Becoming a veterinary assistant in Florida starts with finding the best training program for your needs. The right program will fit your budget, time constraints and most importantly teach you everything you need to know to start working in the field immediately upon completion of the course. These programs are taught by professionals in the industry who will teach you everything from administrative duties to handling chemicals and animal breed identification. The right course will also teach you medical terminology, procedural methods and how to handle equipment.
In Florida, there are multiple training programs for you to choose from. Each one has its own benefits, but as long as the course is properly accredited, you’ll be getting a quality education that will prepare you for your new job.
Job Criteria and Program Basics
When you are a veterinary assistant you are heavily relied on. For example, if you work in a typical veterinary office you’ll be tasked with various duties. You’ll generally be in charge of caring for the animals including feeding, bathing, grooming and walking them. You can also be asked to help with exams and surgical procedures. In a standard office, you will also have administrative duties like answering phones, managing the files, setting appointments and keeping track of the inventory. These duties can be different if you work elsewhere, like in animal hospitals, zoos, kennels, shelters or other animal facilities. However, no matter where you end up working, you’ll be fully prepared to do your job thanks to the available training programs.
Every veterinary assistant training program will have its own structure and standards, but there are rules of thumb that can guide you until you begin to look into the specifics of each course. In general, a program will last from 100 to 300 hours spread over a period of weeks or months. There are even some courses that can take a full semester or two through secondary education schools. These are usually divided up into in-class sessions and hands-on fieldwork. There are also online courses available for those who prefer distance learning. In Florida, particularly, there is a specific training course that takes at least nine months to complete.
In terms of fees, veterinary assistant courses can range from $1,000 to $3,000 on average. Online courses can be less expensive, ranging from $500 to $2,000. These fees usually include books and materials, but there are some programs where the tuition fee and the material fees are separate. For example, there is a program in Florida that has a monthly tuition fee of $59 a month (for at least nine months) with additional fees applied for every credit you need to take. Along with that are testing fees for your exams as well as additional expenses for books and materials.
While these prices might seem steep, they’re worth it since veterinary assistants in the state make around $23,000 a year. This annual salary can be closer to $30,000 a year for those working in places like Tampa, Fort Lauderdale or other large cities. Your salary can also be affected based on your experience.
|Area||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL||**||$14.65||$30,470|
|Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL||80||$11.75||$24,440|
|Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL||**||$10.73||$22,310|
|Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL||50||$12.25||$25,480|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL||1,330||$13.14||$27,330|
|Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL||40||$11.78||$24,490|
|North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL||120||$11.37||$23,650|
|Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||180||$12.02||$25,000|
|Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL||**||$11.61||$24,150|
|Port St. Lucie, FL||**||$12.15||$25,270|
|Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL||60||$11.72||$24,390|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||980||$10.46||$21,760|
Florida has plenty of training programs available, including the different online options. Here are some of the notable ones:
- Orange Technical College in Winter Garden
- The Marion County Community Technical and Adult Education Center in Ocala
- Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota
Compare all of your options and see which suits you best in terms of cost, length, proximity and how it fits your personal needs.
Educational Requirements to Begin Training and Work
In Florida, there are no state-mandated requirements to become a veterinary assistant. Usually, employers want their assistants to have at least a high school diploma or something equivalent. While there are no licensing or certification requirements for you to work in your position, there are a few different certifications available for you to pursue in Florida.
First, any training program will give you a completion certificate to show that you finished the course successfully. There are also two additional certifications available, the nationally recognized Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certificate offered by NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America) and the Certified Florida Veterinary Assistant certification offered through the Florida Veterinary Medical Association (FVMA). Neither of these is necessary, but they can help you ask for a higher salary and help you get a job easier than others.
You can get the NAVTA AVA certification by taking a NAVTA-approved course (available online through approved NAVTA partners) and paying $100 to take the certification exam. Once you pass the test you’ll get your certification. You’ll just have to take continuing education courses and pay a $10 renewal fee every two years to maintain the certification.
The FVMA CVA certification is available through an Animal Care Technologies partner. There, you must complete no less than nine months of the approved curriculum, accrue practical experience, complete competency assessments and pass a final exam before receiving your certification.
After you finish the training program of your choice you’ll be able to begin working immediately. Expect to find work in places like:
- VCA Gulf Bay Animal Hospital in Clearwater
- Banfield Pet Hospital Lakeland
- Vetco Wellness Centers in Petco (various locations throughout the state)
You can, of course, also find employment in local veterinarian offices, animal clinics/hospitals and similar facilities.
Now that you know what it takes to become a veterinary assistant in Florida, you can begin your journey. Remember to choose the program that suits your needs the best.
College and University Listings
1014 SW 7th Rd, Ocala, Florida 34471-3172Veterinary Assisting – Certificate Program
The Veterinary Assisting Certificate program at Marion County Community Technical and Adult Education Center is based at their campus in the city of Ocala, Florida. The college has roughly 381 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is over 80%. The cost of tuition is usually in the order of $2,312 yearly. Study materials can cost about $1,506, depending on the program chosen.
955 E Story Rd, Winter Garden, Florida 34787-3733Veterinary Assisting – Certificate Program
The Certificate program at Westside Tech is offered at their campus in Winter Garden in Orange County, FL. Most of the school’s 964 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The cost of tuition is usually in the order of $3,484 yearly. Study materials can cost about $1,077, depending on the program chosen.
10119 East Ellicott Street, Tampa, Florida 33610Veterinary Assisting – Certificate Program
Aparicio-Levy Technical College’s Certificate program is offered at their campus in Tampa in Hillsborough County. The college has roughly 181 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. The Vet Tech program, with a duration of 750 contact hours, is the college’s largest program. Tuition fees are usually around $2,370 yearly. Study materials can cost about $98, depending on the program chosen.
* Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.