dcsimg

The primary duties of a veterinary assistant entail looking after animals in clinics as well as assisting with certain procedures. They are generally under the direct supervision of scientists, veterinarians, or veterinary technicians or technologists.

Their tasks may include general grooming and caring for animals by feeding, bathing, and exercising them. They may also clean and disinfect exam and operating rooms as well as hold animals still so the veterinarian can perform certain tests or examinations. California typically has a strong pet culture, and has a number of large metro areas where vet workers may find opportunities.

California Veterinary Assistant Schools

There may be a number of paths to becoming a vet assistant, but at minimum it's typically required to have at least a high school diploma, as well as some formal training. Many vet assistants choose to go through a program at a vet assistant school or community college. Here are a few examples of schools in California:

  • Allan Hancock College: Ranked one of the top 120 community in the nation and one of the five best in California, the Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria is known for its English as a second language (ESL) program, its professional theatre program and for its student support services.

  • Carrington College (Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Pomona, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leando, Stockton): With campuses in eight western states, Carrington offers a breadth of opportunities for health care career-minded students and focuses on a "hands on" approach.

  • Foothill College: Particularly focusing on underserved and underrepresented populations, Foothill College offers a wealth of programs for students and was in fact the first community college in California to offer online courses.

  • Los Angeles Pierce College: A two-year comprehensive public institution with more than 60 disciplines, Los Angeles Pierce College has one of the highest transfer performances in all of Southern California.

  • Modesto Junior College: Founded in 1921, Modesto Junior College is one of the oldest community colleges in the state and has over 80 associate degree programs.

  • Platt College (Los Angeles, Ontario, and Riverside): At three different campuses across California, Platt College specializes in Medical Sciences, Legal Studies, and Graphic Design.

  • Santa Rosa Junior College: Nearly 100 years old, Santa Rosa Junior College sis known for academic excellence and boasts over 40 clubs, conference-winning athletic teams and nationally ranked speech and debate teams.

  • Westech College: Westech College focuses on providing an educational link between a constantly evolving workplace and a brand new workforce.

What to Expect from California Veterinary Assistant Programs

Typical veterinary assistant programs involve a combination of general skillset building, technical knowledge coursework, and some require a set amount of in-field education. While coursework varies from program to program, a few general skillsets touched upon may include:

  • Active Listening
  • Monitoring
  • Active Learning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension

These skills may play a crucial role in your success as a veterinary assistant.

As far as technical knowledge coursework goes, you may cover such topics as learning to clean medical equipment, performing clerical work in medical settings, collecting biological specimens, disposing of biomedical waste in accordance with standards, preparing medical instruments and equipment for use, recording vital statistics, preparing medical reports or documents, etc.

California Veterinary Assistant License

Certification for a veterinary assistant is not mandatory in the state of California. Employers however may be more likely to hire candidates possessing any additional certification as it can show an advanced understanding of the various job responsibilities involved in this career.

On the national level, if you are a veterinary assistant seeking certification the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America offers the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation for the role. Program guidelines include graduating from a NAVTA-approved course as well as passing a proctored exam written by NAVTA's AVA committee.

In California specifically, the California Veterinary Medical Association offers the Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA) program. The program requires viewing over 100 videos and documents, as well as mentoring from a veterinarian or registered veterinary technician and finally completing an exam.

Expert Q&A

In order to learn more about careers in veterinary assisting in California, we reached out to Elizabeth White, Program Director of the Registered Veterinary Technology program at Pierce College in California.

What are some of the unique issues that vet assistants, technologists and technicians face in the state of California?

One issue that has recently arisen is that the CA Veterinary Medical Board switched from a comprehensive state board exam to utilizing the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). This in itself is not a problem, except that California also requires a candidate to take a 50 question exam specific to veterinary related laws in CA. The problem is that candidates have to pay $300 to take the VTNE and another $300 to take the CA state board exam. The state reduced the size and scope of their exam, but not the fee. It still costs candidates $300 to take the state board exam and then an additional $300 to take the VTNE. So now a candidate that desires to get licensed as an RVT in California is paying twice as much as before. New graduates (who have typically incurred student debt) will often have to delay taking their exams which prevents them from getting licensed in a timely manner.

What is the greatest benefit of practicing this field within the state of California?

California has always been on the cutting edge of technology and forward thinking. As RVTs, we benefit from being able to participate in advanced medical procedures, but are also able to utilize state of the art equipment and work with brilliant, compassionate colleagues. We also have a wide range of animals in our state, from companion animals to livestock and horses, lab animals, wildlife, exotics and non-traditional pets. Whatever type of animal you love, and whichever branch of medicine intrigues you, an RVT can find a satisfying career in California. Lastly, humane treatment of animals is mandated by law and supported by the public. Our ethical obligation to alleviate suffering by providing excellent care and services to animals can be fully met in California.

How will the job of a veterinarian technologist or technician change in the next 10 to 20 years?

I think the next major change for Veterinary Technology will be the genesis of a Veterinary Professional Associate (VPA). This position parallels the Physician Assistant in human medicine. VPAs would be able to implement wellness programs and diagnose and treat minor problems such as skin and ear infections, GI disturbances, etc. More serious conditions would be triaged and referred to a DVM. VPAs would also educate clients about animal care, nutrition, neutering, parasites, etc. Colorado State University vet school has recently proposed a Master's degree program for the VPA. The public has embraced this mid-tier position in human medicine, so it is likely that something similar in veterinary medicine will be readily accepted.

How is your school preparing students for a future in this career?

