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 basic 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.

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.

With the CVMA CVA program, veterinary assistants increase their knowledge through four components: online education materials, practical experience, evaluation (skills assessments), and a written examination.

Through this CVMA-endorsed program, veterinary assistants learn the skills and knowledge needed to advance their careers and be effective members of the veterinary team.  Applicants are required to view more than 100 videos and documents as they participate in this online education. Participants learn medical terminology, breed identification, how to give medications, proper lifting and restraining techniques, how to safely handle chemicals – and a lot more.

The 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 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 and verification of this by ACT, applicants must pass a certification exam.  The online exam consists of 100 randomly generated questions. The 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 certificate renewal fee.

CVMA CVA 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.

Program Fees
The CVMA CVA program is affordable and efficient.  The low cost monthly subscription fee allows the entire practice (up to 20 users) access to the CVMA CVA curriculum, as well as ACT’s complete training library.  Each staff member can learn at their own pace and there is no long term commitment.

Certification credits are prepaid before each applicant for the CVMA CVA takes their final exam. The initial program signup fee ($190 CVMA members / $229 Non-members) includes the first month’s subscription fee and one prepaid certification credit.

Practice must have at  least one CVMA-member veterinarian to receive the member discount.

Products CVMA Members Non Members
Buy First certification credit $149.00 $183.00
Monthly Subscription Fee (required) $54.00 $59.00
Additional Certification Credits (optional) $149.00 $183.00
Retest Fee (if needed) $40.00 $40.00

Renewal Program
10 hours of continuing education units are required every two years.


CVMA Members Non Members
Renewal Fee $30.00 Renewal Fee $100.00

Benefits to Veterinary Practices

  • High-quality training for students on a flexible schedule.
  • Improve patient care.
  • Up to 20 staff members obtain access to the CVMA CVA curriculum and more than 700 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.

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 certificate upon completion of the program.
  • One-year complimentary membership in the CVMA upon certification.

RVTs and DVMs have the opportunity to be mentors to students enrolled in the CVMA CVA program. RVTs benefit from having more informed and skilled team members and serve as role models to the CVMA CVA students. The CVMA CVA training process also helps veterinary assistants appreciate the advanced knowledge and skills of RVTs.

Student and Mentor Roles

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.

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