Becoming an Veterinary Assistant in Texas

A career as a veterinary assistant is a great way to earn a living while doing something you’re passionate about. These professionals assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians, helping with exams and procedures, while also providing basic animal care and completing administrative duties.

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Veterinary Assistant Certification Texas

The state of Texas defines two types of veterinary assistant: certified and not certified. A veterinary assistant is defined as any individual employed by a licensed veterinarian, who performs animal care tasks and is neither certified nor a veterinary technician. A certified veterinary assistant is an employee of a licensed veterinarian, who has been certified by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA).

To some degree, the duties of a vet assistant depend on the employer. These often include basic animal care as well as administrative work. The state of Texas also defines certain tasks that veterinary assistants can do under supervision of a veterinarian or vet tech, including:

  • Closing wounds with sutures
  • Administering anesthesia
  • Drawing blood
  • Procuring samples from an animal for testing

How to Become a Vet Assistant in Texas

Texas does not have any requirements for becoming a veterinary assistant. It is recommended, however, that individuals who want to work in this field have a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED. It is also beneficial to complete an educational program after high school to learn basic animal care and veterinary office skills. Veterinary assistant programs are typically less than a year long and confer a diploma or certificate.

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Veterinary Assistant Programs in Texas

Completing a post-secondary program in veterinary assisting is not required in Texas, but it is recommended. There are a few programs in the state that teach students the skills and knowledge needed to work with a veterinarian or vet tech and to provide animals with good care.

Both campuses of the Pima Medical Institute in Texas, in El Paso and Houston, offer a nine-month-long certificate program in veterinary assisting. The program includes both classroom study and hands-on externship experiences for a total of 30 credit hours.

Cedar Valley College in Lancaster offers a program for veterinary technician assisting. It includes continuing education courses but is not a certificate- or diploma-granting program. Palo Alto College in San Antonio has a program available for future veterinary assistants, and it prepares students to become certified by the TVMA. It is a 32-credit, certificate course.

TVMA Certification

The TVMA offers three levels of certification for veterinary assistants in the state. This certification is not required, but it is a good way for individuals to show employers that they have certain skills and knowledge. To achieve the first level as a certified veterinary assistant (CVA), candidates must have at least 500 hours of work experience, be able to demonstrate hands-on skills and pass the exam.

To achieve CVA levels II and III, a veterinary assistant must complete six additional months of hands-on work experience. At the end of each six months, they are then eligible to take and pass the next certification level exam. To keep the certification up-to-date, CVAs must renew each year for a $30 fee and show proof of the completion of at least five credits of continuing education.

NAVTA Certification

Veterinary assistants in Texas may also choose to get nationally certified through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). The organization offers the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification for those who want national recognition for their skills and knowledge. Vet assistants in Texas who want to qualify to take the AVA exam can do so by proving they have a certain amount of work experience.

Career Outlook for Veterinary Assistants in Texas

In all states, careers for veterinary assisting are on the rise with a job growth rate of 19 percent. In Texas there are more than 5,000 vet assistants employed currently, but that number is expected to continue to grow. The average annual salary for these professionals in the state is $23,860, but there is room to earn more with experience and certification.

Salaries in Texas by Region

AreaTotal EmployedAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Salary
Abilene, TX**$10.33$21,490
Amarillo, TX30$9.49$19,730
Austin-Round Rock, TX550$11.92$24,790
College Station-Bryan, TX100$14.24$29,610
Corpus Christi, TX**$9.89$20,580
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX1,190$11.04$22,960
El Paso, TX**$12.37$25,730
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX1,160$12.14$25,240
Killeen-Temple, TX110$10.62$22,090
Longview, TX40$9.71$20,200
Lubbock, TX**$10.89$22,640
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX680$11.93$24,810
Texarkana, TX-AR50$9.10$18,930
Tyler, TX**$9.09$18,900
Waco, TX40$11.07$23,030

Most vet assistants work in veterinary offices, animal hospitals and clinics, animal emergency centers and specialty veterinary offices. Other employers for vet assistants include universities, laboratories, rescue groups and animal shelters, and ranches. While there are opportunities in small towns and rural areas, most veterinary assistants in Texas are employed in and around the major population centers, including Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso and San Antonio.

If you live in Texas and are interested in working with animals, a career as a veterinary assistant is a great option. You can train and be hired in less than a year and get started working with and handling animals.

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College and University Listings

Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division Area

Weatherford College

225 College Park Drive, Weatherford, Texas 76086-5699
Veterinary Assisting – Certificate Program

Weatherford College’s Certificate program in Veterinary Assisting is offered at their campus in the town of Weatherford, Texas. The majority of of the school’s 5,613 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are likely to be about $2,400 and are $3,720 and $5,280 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost about $1,200, although this will depend on the program.

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX Area

Houston Community College

3100 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program

Houston Community College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is offered at their campus in the city of Houston, TX. The majority of of the school’s 58,276 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Tuition fees for in-district students are roughly about $1,632 and are $3,360 and $3,756 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Books and supplies can cost roughly $3,000, although this will depend on the program.

Pima Medical Institute-Houston

10201 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas 77024
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program

The Certificate program at Pima Medical Institute can be taken at their Houston campus in the city of Houston, TX. The majority of of the school’s 993 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. The cost of tuition for the Vet Tech program is about $12,024 for each academic year. Books and supplies can cost roughly $743. The typical program completion time is 8 months.

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Area

Palo Alto College

1400 W Villaret Blvd, San Antonio, Texas 78224-2499
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program

The Certificate program at Palo Alto College can be taken at their campus in the city of San Antonio, TX. The majority of of the school’s 8,376 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,088 and are $5,550 and $10,740 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Books and supplies can cost roughly $2,074, although this will depend on the program.

Waco, TX Area

McLennan Community College

1400 College Dr, Waco, Texas 76708
Veterinary Assistant – Certificate Program

McLennan Community College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is taught at their campus in the city of Waco. This public college has about 8,294 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,760 and are $3,192 and $4,560 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Books and supplies can cost roughly $1,260, although this will depend on the program.

* 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

Texas residents have further educational options in the neighboring states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. You can find vet technician programs in Texas here.