CVMA Certified Veterinary Assistant Private Practice Program


CVMA CVA Private Practice Program

Veterinary practices can provide their veterinary assistants the opportunity to advance their knowledge and learn the skills needed to increase their value as a member of the veterinary practice team.

The CVMA CVA private practice program emphasizes training and skills in a variety of areas, including medical care, client communication, and practice safety through online learning and experience in the practice. A veterinarian or RVT will mentor the student throughout the program and assess and verify their skills along the way. Students in the program acquire their online education along with on-the-job practical experience and skills assessment and then go on to take their final examination online.

Benefits to Veterinary Assistants Enrolled in the Program

  • Experience professional growth and increase your value to the veterinary team
  • Become skilled at medical terminology and understand patient diseases
  • Continue to work in a veterinary hospital while learning online
  • CVMA CVA certificates upon completion of the Level I and Level II programs
  • One-year complimentary membership in the CVMA upon Level I certification

Benefits to Veterinary Practices

  • High-quality training for students on a flexible schedule
  • Improve patient care
  • Up to 10 staff members at one time (additional seats can be purchased) obtain access to the CVMA CVA curriculum and more than 1,000 training videos from ACT in both English and Spanish closed caption
  • This interactive format allows mentors to easily track the progress of veterinary assistants
  • Multiple staff members can enroll in the program at the same time, each working at their own pace
  • Reduced turnover by creating career opportunities, not just jobs

Program Fees
The CVMA CVA program is affordable and efficient.  To participate in the CVMA CVA program, practices must subscribe to the Animal Care Technologies (ACT) training library. The annual subscription allows the entire practice staff access to ACT’s complete training library and allows up to 10 users at one time to participate in the CVMA CVA curriculum.  Each staff member can learn at their own pace and there is no long term commitment. To receive the CVMA members-only $50 annual subscription discount, use code CAVET50 at checkout.

Participants with a current subscription to the Animal Care Technologies who have passed the CVMA CVA Level I program who wish to begin the Level II program will pay no additional subscription fee.

  • Certification testing fees for Level I and Level II are $169 CVMA members / $203 Non-members for each test and are paid at the time of the testing. (Practice must have at least one CVMA member veterinarian to receive the member discount.)
  • Renewal Program
    10 hours of continuing education units are required every two years plus a minimal certificate renewal fee ($30 Members/$100 Non-Members).


Registered Veterinary Technicianss and veterinarians may serve as mentor students enrolled in the CVMA CVA program.  This opportunity provides more informed and skilled team members in the practice and allows mentors to serve as role models to the CVMA CVA students. The CVMA CVA training process increases veterinary assistants’ appreciation of the advanced knowledge and skills of RVTs.

Student and Mentor Roles

CVMA CVA Level I Program

Veterinary assistants increase their knowledge through four components: online education materials, practical experience, evaluation (skills assessments), and a written examination.

Applicants are required to view more than 100 videos and documents as they participate in this online education. Participants of the CVMA CVA Level I program learn medical terminology, breed identification, how to give medications, proper lifting, and restraining techniques, how to safely handle chemicals – and much more.

The CVMA CVA Level I applicant is required to complete 600 hours of hands-on training. By learning on-the-job from highly-trained veterinarians and RVTs, students are able to continue working while they are learning. This model is not only an effective method of learning, but it also makes sense in tough economic times. CVMA CVA student participants will learn job duties such as how to care for animals, how to assist veterinarians during examinations, how to communicate with clients and their pets, and how to schedule appointments.

Mentors will evaluate the CVMA CVA Level I applicant’s ability to accomplish 100 skills from these areas of the task list:

  • Communication and Client Relations
  • Office Procedures and Medical Terminology
  • Animal Identification
  • Animal Restraint
  • Safety Concerns and Cleanliness
  • Auxiliary Skills
  • Pharmacy and Pharmacology
  • Laboratory Procedures
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Veterinary Dentistry
  • Surgical Preparation and Assisting

To become certified for two years, upon completion of the experience and education components (verified by ACT),, applicants must pass a certification exam.  The online exam consists of 100 randomly generated questions. The CVMA CVA Level I applicant will have a two-hour time limit to complete the exam and must score 75% or higher.

Maintaining CVMA CVA Certification
After becoming certified, CVMA CVA certificate holders may renew their certification by completing ten hours of continuing education from an approved provider list and pay a minimal certificate renewal fee ($30 Members/$100 Non-Members).

CVMA CVA Level I Program General Requirements

  • Applicant must be 16 years of age or older.
  • Practice must designate a California-licensed DVM or RVT mentor
    • Mentor must complete and return mentor responsibility agreement.
    • Limit of five CVMA CVA applicants per mentor.

CVMA CVA Level II Program

Level I CVMA Certified Veterinary Assistants can advance their knowledge even further with training in the CVMA CVA Level II program, increasing their value as a member of the veterinary practice team even further! CVMA CVAs will complete the online education component and the evaluation component (skills assessments task list) in this advanced program. Applicants are required to view 130 videos and documents as they participate in this online education. Participants of the CVMA CVA Level II program will learn about Recognizing Diseases and Symptoms, Anatomy, Cytology/Laboratory, Fluid Therapy and Medications, Wound Care/Triage Emergency, Dentistry, Exotics – and much more. They will also be required to pass a final written examination (passing score of 80% required). A student is eligible to take this test for the Level II course if they are a current CVMA CVA in good standing.

The CVMA CVA Committee oversees the program. This online program was created uniquely for the CVMA by Animal Care Technologies (ACT). Exam questions were written by the CVMA committee RVT and DVM members and reviewed by the CVMA RVT Committee.

One goal of the CVMA CVA program is to increase the expertise of veterinary assistants in California and encourage advancement to becoming an RVT. However, the curriculum is not a substitute for technical colleges that train RVTs. CVMA CVA participants who are interested in doing so are encouraged to take the next step and enroll in an RVT program.

For more information on the CVMA CVA program, contact Laura Phillips at the CVMA at 800.655.2862.

To receive the CVMA members-only $50 annual subscription discount, use code CAVET50 at checkout.

CVA Sign Up

CVA Logo Blue         ACT

© 2022 California Veterinary Medical Association

California Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps

Want to do something that saves lives, feels good and helps your community? Then volunteer to help animals when disasters...


Join the CVMA

As a CVMA member, you’ll have access to outstanding benefits and services.

View the benefits of membership »