How to Become a Veterinary Assistant in Pennsylvania

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When you work with animals, you also work with people.

Becoming a veterinary assistant in Pennsylvania is relatively easy since this is an entry-level position.

Read on to find out more about this occupation!

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Veterinary Assistant Employment and Job Duties in Pennsylvania

Not everyone knows where a vet assistant works and what their responsibilities are.

These professionals can work in many different settings, like:

  • Animal clinics,
  • Animal rescue facilities,
  • Animal shelters
  • Zoos
  • Veterinary emergency centers

Wanting to work for one of the most reputable companies in Pennsylvania is normal, so here are some of them:

  • Veterinary Centers of America
    • Their centers are found in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Yardley, and Dunmore.
  • Banfield Pet Hospital
    • This hospital can be found in Philadelphia, Mechanicsburg, Lancaster, Warminster, and Plymouth Meeting.

Each facility will give its personnel different duties.

We’ll later talk about the different hiring requirements as well.

Vet assistants are responsible for:

  • Assisting with surgeries
  • Applying bandages
  • Monitoring anesthesia and vital signs
  • Collecting samples
  • Administering medications
  • Giving subcutaneous fluids
  • Filling prescriptions
  • Communicating with clients
  • Making appointments
  • Inventory control
  • Cleaning vet gear
  • Sanitizing animal cages
  • Operation room cleaning
  • Prepping exam and operating spaces
  • Keeping records updated
  • Pay attention to the dietary needs of pets
  • Make sure the animals get enough exercise

Becoming Certified as a Vet Assistant in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania didn’t set up any educational requirements for future veterinary assistants.

When it comes to employers, they might expect you:

  • To be at least 18 years old
  • To have a high school diploma or GED
  • To have good communication and organizational skills
  • To be detail-oriented
  • To have some related certification
  • To possibly have some previous experience in working or handling animals

Not everyone has previous experience in working with animals.

For them, volunteering for some time can be an excellent option to accumulate some experience.

Another way in which a candidate can stand out is through the AVA certification.

You can obtain it by attending a training program approved by NAVTA.

With this certification, you can work as a veterinary assistant in any American state.

Not everyone can attend a program in person.

If you’re one of these people, you can also complete one of the following:

  • Enroll in an online NAVTA program
  • Enroll in an externship
    • This option is perfect for those with no veterinary experience.
  • Experiential Learner
    • Requires you to work 20 hours per week in a facility for animals.
  • Veterinary Assistant Program
    • You need to already work at least part-time in the field.

The certification requires:

  • An application
  • The documents proving their eligibility
  • The fee for the application and certificate – $350
  • Passing an exam

Earning Other Credentials

The AVA certification is great for employment in the veterinary field, but you can also obtain a degree.

A degree takes at least 2 years of education and can be more beneficial for your career in the future.

Check out these schools before you make a decision!

Top 5 Schools in Pennsylvania

School NameAddress
Dauphin County Technical School6001 Locust Ln, Harrisburg, PA 17109
Great Lakes Institute of Technology5100 Peach Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16509-2482
Franklin County Career and Technology Center2463 Loop Rd, Chambersburg, PA 17202
Lancaster County Career and Technology Center1730 Hans Herr Drive Willow Street, PA 17584
Parkway West Technology Center7101 Steubenville Pike Oakdale, PA 15071

The topics covered by training include:

  • Animal Life Stages Nutrition and Husbandry
  • Animal Nursing and Diagnostic Imaging
  • Pharmacology and Principles of Anesthesia
  • Aseptic Technique and Surgical Assisting

It’s also possible to specialize in a particular field related to the veterinary practice:

  • Dental Technician
  • Anesthetist
  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Behavior Technician
  • Zoological Medicine
  • Equine
  • Clinical Practice
  • Nutrition
  • Clinical Pathology

Salary Information for a Veterinary Assistant in Pennsylvania

In cities like Philadelphia, Upper Darby, Bensalem, and Abington, you can earn a much higher salary than the median one at the state level.

Keep in mind that extra certifications can help you by default to earn more, from the start.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Veterinary Assistants in Pennsylvania

City NameSalary
Upper Darby$34,159
Lower Merion$30,820
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in Pennsylvania

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ270$32,600$15.67$37,000$26,970
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA30$30,880$14.85$35,430$28,290
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA50$30,960$14.88$36,490$23,870
East Stroudsburg, PA60$31,330$15.06$36,730$24,430
Erie, PA70$29,440$14.15$35,710$22,530
Gettysburg, PA30$31,750$15.26$35,580$23,190
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA170$32,280$15.52$36,630$26,890
Johnstown, PA30$27,390$13.17$34,820$20,940
Lancaster, PA190$32,590$15.67$36,250$27,620
Lebanon, PA30$30,300$14.57$36,720$23,040
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD1,920$35,010$16.83$43,690$28,510
Pittsburgh, PA870$32,820$15.78$38,380$27,620
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA100$32,400$15.58$38,160$24,100
State College, PA90$31,290$15.04$37,380$23,070
Williamsport, PA40$29,120$14$36,660$20,300
* 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.

Additional Information About Vet Assistants in Pennsylvania

Every two years, those who earned the AVA certification need to pay $250 to renew their credential.

They might have to meet a few additional requirements as well.

The rules related to the veterinary medical field can change in time.

To make sure you’re always informed, make sure to check regularly the websites of these associations:

  • VetMedTeam
  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • Pennsylvania SPCA
  • Western Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association
  • Humane Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association
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