What Are the Average Salaries for Veterinary Assistants?

Are you looking to turn your love of animals into a career? As a veterinary assistant, you will help care for animals by assisting veterinarians and veterinary technologists or technicians. Read on to discover how the average salary varies depending on experience, location, and industry. Schools offering Veterinary Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education Requirements

In order to begin working in this field, you'll be required to have a high school diploma. Most veterinary assistants begin their careers with on-the-job training. However, you may choose to further develop your knowledge and skills through veterinary assistant training programs offered by technical schools and community colleges.

Important Facts About Veterinary Assistants

CertificationNot required, but may increase job opportunities
Key SkillsDexterity, physical strength, communication
Work EnvironmentAnimal hospitals, private vet clinics, research facilities; higher-than-average risk of on-the-job injury
Similar OccupationsVeterinary technologist, dental assistant, animal care worker

Average Salary Overview

You can expect to earn an average annual salary of $28,690 as a veterinary assistant or laboratory animal caretaker, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The top-paid 10% earned $38,890 or more annually, while the bottom-paid 10% earned $19,950 or less a year. The BLS also reported that the mean hourly wage was $13.79.

Salary by Experience

Your earnings may depend on how much experience you have in the field. The following are examples of salary ranges for the middle 80% of veterinary assistants based on experience as reported by PayScale.com in June 2019:

  • Entry-level: $17,890-$29,107
  • Mid-career: $21,241-$35,476
  • Late-career: $24,951 -$41,351

Salary by Location

The cost of living varies throughout the country and may affect what you can expect to earn. For instance, you may earn more as a veterinary assistant in California than you would in Florida. According to May 2018 BLS figures, the states with top average pay for this field were Massachusetts ($36,720), Connecticut ($34,850), Maine ($34,680), California ($32,480), and New York ($32,320).

The average annual salaries for the locations with the highest employment levels were reported by the BLS as of May 20184:

  • California: $32,480
  • Texas: $26,410
  • Florida: $27,450
  • New York: $32,320
  • Virginia: $26,750

Salary by Industry

Your salary may also depend on your employer's industry. Some of the industries with the highest levels of employment for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers in May 2018 included other professional, scientific and technical services; colleges, universities and professional schools; and scientific research and development services. Mean pay for these industries was $27,820, $39,370 and $34,750, respectively.

As reported by the BLS in May 2018, below are some examples of industries with the highest average salaries for veterinary assistants:

  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing: $47,950
  • Local government: $42,860
  • Colleges, universities and professional schools: $39,370

Job Outlook

The BLS expects veterinary assistant and laboratory animal caretaker employment growth to be 19% over the 2016-2026 decade. This level of growth is faster than average in comparison to all other occupations. The BLS notes that some practices will use veterinary technicians instead of assistants because they have more advanced skills; however, the continuing growth of the pet industry should increase the need for vet assistants. Job prospects are also expected to be favorable due to high turnover in this occupation.

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