How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in California

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California has many pet owners and this means there is a high demand for veterinary personnel.

Becoming a vet assistant in California is one of the fastest ways to get hired.

Read on to find out what you need to do!

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Requirements for a Veterinary Assistant in California

There aren’t many requirements for a future veterinary assistant.

Most of them are related to skills, age, and come from employers.

When it comes to the skills needed for this position, they’re as follows: 

  • Good communication
  • Able to multitask
  • Stress resistant
  • Time management
  • Anger management
  • Team player

Some of the skills are needed because you’ll work with angry or upset people as well.

A good physical condition is preferable, as handling some animals requires more strength.

According to the laws in California, individuals need only a high school diploma or GED to become a veterinarian assistant.

It’s the employers who usually require higher education or certifications than that.

The minimum age to get hired for this position is 18 years.

Veterinary Assistant Employment and Job Duties

There are a number of facilities hiring veterinarian assistants in California:

  • Pet clinics,
  • Animal rescue facilities,
  • Animal shelters
  • Zoos
  • Educational institutions

Depending on where you work, your duties and tasks as a vet’s assistant will differ.

Some of the most common tasks and duties include:

  • Managing client records
  • Keeping inventory count
  • Instrument sterilization and sanitation
  • Cage cleaning and disinfecting
  • Preparing rooms for examining animals
  • Preparing rooms for surgery
  • Maintaining updated medical records
  • Handling animal walking and exercise

Earning the National Certification for Veterinary Assistants in California

As per law, in California, individuals who want to become a veterinarian assistant needs:

  • To be at least 18 years old
  • A high school diploma or GED

In reality, employers will often ask for the national certification and sometimes even a degree in the field.

The national certification is issued by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (or NAVTA).

NAVTA will certify you as an Approved Veterinary Assistant after you pass the exam.

Only candidates who complete one of the following conditions are accepted to take the exam:

  • Complete the NAVTA-approved coursework
  • An internship – employment with a veterinarian is a must for this option
  • Obtain experiential learning – you must be working part-time in a vet office
  • Get certified while employed – you need permission to take the exam if you are already employed

The NAVTA course has a minimum duration of 6 months though it can last for up to 12 months.

No matter which method you choose for certification, you’ll need to keep the documents proving you qualify.

The examination fee is $100.

As mentioned, it’s possible to obtain other certifications and even degrees for this position.

These are awarded through:

  • High schools
  • Training centers
  • Community colleges
  • Online programs

Remember that each of these institutions will have different requirements for acceptance into their programs.

Some of the shortest classes are 72 hours in length and the youngest age at which you can enroll is 16.

The curriculum of these courses will cover these subjects, and not only:

  • How to identify different breeds
  • Animal anatomy
  • The best ways to administer meds
  • How to administer post-operative care
  • Handling various breeds of animals
  • Medical terminology
  • Handling chemicals

The shortest duration for a degree is 2 years.

The following schools offer both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees for future veterinarian assistants.

