Certified Veterinary Assistant

Well-established, high quality, formal educational programs exist to provide the education and training required by veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians. However, there has long existed a need to establish standards of competency and performance for individuals employed as veterinary assistants, the third member of the successful animal health-care team. The Texas Veterinary Medical Association developed the Certified Veterinary Assistant program to meet this need. If you have a question regarding the CVA program that is not answered below, please contact the TVMA Director of Credentialing at 512/610-6652 or lrespondek@tvma.org.

TVMA offers a simple cost-effective option for certification. The TVMA Veterinary Assistant Training Program is standardized and documents the basic skills and competencies required for animal care and assistance. The program will educate veterinary assistants in the essential skills and knowledge needed to become effective contributors to the veterinary medical care team. The best thing about this program is it can be completed in the veterinary hospital.

In order to receive CVA Level I certification, certain standard requirements must be met. These include:

  • 500 hours of work experience under the supervision of a DVM or LVT
  • Mastering all required Level I material
  • Gaining and demonstrating the hands-on skills listed on the Skills Validation Checklist
  • Exam Application and Skills Validation Checklist completed and approved by the DVM or LVT
  • Successful completion of the certification examination (70%)

To be certified under the TVMA program, the applicant must successfully demonstrate 100% of the required skills and competencies. Some of the required skills may not be regularly practiced in the clinic where the applicant has gained experience. However, it is the applicant’s responsibility to develop all skills listed. For example, if the required skill states that the applicant has "demonstrated the safe and proper method for placing a halter on a horse," and the clinic where the applicant works does not treat horses, the DVM or LVT who is validating this skill may make this determination by having the applicant describe how this process works and the steps one would take when performing this procedure. Once the supervisor is satisfied that the applicant understands how to perform the skill correctly, they may check the skill off the checklist, even though the actual horse was not available for demonstration.

Upon supervised completion of hours, the applicant can submit the Exam Application, Skills Validation Checklist, and payment by registering here. The certification exam can be taken online or on paper. Registration emails will be sent out to applicant and proctor (DVM or LVT) for online exams. Paper exams will be sent to the supervising DVM or LVT and must be returned within one week of receipt. Any applicant who passes the exam will receive a congratulatory letter, certificate and patch. We hope the newly designated CVA will display the certificate in a prominent place and will take considerable pride in their new designation. In the unfortunate event of an applicant failing the exam, the applicant will be eligible to re-take the exam as many times as needed and at a discounted price ($35).

Once the applicant has successfully achieved Level I certification, they must complete six months at Level I before they are eligible to sit for the Level II exam*. This is a standard time requirement that also applies to those moving from Level II to Level III* (*see CVA policies and guidelines posted above for exceptions to this time requirement). Although there is no allotted ‘time maximum,’ TVMA suggests that applicants begin preparation immediately upon receiving Level I certification in order to master the Level II exam material at the conclusion of the six months period. Study material for Level II and III is provided by Animal Care Technologies and can be purchased here.

TVMA recognizes that the school-based veterinary assistant programs consist of well-designed, highly organized content taught in classroom settings by well-qualified professional educators extending through 1-3 academic years. TVMA further recognizes that these state-approved programs consist of hands-on laboratory instruction, frequent live demonstrations, field work, internships and other interactive learning activities, which can achieve the same learning objectives envisioned for the on-the-job training requirements described above.

The program is meant to supplement a vet science curriculum (i.e. Texas A&M Agrilife, iCEV, etc).  Students are required to meet the following qualifications to obtain their CVA:

  • Program must include content addressing all the learning outcomes identified in TVMA standards and guidelines for CVA Level I
  • Applicants for certification from any school-based veterinary assistant program must have completed at least 9 months of the school-based program
  • Applicants for certification must be at least 16 years of age to test.
  • Hands on training hours will not be counted before age 14.
  • Payment of the certification fee (Check, Credit Card or PO accepted)
  • Successful completion of the certification examination, either online or paper format
  • Completed exam application (pages 1-6), with accompanying required signatures (Incomplete applications will be returned to the teacher for completion)

Candidates for certification must provide documentation that supports appropriate work experience as follows:

In order to insure the student understands the real, day-to-day workings of a typical veterinary hospital, a minimum of 300 of the 500 hours required must occur within a veterinary clinic or animal shelter setting with a DVM or LVT (CVT, RVT allowed for programs outside the state of Texas) on staff or in attendance to provide the required skill and techniques training. The variety of veterinary-supervised experiences that meet these criteria may also include (but is not limited to): volunteer work in a veterinary hospital, riding on large animal veterinary field calls, shelters that offer medical services through a veterinarian, etc.

TVMA has made every effort to develop the CVA program as a cost-effective service TO veterinarians and schools in Texas. We have priced each component of the program at the lowest possible cost consistent with a high-quality educational and certification program. These costs are outlined below:

  • Level I Training Manual, $159.95 members/ $189.95 non-members
  • Level II and Level III online training available HERE

The educational materials for CVA Level I are available for purchase from the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. You may order these materials online, by phone 512/ 610-6652 or emailing lrespondek@tvma.org. While purchase of these materials is not mandatory to sit for the exam, TVMA believes it is a very beneficial tool for any veterinary assistant committed to the field.

  • Certification Fees:
    Levels I, II, III (each)
  • Re-Test Fees:
    Levels I, II, III (each)
  • Annual Renewal Fees:

Each veterinary assistant at any level must complete a continuing education requirement for certificate renewal. During the calendar year preceding the date of expected renewal, the CVA must complete a minimum of five (5) hours of continuing education instruction. These CE hours may be acquired through any legitimate veterinary educational content produced and provided by a recognized provider, including but not limited to: state and local VMA meetings, online courses, professional seminars presented by veterinary companies, etc. Hours accumulated beyond the five required hours may be carried over to the next year’s requirement. CVA’s may take all five hours of CE online.


If you are CVA and would like to renew your certification, please click the link above and log in. If you are not yet a CVA and would like to apply to take an exam, please click link above and select
"Create a User Account."