Vet Assistant in CA

vet assistant helping dog

How to Become an Vet Assistant in California

Love animals, love your job! When you become a vet assistants you will help vets heal sick pets and build a rewarding career a long the way.  Vet assistants have many career growth options and will always be in demand.

Education & Training

Search Veterinary Assistant Programs

Get information on Veterinary Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

    Carrington College
    9 month certificate program that teaches the essential skills for entry-level roles in veterinary health. Through a blend of classroom instruction and hands-on externship experience, students gain proficiency in clinical, lab, and administrative tasks. The curriculum covers animal anatomy, nursing skills, surgical assistance, pharmaceutical knowledge, and front office operations.

    • Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton

    Central Coast College
    The 38-week Veterinary Assistant program equips students with the expertise needed to assist veterinarians and technicians effectively. Through hands-on training, including first aid and CPR, and an externship, students gain real-world experience. Those seeking further education can pursue an additional year for an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

    • Salinas

    Charter College
    12 month Certificate in Veterinary Assistant program with 180 hour externship program designed to prepare you for an entry level job. Fear Free Certification.

    • Canyon Country, Lancaster, Oxnard

    Pima Medical Institute
    9 month Veterinary Assistant Certificate program in hybrid format (online and classroom). Study clinical and admin skills, animal nursing, surgical procedures, lab testing, diagnostic imaging etc.

    • San Diego, San Marcos

What are the Benefits of a Training Program?

In a formal training program, you will learn essential topics such as animal anatomy, medical terminology, and basic veterinary procedures.

A good program will include some form of on-the-job training or externship opportunities provided by veterinary clinics or hospitals.

These programs will prepare you to sit for the the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) exam, which will enhance your job prospects.

How Long Does it Take?

Formal training programs at community colleges or vocational schools typically last around 6 to 12 months and result in a certificate or diploma.

Online programs may offer more flexible scheduling options.  The timeline can also be influenced by the individual’s prior experience and dedication to completing the necessary coursework.

Some individuals choose on-the-job training, which can vary in duration depending on the employer’s training program.  However you will need get certified at some point.

How Much Does it Cost?

Online programs that include hands-on training (such as the ones above) cost about $2,500, on average.

Formal training programs at community colleges or vocational schools may cost, on average, anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, considering tuition, fees, and materials.

helping dog in clinic


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average national annual salary for a veterinary assistant is $34,740 per year, or $16.70 per hour. In California, average salaries for vet assistants are %50,197 per year, or $21.50 per hour. Projected salaries for vet assistants in the largest 5 cities in California are as follows:

  • Los Angeles: $22.45/hour or 52,431/year
  • San Diego: $19.93/hour or $46,529/year
  • San Jose: $23.16/hour or $54,085/year
  • San Francisco: $27.03/hour or $63,115/year
  • Fresno: $17.68/hour or $41,292/year

Are Certifications Required in California?

California itself lacks any certification requirements for vet assistants.  But individual employers in the state may have more specific and rigorous certification requirements in lieu of the lax statewide policy.

American Veterinary Medical AssociationDepending on where you are employed, workers may be required to obtain a national certification, such as the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation.

Basic job requirements may also include the completion of an educational program (this can be a community college program, a vocational school program, or a relevant and accredited online course), as well as clinical experience as an apprentice or intern.

Career Overview

What Does an Vet Assistant Do?

Veterinary assistants are essential in supporting veterinarians and ensuring the overall well-being of animals in a variety of veterinary settings.  Their role is crucial in maintaining a smooth workflow within veterinary clinics and contributing to the compassionate and effective care of animals.

Job Duties

Specific responsibilities include the following:

  • assisting with routine medical procedures, such as vaccinations and examinations
  • restraining animals during treatments
  • maintaining and sterilizing equipment
  • preparing exam rooms,
  • providing basic care like feeding and grooming
  • handle administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, managing records, and communicating with pet owners.

Where Can They Work?

In California, veterinary assistants are employed in veterinary offices or hospitals, research facilities, animal shelters, wildlife refuges, and zoos.

Career Advancement

As they accrue more experience, some vet assistants might decide to grab additional certifications to boost their professional reputation. Climbing the career ladder in this field might mean taking on more specified roles, such as specializing in veterinary surgery, dentistry, or lab work.

For some, this experience becomes a launchpad for pursuing their education further, potentially even expanding their careers and becoming licensed vet techs or going after a higher-level veterinary degree.

Additionally, advanced licenses or certifications in California can be obtained through the California Veterinary Medical Board.

California-Veterinary-Medical-Board logo

Career Outlook

Positions for vet assistants are expected to grow at a rate of 20% over the next decade (2022-2032), which is significantly faster than the average for other careers (3%). Around 26,800 positions are expected to open each year over this time period.


From the scenic coastal regions to the bustling urban centers, vet assistants in the state often find themselves working in diverse environments, ranging from specialty veterinary clinics to animal rescue organizations. With California’s strong emphasis on animal welfare and a culturally rich community of pet owners, vet assistants may have unique opportunities to engage with a wide variety of animals and contribute to the well-being of pets.


  1. The journey to becoming a vet assistant usually begins with acquiring a high school diploma or something similar.
  2. A lot of folks aiming to be vet assistants then go for either formal training programs or learn the ropes on the job to pick up the necessary skills.
  3. Once they have familiarized themselves with the field, vet assistants often start their career at places like vet clinics, animal hospitals, or shelters.
  4. There, they assist vets with all sorts of tasks, from taking care of animals to handling administrative duties and basic medical procedures.
Search Veterinary Assistant Programs

Get information on Veterinary Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Search