educational preparation for veterinary assistant jobs includes a high school diploma.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics most vet assistants learn while on the job.  Of course, people who have experience working with animals are favorable candidates for veterinary assistant jobs.  For instance, a person who worked as a dog groomer would have a good chance of being hired as a vet assistant.  Candidates with experience around all sorts of animals will have the confidence to successfully do the job. There are veterinary assistant schools for people who want to feel a little more prepared for the responsibilities of the occupation.  These schools offer classes on the specific tasks of assistants as well as information on how a veterinarian’s office operates.  Plus, students often work in veterinarians’ offices to garner some practical experience along with their education.

veterinary assistantWho Should Become A Veterinary Assistant?:

There are several qualities that enable a person to have success as a veterinary assistant.  First, a person who is calm around animals is a positive addition to any vet’s office.  When a pet comes in to see the veterinarian, it is usually frightened or agitated.  An effective veterinary assistant knows how to talk to a pet and make it feel as comfortable as possible during its time in the office. vet assistantNext, a successful veterinary assistant is patient.  For instance, a dog or cat that is staying the night at the vet may not want to go into a strange cage.  An assistant must know how to calm the pet and take the time to make it feel at ease before it goes into the cage. A person who believes in doing a job in a thorough way is a good candidate for this occupation.  For example, when cleaning an examination table, an efficient vet assistant makes sure that the table is free of bacteria so that no germs are passed along to the next animal.  Cleanliness is a significant concern in a reputable veterinarian’s office.  Of course, a basic love of animals is also a great quality in a veterinary assistant.

Factors That Can Influence Salary:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual veterinary assistant salary is $23,550 The lowest 10 percent of reported incomes was averaged at $17,380 while the top 10 percent of earners took home an estimated $35,680. The state with the highest average salary is The District of Columbia with an annual mean salary of $36,020. The level of a veterinary assistant salary depends upon a few factors.  For one, if a person has experience working with animals then he or she may start out at a higher salary than a person who has very little experience.  Also, people who attend veterinary assistant schools will likely garner a higher than average salary because they have prepared for the responsibilities of the job. Another factor that affects a veterinary assistant salary is the type of veterinary office a person works for.  Larger, busier veterinary practices are more likely to pay a higher veterinary assistant salary than an office with just a few employees.  Like any other profession, location plays an important part in determining salary.  An office in a large city will pay a higher wage then an office in a small rural town.

Career Path:

Finally, people looking at veterinary assistant jobs may aspire to work their way up in the field of veterinary medicine.  For example, a person may work as a veterinary assistant while studying to be a veterinary technician or even a veterinarian.  Many of skills learned on this job are also transferable to careers outside of animal care.  Working as a dental assistant would make use of many of the skills that a person learned while working as a vet assistant. The daily experiences the person has as a vet assistant can benefit him or her in the future.  In short, he or she will get the opportunity to learn about the workings of a veterinarian’s office from all angles.  Furthermore, someone who begins work as a veterinary assistant may be inspired to become a veterinarian in order to be of more service to animals.

Job Market For Vet Assistant’s:

The field of vet assistant is expected to increase by 10% between 2012-2022, which is on pace with the expected average growth for all other careers.  This means that there will be healthy growth in this sector and should continue to provide new jobs over the next ten years.

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