Becoming an Veterinary Assistant in Oregon

If you love animals and want to put that passion into action, there are few jobs that are more satisfying to an animal lover than that of a veterinary assistant. Veterinary assistants are key members of veterinary teams, who work closely with veterinarians and veterinary technicians to provide care for animals.

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The state of Oregon does not have an exact definition of the duties of a veterinary assistant. Some responsibilities may vary by employer, but most technical and administrative skills expected of veterinary assistants are the same. Some of these duties include: scheduling appointments and answering phone calls, managing records, explaining procedures and treatments to pet owners, feeding, exercising and grooming animals, restraining animals during procedures, and assisting veterinarians with surgical procedures and aftercare of the animals.

Education and experience are not a statewide requirement to work as a veterinary assistant in the state of Oregon. However, most employers prefer to hire someone with a high school diploma or GED and some background working with animals. Some employers may also look more favorably on potential employees who have completed a veterinary assistant education program.

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Finding a Veterinary Assistant Program in Oregon

If you are looking to complete a veterinary assistant program on campus in Oregon, there are quite a few for you to choose from. Carrington College, which has a campus in Portland, has a 36-week veterinary assistant program that includes an externship. The total cost for this program is $14,765. This includes tuition, registration fees, electronic book and equipment fees, lab kits, supplies and uniforms. This program does have a 90.2-percent graduate employment rate.

Another program to consider is the one at Abdill Career College in Medford. This program lasts 35 weeks and includes an externship. Coursework includes general education curriculum as well classes specific to the veterinary assistant program. Total cost of the program is approximately $14,000. This includes tuition, externship fee, books, supplies, uniforms and all other costs associated with this program.

The shortest and cheapest veterinary assistant program is the one that can be taken at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany. This 17-week training program starts in January of each year and ends in May. It consists of 13 weeks of classroom instruction and four weeks of clinical work in a veterinary practice. Cost of tuition is $5,000. Textbooks, supplies and other fees may apply. Scholarships, financial aid and a deferred payment option are available.

If there are not any campuses that offer veterinary assisting programs near you, or you prefer the convenience of online classes, Penn Foster Career School online may be a better choice. The Penn Foster program takes seven months to complete, including an externship. Tuition is approximately $900 and can be paid all at once or in monthly installments. Another benefit of this program is that it is approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), which means that anyone who completes this program will be qualified to take the certification test to become a nationally certified AVA.

Veterinary assistants interested in becoming an AVA must first complete a NAVTA-approved program, complete an externship or work for a veterinary hospital at least 20 hours a week. They will then need to pay $100 to take the certification test. AVA certification requires renewal every two years. A $10 fee as well as proof of taking at least 10 continued education credits is required for renewal.

Finding Employment as a Veterinary Assistant

Once you complete a veterinary assistant program of your choosing, you will be ready to seek employment in the state of Oregon. The Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) are nationally known animal hospitals that have hundreds of hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. There are 20 VCA hospitals in Oregon, including the cities of Medford, Eugene, Portland and Salem. PETCO pet stores have animal vaccination and wellness clinics inside of them, called VETCO clinics. There are 17 VETCO locations in Oregon. Also, Bend, Oregon, is home to a Banfield Pet Hospital, another nationally known veterinary establishment. Banfield does prefer that their employees have completed a NAVTA-approved veterinary assistant program, but it is not required.

Veterinary assistants in Oregon may also be able to find work in various veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, animal shelters and zoos. Oregon also has animal clinics that focus specifically on dental care and dermatology. If you have trouble finding a veterinary assistant opening, you may also want to consider working as a kennel attendant or technician or an animal groomer to gain some experience.

Salaries in Oregon by Region

AreaTotal EmployedAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Salary
Albany, OR**$11.33$23,570
Corvallis, OR60$13.54$28,160
Eugene, OR150$12.25$25,470
Grants Pass, OR40$12.10$25,170
Medford, OR60$12.69$26,390
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA1,120$14.37$29,890
Salem, OR**$14.52$30,200

There are approximately 1,420 veterinary assistants employed in the state of Oregon. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary assistants working in Oregon make an average of $14.38 an hour and have an average yearly salary of $29,900. However, veterinary assistants in seven Oregon cities, including Beaverton, Oregon City and Portland, all report average annual salaries of over $31,000. Experience and education may play to your favor when it comes to earning potential. If you are looking to start a career as a veterinary assistant, now is a very good time as the employment rate of veterinary assistants in Oregon is expected to increase by 14 percent over the next six years.

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Get information on Veterinary Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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College and University Listings

Medford, OR Area

Abdill Career College Inc

843 E Main Ste 203, Medford, Oregon 97504-7137
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program

Abdill Career College Inc’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is taught at their campus in the city of Medford, Oregon. This private, for-profit college has about 41 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Tuition fees are likely to be around $9,270 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $4,145, although this will vary with the program.

North Central Oregon nonmetropolitan area Area

Blue Mountain Community College

2411 NW Carden Ave, Pendleton, Oregon 97801
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program

The Certificate program at Blue Mountain Community College can be taken at their campus in Pendleton in Umatilla County, OR. Most of the school’s 1,731 students are on 2-year programs. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually around $4,443 and for out-of-state students in the order of $12,339 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,364, although this will vary with the program.

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Area

Carrington College-Portland

2004 Lloyd Center, 3rd Floor, Portland, Oregon 97232-1309
Veterinary Assisting – Certificate Program

Carrington College’s Certificate program is offered at their Portland campus in the city of Portland, OR. This private, for-profit college has about 100 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Tuition fees for the Vet Tech program are likely to be around $14,265 yearly. Study materials can cost about $580. Typically, the program is completed in 9 months.

Southern Oregon & Linn County nonmetropolitan area Area

Linn-Benton Community College

6500 Pacific Blvd SW, Albany, Oregon 97321
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program

Linn-Benton Community College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is offered at their campus in the city of Albany, Oregon. This public college has around 5,314 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Fees for tuition for in-state students are about $4,265 and for students from other states likely to be about $9,313 yearly. Study materials can cost about $1,602, 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.

Other Options

See also the neighbor states of Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California. You can find vet technician programs in Oregon here.