RVTs must possess basic skills and knowledge upon graduation. They need to be able to pass their board exams and effectively perform their duties in a clinical setting. Providing this type of education to students is the core of any AVMA accredited veterinary program. But additionally, students need to develop non-technical skills, such as critical thinking, communication, team building and diplomacy. Our school strives to incorporate these important aspects of veterinary technology across the curriculum by utilizing lab groups, shared animal care responsibilities, case study presentations, and group discussions, both in class and online. We also provide hands-on experience with animals and their owners with an on-site veterinary clinic and extensive externship programs at animal hospitals. Lastly, many of our faculty continues to work in a veterinary clinic, which inspires the students and lends a realistic perspective to their education.

Resources for Veterinary Assistants in California

Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab. .
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
 
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
Programs
  • Certificate - Veterinary Assistant
  • For more than 45 years, PMI has been dedicated to quality healthcare education
  • 17 campuses across 9 states including Arizona, California, Texas, Colorado & more
  • Accredited by the ABHES with multiple accreditations per specific program
  • Certificates, associates, and bachelor’s programs in leading healthcare fields
  • PMI offers financial aid to students who qualify for assistance
camnpus icon
San Marcos
Request Info
Programs
  • Veterinary Assistant
  • Founded in Southern California in 1998 by dog training expert Steven Appelbaum.
  • The largest independent dog training company in the United States.
  • Offers 11-stage programs that feature an in-home study component along with a hands-on training module.
  • A member of the MyCAA Financial Assistance program, which offers eligible military spouses up to $4,000 of tuition assistance that can be used towards any of their courses.
  • Helps graduates find employment and coaches those who are looking to start their own business.
Programs
  • Certificate - Veterinary Assistant
  • Offers a program that translates work and military experience into college credit, transfers in credit from other college programs, and offers the flexibility of day, evening and online coursework.
  • Provides in-person tutoring, IT support, access to library resources, and job placement assistant for graduates.
  • Features a new blended-learning curriculum, which involves a mix of campus and online courses.
  • Has 11 campuses across Southern California, Washington, and Alaska, and online courses with campus support. 
camnpus icon
Oxnard
Request Info
Programs
  • Medical Assistant (10-Month Diploma Program)
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
camnpus icon
Chula Vista
Request Info
Programs
  • Master of Public Health
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities ( beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Programs
  • Medical Specialties (AOS)

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

 

Congratulations! Your interest in California College San Diego is an important first step toward changing your life. A career-focused degree is the key to a new career with a potentially higher income, better benefits, and more satisfaction.

camnpus icon
San Marcos
Request Info
Programs
  • Allied Health Management - Bachelor of Science
  • Part of the Delta Career Education Corporation.
  • Each campus features a public spa and/or salon where students can gain real-world experience.
  • 17 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent colleges and Schools (ACICS), with programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  • Originally founded in 1916 in Wilmington, North Carolina by Judge Leon Motte.
Programs
  • Master of Business Administration: Healthcare Management

Our Lady of the Lake University is a private, Catholic university with a deep connection to the history and community of San Antonio. Founded in 1895 by the Congregation of Divine Providence, we have developed a reputation for our personal teaching style. Since 2011, OLLU has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. We are a university that helps students develop their full potential in an environment that's encouraging and stimulating.

Our online degree programs prepare professionals to provide leadership and make scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge in their fields, apply the most current information and technology to decision making and problem solving, work collaboratively, productively and ethically in culturally diverse settings, and contribute to the mission of the University by serving the needs of their communities.


Programs
  • Graduate Certificate in Public Health
  • Master of Public Health

UNE Online, through the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, strives to enhance, expand and enrich learning opportunities in online programs. The UNE Online staff is highly invested in the success of each enrolled student from application to graduation and beyond.

Programs
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
  • M.S. in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Nursing Degree Programs from Grand Canyon University's College of Nursing & Health Care Professions
  • Degree Variety: GCU offers a full-spectrum of nursing programs including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as post-master’s certificates.
  • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.aacn.nche.edu-accreditation).
  • GCU provides a Christian environment that provides an opportunity for you to embrace a holistic approach to caring for patients: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Depending on the degree you choose, you could take online, evening, or on-campus classes. Speak with an enrollment counselor to discuss your options!

More California Schools

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

School Name
Campus
Highest Award
Enrolled
Bakersfield
Associate
17,405
Visalia
Associate
11,697
Sacramento
Associate
12,967
Los Altos Hills
Associate
18,132
Salinas
Associate
9,890
Woodland Hills
Associate
19,526
Modesto
Associate
18,546
Walnut
Associate
29,842
Chula Vista
Associate
813
San Diego
Associate
21,437
Fresno
Associate
675
Santa Rosa
Associate
25,626
Redding
Associate
9,102
Marysville
Associate
9,904

Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Veterinary Assistants

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for California. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Veterinary Assistants

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Veterinary Assistants relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Bakersfield 190 $28,680
Chico 130 $25,690
Fresno N/A $28,800
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade 660 $28,030
Salinas 110 $28,710
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 3900 $28,940
Merced 70 $27,250
Modesto 160 $24,480
Napa 90 $29,320
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura 210 $34,000
Redding 60 $27,440
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario 970 $28,640
San Diego-Carlsbad 1460 $30,370
Santa Rosa 200 $29,930
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 1700 $34,790
Stockton-Lodi 70 $28,670
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara 550 $31,160
Vallejo-Fairfield 100 $32,320
Visalia-Porterville 70 $27,120
Yuba City 40 $27,130
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande 230 $29,680
Santa Cruz-Watsonville 80 $31,140
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara 190 $29,560

Sources:

  1. Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-assistants-and-laboratory-animal-caretakers.htm#tab-1
  2. Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm#tab-1
  3. Interview with Elizabeth White, Program Director of the Registered Veterinary Technology program at Pierce College in California

Career and College Resources

Real-World Career Reports
Career References and Original Articles
Back to Top