Veterinary Assistant Salary

The veterinary assistant salary is at or slightly above the minimum wage, depending on how much experience you have.

Being a veterinary assistant is not the most financially rewarding job, but it can be very rewarding in other ways, and is a great first step if you desire to become a veterinarian or a vet tech. Working as a veterinary assistant is not an easy job. As an indispensable member of the Veterinary Medical Team, you will perform multiple tasks (source), including (but not limited to!) feeding patients, cleaning and disinfecting animal cages, examining animals and checking their vital signs, assisting in physical examinations, and collecting blood and tissue samples for laboratory testing—all under the guidance of a Veterinarian.

Despite the physically demanding nature of the job, becoming a veterinary assistant is exciting, emotionally rewarding, and mentally stimulating. Many veterinary assistants find that the money they earn is secondary to the sense of fulfillment they achieve. If you really have a passion for animal welfare, there is no other occupation that can compare.

 

How much does a veterinary assistant make?

 
playful beagle patient
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that the average annual veterinary assistant salary was $24,740. BLS analysts predict a 14% steady rise of employment through 2020. As long as the pet population continues to rise, there will always be a need for veterinary assistants. Statistical data from the May 2012 Occupational and Wages Report (source) by the U.S.

Here are some percentile wage estimates across the country:

Percentile Estimate

Hourly Wage

Annual Wage

Low (10-25%)

$ 8.25

$17, 150

Middle (50%)

$ 11.12

$ 23, 130

Upper (75-90%)

$17.07

$ 35, 510

 

What are the factors that can influence a veterinary assistant’s salary?

Completing a Veterinary Assistant Program is definitely beneficial, because those with certain certifications can expect better job opportunities, and can command a higher veterinary assistant salary than their counterparts. As a veterinary assistant, you can expect to start out earning minimum wage or slightly more, for the first few years. An initial income of $8 – $12 per hour is typical, but your pay rate should increase as you gain more experience in the field and take on extended responsibilities.

Here are some factors that determine your veterinary assistant salary:

• Work Hours. As a veterinary assistant, you might find yourself working in different types of environments, such as clinics, hospitals, private practices, and mobile units. Some of these establishments are open 24/7 and can provide you with the opportunity to work evenings, nights, and weekends. This means you can earn higher wages when working full-time or during holidays.

• Work Experience. If you have prior experience handling and working with animals, you may start out with a relatively higher salary compared to those who have little or no experience. Completing a veterinary assistant program can also increase your chances of earning higher wages.

• Type of Industry. How much you earn will also depend on who you’re working for. Large companies such as animal research facilities and pharmaceutical manufacturing centers are likely to pay more than smaller practices.

 

Which states have the highest employment level?

Sometimes you need to move out of town or to another state in order to enjoy a higher veterinarian assistant salary. Here are the top 5 states with the highest employment levels for veterinary assistants (according to the BLS):

State

Employment

Hourly MeanWage

Annual MeanWage

California

8,250

$ 13.46

$ 27,990

Texas

4,820

$ 11.24

$ 23,370

Virginia

3,500

$ 12.20

$ 25,370

New York

3,490

$ 13.48

$ 28,050

Florida

3,350

$ 10.52

$ 21,880

 

Which states have the highest veterinary assistant salary?

A veterinary assistant’s salary varies tremendously by geographical region, industry, and individual experience and skill level. Below are the highest paying states based on the latest U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics annual report:

State

Hourly Mean Wage

Annual Mean Wage

Massachusetts

$ 15.40

$ 32,040

Delaware

$ 15.12

$ 31,450

Maine

$ 14.49

$ 30,140

Connecticut

$ 14.41

$ 29,970

Alaska

$ 14.10

$ 29,330

 

There are lots of opportunities for growth and career development for veterinary assistants:

• Gaining experience in the Veterinary world may inspire you to pursue a career as a Veterinary Technician in the future.

• Or you can choose to earn a Bachelor’s degree and work your way up to become a licensed Veterinarian if you desire to advance your career in animal welfare.

Working as a veterinary assistant can be stressful, and doesn’t pay as well as some jobs. However, the joy of the experience is unlike any other—you help enrich the lives of animal companions which enriching yours as well.