Top 73 Schools in California

School NameAddress
ADVANCED COLLEGE13180 Paramount Blvd.South Gate, CA
ADVENTIST HEALTH2100 Douglas Boulevard, Roseville, CA 95661
ALLIED AMERICAN UNIVERSITY22952 Alcalde DriveLaguna Hills, CA
AMERICAN CAREER COLLEGE1200 N. Magnolia Ave.Anaheim, CA
AMERICAN CAREER COLLEGE236 East 3rd StreetLong Beach, CA
AMERICAN CAREER COLLEGE4021 Rosewood AvenueLos Angeles, CA
AMERICAN CAREER COLLEGE3130 East Sedona CourtOntario, CA
AMERICAN COLLEGE OF HEALTHCARE11801 Pierce St., Suite 100Riverside, CA
AMERICAN COLLEGE OF HEALTHCARE6606 Pacific Blvd Ste 204Huntington Park, CA
ASHER COLLEGE1215 Howe Ave Suite 101Sacramento, CA
CALIFORNIA HEALING ARTS COLLEGE500 East Carson Plaza Drive, Suite 103Carson, CA
CANADA COLLEGE4200 Farm Hill Blvd.Redwood City, CA
CAREER COLLEGE CONSULTANTS5015 Eagle Rock Blvd Ste 302Los Angeles, CA
CAREER NETWORKS INSTITUTE702 W Town and Country RdOrange, CA
CENTRAL COAST COLLEGE480 S Main StreetSalinas, CA
CHARTER COLLEGE27125 Sierra Hwy Ste 329Canyon Country, CA
CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO50 Phelan AveSan Francisco, CA
CONCORDE CAREER COLLEGE-GARDEN GROVE12951 Euclid Street, Suite 101Garden Grove, CA
COSUMNES RIVER COLLEGE8401 Center ParkwaySacramento, CA
CYPRESS COLLEGE9200 Valley View St, Cypress, CA 90630,
DESERT REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER1150 N. Indian Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
DOWNEY ADULT SCHOOL12340 Woodruff AveDowney, CA
EAST LOS ANGELES COLLEGE1301 Avenida Cesar ChavezMonterey Park, CA
EMPIRE COLLEGE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS3035 Cleveland AveSanta Rosa, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE2215 W Mission RdAlhambra, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE511 North Brookhurst St., Suite 300Anaheim, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE12801 Crossroads Parkway SouthCity of Industry, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE1045 W. Redondo Beach Boulevard, Suite 275Gardena, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE1460 S. Milliken AveOntario, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE18040 Sherman Way Ste 400Reseda, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE500 West Santa Ana BlvdSanta Ana, CA
EVEREST COLLEGE3000 S Robertson Blvd #300Los Angeles, CA
FOUR-D COLLEGE1020 East Washington StreetColton, CA
GALAXY MEDICAL COLLEGE6400 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Suite 270North Hollywood, CA
GARFIELD MEDICAL CENTER525 N Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754
HACIENDA LA PUENTE ADULT EDUCATION14101 E. Nelson AveLa Puente, CA
INFOTECH CAREER COLLEGE8527 Alondra Blvd, #174Paramount, CA
INSTITUTE FOR BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY2400 Walsh AvenueSanta Clara, CA
INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY INC564 W HerndonClovis, CA
KAPLAN COLLEGE555 Broadway Suite 144Chula Vista, CA
KAPLAN COLLEGE4040 Vine StreetRiverside, CA
KAPLAN COLLEGE9055 Balboa AvenueSan Diego, CA
KAPLAN COLLEGE2022 University DrVista, CA
LAURUS COLLEGE81 Higuera St Ste 110San Luis Obispo, CA
LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY11139 Anderson StreetLoma Linda, CA
MAYFIELD COLLEGE35-325 Date Palm Dr. Ste 101Cathedral City, CA
MENDOCINO COLLEGE1000 Hensley Creek RoadUkiah, CA
MTI COLLEGE5221 Madison AveSacramento, CA
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY11255 North Torrey Pines RoadLa Jolla, CA
NORTH-WEST COLLEGE221 North BrandGlendale, CA
NORTH-WEST COLLEGE3799 E. Burnett StreetLong Beach, CA
NORTH-WEST COLLEGE530 E UnionPasadena, CA
NORTH-WEST COLLEGE170 W Holt AvePomona, CA
NORTH-WEST COLLEGE4550 La Sierra AveRiverside, CA
NORTH-WEST COLLEGE1840 E. 17th StreetSanta Ana, CA
NORTH-WEST COLLEGE2121 W Garvey AveWest Covina, CA
PALLADIUM TECHNICAL ACADEMY10503 Valley BlvdEl Monte, CA
PCI COLLEGE17215 Studebaker Rd #310Cerritos, CA
POMONA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT ADULT AND CAREER EDUCATION1515 W Mission BlvdPomona, CA
SAN DIEGO COLLEGE3350 Market St Ste CSan Diego, CA
SANTA BARBARA CITY COLLEGE721 Cliff DriveSanta Barbara, CA
SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE900 Otay Lakes RdChula Vista, CA
SUMMIT COLLEGE851 S. Cooley DrColton, CA
UEI COLLEGE2002 N Gateway Blvd.Fresno, CA
UEI COLLEGE661 West Redondo Beach BlvdGardena, CA
UNITED EDUCATION INSTITUTE6055 Pacific BoulevardHuntington Park, CA
UNIVERSITY OF ANTELOPE VALLEY44055 Sierra HighwayLancaster, CA
VALLEY COLLEGE OF MEDICAL CAREERS8399 Topanga Canyon Blvd Ste 200West Hills, CA
WESTECH COLLEGE9490 Sierra AvenueFontana, CA
WESTWOOD COLLEGE20 W 7th StUpland, CA
WESTWOOD COLLEGE3250 Wilshire Blvd Ste 400Los Angeles, CA
WESTWOOD COLLEGE19700 S. Vermont Avenue, Suite 100Torrance, CA
WYOTECH2161 Technology PlaceLong Beach, CA

Be aware that you are not ensured to obtain the NAVTA certificate through a degree program.

Salary Information for a Veterinary Assistant in California

In California, salaries for vet assistants are higher compared to other states.

Your salary will also be influenced by the city you work in, your credentials, as well as the type of facility employing you.

Annual Salary Range:

$28K
$35K
$42K

Average Salary of Veterinary Assistants in California

City NameSalary
Los Angeles$35,993
San Diego$34,344
San Jose$39,940
San Francisco$39,781
Long Beach$35,485
Fresno$31,659
Sacramento$34,399
Oakland$37,872
Santa Ana$35,517
Anaheim$35,564
* Salary information last updated 2022

Additional Information for Veterinary Assistants in California

Individuals who obtained the certification from NAVTA need to have it renewed.

The renewal period is after every 2 years.

The process involves the payment of a fee as well as continuing their education with relevant classes.

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