A future as a veterinary assistant provides the chance to earn a stable living with plenty of job security. There is also the potential to earn a comfortable living as vet assistant salaries have a broad range when it comes to pay rates. It does not take long to complete the necessary training to begin working as a veterinary assistant, which means a full-time salary could be right around the corner.
Veterinary Assistant Average Salaries
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported the average salary of vet assistants to be $25,250, although that can stretch as high as $37,810 annually. Those are just averages, meaning there is the capability of making more than that annual amount. The annual salary range is difficult to pinpoint because there are many different factors that go into that exact salary amount.
Some veterinary assistants are paid hourly and that also has a sliding scale. Other vet assistants are on salary, although that is a decision left up to the hiring facility. Vet assistants can work on a full-time or part-time basis as animal healthcare facilities often have the need for both of those positions. Determining the exact salary is usually done during the hiring process, although some vet facilities have a fixed rate when looking to fill a new position. A lot is contingent on the way the hiring animal healthcare facility conducts its hiring.
Vet Assistant Salary Factors
There is not a universal pay rate for veterinary assistants as salaries have a sliding scale. There are a lot of different factors go into determining the salary of a veterinary assistant and they are as follows:
• Experience – The longer that vet assistants have worked in the industry, the more they can expect to earn on an annual basis. Remaining at one animal healthcare facility for an extended period of time can also mean incremental raises for vet assistants.
• Work setting – Veterinary practices are places of healing, although they are still businesses. The more successful ones can afford to pay their employees higher wages. On the other hand, overstaffed and underfunded facilities often mean less pay for vet assistants.
• Certification – The more training that vet assistants receive, the more valuable they become on the job market. Becoming an AVA (Approved Veterinary Assistant) can open up a lot of new job opportunities that feature higher salaries.
• Location – Those working in certain areas are exposed to higher pay rates, simply because of the geographic location. Different cities have different pay rates and where you choose to work has a great deal of influence on what you can expect to earn as a vet assistant.
Vet Assistant Salaries by State
The state of Connecticut is the highest paying state for veterinary assistants as the average salary is $36,240, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Massachusetts is the second highest paying state, with an average salary of $34,900 annually. Beyond that, Maine checks in at No.3 with an average salary of $32,950 and that is followed up by New Jersey ($31,750) and Rhode Island ($31,460).
It is important to note that salaries are not consistent throughout an entire state. For example, Ithaca, NY features an average annual salary of $38,760, although it is home to just over 3% of all the veterinary assistants in the state of New York. The fluctuation of salary also depends a lot on the supply and demand of vet assistants.
Cost of living is another consideration when examining veterinary assistant salaries throughout the country. The southern states are lower on the salary scale for veterinary assistants, although the cost of living in that region is significantly lower than the cost of living in the New England states, where average salaries are higher.
Hawaii and Alaska have high annual salaries as does the states of Washington, Oregon and California. However, different regions of those states offer higher pay rates than others. The highest-paying metropolitan area is New Haven, CT, where the average salary is $48,130 annually. Boston and Santa Fe are also two of the higher-paying cities when it comes to veterinary assistants.
Vet Assistant Salary vs. School Debt
Many professions that offer high-paying salaries often require extensive schooling, which comes with high tuition costs. Doctors wind up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars before they even start practicing. The same goes for veterinarians as finishing up veterinary college can be a costly expense. Meanwhile, the cost of tuition to become a veterinary assistant dims in comparison.
Vet assistants can start working without being encumbered by high amounts of debt as their training costs are a fraction of what many other job training programs wind up costing in terms of education. Vet assistants typically start working without the stress of high tuition debts weighing upon them.
Vet Assistant Certification and Salary
The importance of attaining a certificate should not be underestimated when it comes to determining the salary of a veterinary assistant. Many veterinary practices place a high value on vet assistants who hold some kind of certificate. This signifies that the vet assistant has been adequately trained, meaning that they are more reliable than a non-certified vet assistant. This typically leads to an increase in pay as well. Vet assistants can even earn the distinction of Approved Veterinary Assistant, which adds to their credentials.
The NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America) oversees a veterinary assistant approval program that was first established in 2010. The program grants approval to veterinary training programs based upon the quality of their curriculum. A list of NAVTA Approved Veterinary Assistant Programs can be found here. As of now, there are 35 approved programs in the U.S. and Canada, and that also counts 3 approved online programs. Those interested in learning more about an online accredited program can find more information here. Accreditation can translate into higher salaries and also present vet assistants with more employment options.