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Online Colleges for Veterinary Assistants

Anyone whose pet has ever been hurt or sick knows it's important to have a team of loving, knowledgeable people available to treat animals. Veterinary assistants are key members of that team.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans have pets, so veterinary assistants are in demand. Plus, many veterinary assisting training programs are now offered online. This makes it even easier for dedicated students to get started in this career. Also, the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) title was created to recognize the important role veterinary assistants play. Many online veterinary assisting programs offer the AVA certification, including some listed on this page. This certification is optional, but many employers prefer it.

Read this page to find details about several featured programs, what veterinary assistants do, how to prepare for this career and what to expect from an online program.

Featured Online Colleges for Veterinary Assistants

A degree or certificate isn't always required in order to become a veterinary assistant. However, it's often preferred. Formal training shows that veterinary assistants have worked hard and that they have experience working with animals.

For students thinking about beginning an online veterinary assisting program, here is a list of featured schools that offer this training.

California State University, East Bay

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,472
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
9
Accredited
School Type
4-year
The Princeton Review calls Cal State East Bay a "Best in the West" college. This fully online veterinary assistant program is part of the ed2go Career Training Center. Students generally have six months to complete this 170-hour program and earn certificates.

This Cal State program is taught by a practicing veterinarian who was one of the nation's first to teach a vet assistant program.

Accreditation:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities

Location:

25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., SF 102
Hayward, California 94542
Go to School Website 

Colby Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,100
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
5
Accredited
School Type
2-year
With several online veterinary programs, Colby Community College offers a fully online veterinary office assistant certificate. Classes include veterinary office and computer skills, medical terminology, animal breed identification, medical record keeping, veterinary drug dosages and the basics of animal agriculture.

Students also have access to Colby's 60-acre agricultural center. The center serves as a hands-on laboratory and training facility.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • American Veterinary Medical Association

Location:

1255 South Range
Colby, Kansas 67701
Go to School Website 

Pima Medical Institute

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
N/A
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
6
Accredited
School Type
4-year
The veterinary assisting certificate program at Pima Medical Institute can typically be completed in nine months. Graduates may work in private veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, animal shelters or labs.

This program is a hybrid program, so it is not fully online. It combines classroom and online courses. Pima Medical Institute's many locations make classroom training convenient. Veterinary assistant courses are available at 13 campuses in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

Location:

3350 E. Grant Road
Tucson, Arizona 85716
Go to School Website 

At a Glance: Veterinary Assistant Programs

The following chart shows 10 veterinary assistant programs at a glance. The following tuition and program length information is current as of April 2016. The program lengths specified are general estimates and may vary based on each student.

CollegeOffers Tuition Under $1,000Typical Program length

Animal Behavior College

 

As little as 50 weeks

Ashworth College

X

As little as four months

Blackstone Career Institute

 X

4-12 months

California State University East Bay

170 hours/6 months

Colby Community College

13 credit hours

Community Care College

 

As little as 10 months

Penn Foster Career School

 X

7 months

Pima Medical Institute

As little as 9 months

Stratford Career Institute

 

6 months-2 years

U.S. Career Institute

X

As little as 4 months

Interview with an Expert
Students have access to instructors pretty much 24/7.

Charlie Marks

Veterinary Assistant Department Head

Community Care College

Interview with an Expert
Charlie Marks

Charlie Marks

Veterinary Assistant Department Head

Community Care College

Q: What qualities make Community Care College's online veterinary assisting program outstanding?

A: It gives our students the knowledge they need to begin their careers and to work with doctors and technicians. During the 10-month program, students follow a curriculum that includes skill areas like working with small animals, anesthesia, animal restraint, etc. Even though it's an online program, students receive the hands-on training they need by working with mentors in veterinary offices or hospitals to follow that curriculum.

Q: What support does Community Care College offer its online student body?

A: First, students have access to instructors pretty much 24/7. Someone from the school is always available to help. We have career services to assist students in finding mentors for their online training, updating resumes and other job search skills. We want them to be successful.

Q: How does the online veterinary assisting program differ from the on-campus program?

A: The on-campus program has a set schedule, which goes Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for 24 weeks. At the end of the program, they have to do a 180-hour externship. The online program has no externship. Instead, students are doing their hands-on training throughout the program with mentors. Online courses are each four weeks long, and in each four-week course, a set of skills is emphasized. As part of their hands-on training, they work with mentors on those skills during those four weeks. Mentors are usually at veterinary offices in students' own communities, so the students often have good relationships with those offices already. We'll work with mentors to ensure they are committed for the 10-month program and are providing the skills those students need.

Online Veterinary Assistant Courses

Though veterinary assisting programs vary, students usually take classes with similar content. These classes cover basic animal care and treatment. They also instruct students in how veterinary clinics, hospitals and labs operate to provide the best possible care to animals. Programs vary in length and content, and courses may differ by name. The following subject matter is typically found in veterinary assisting programs.

Animal Handling and Restraint
Students learn how to approach, hold and physically restrain animals and how to use tools such as leashes and muzzles. They will understand which method or tool is right for each animal or treatment.

Animal Anatomy and Physiology
Students learn about the functions and locations of organs and systems in animals' bodies.

Small and/or Large Animal Nursing
Students learn how to nurse small animals, such as cats or birds, or large animals, such as horses. This may include caring for sick animals or grooming.

Examination/Hospital Room Procedures
This class shows students how to use and maintain exam rooms and equipment, as well as how to perform physical exams.

Radiology and Ultrasound
Students learn how to use x-ray or imaging equipment and how they help doctors diagnose patients.

Veterinary Pharmacy
Students learn about medications for pets, including dosages for particular animal species.

Veterinary Assistant Externship
Most programs, especially those offering the AVA, require students to do externships. Externships give students on-the-job experience at animal hospitals or veterinary clinics.

Veterinary assisting programs usually train students in emergency care and surgical treatments. Also, students usually receive training in office procedures and certain software. They usually learn about the laws and ethics involved in the treatment of animals. Programs also cover subjects such as animal nutrition and animal diseases. There may also be courses in special types of animals, such as exotic or lab animals.

Overall, veterinary assisting programs usually stress attention to detail and communication skills. Anyone interested in this career should also have good physical strength and be good with animals. Having empathy for animals and their owners is very important as well. 

Veterinary Assistant Career Outlook

Below is a description of the veterinary assistant career as well as some data on the outlook of the field. Here you see the average salary, the number of annual job openings and the typical entry-level education.

Veterinary Assistant
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$26,810
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
21,900
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
9
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent
Veterinary assistants provide routine care to animals in veterinary clinics, hospitals and labs. They work under the supervision of veterinarians, laboratory scientists or veterinary technicians. They perform important day-to-day tasks that help offices run smoothly and keep animals happy and healthy. Their work may include feeding, cleaning, or handling animals. These professionals also give emergency treatment, collect urine or blood samples, and administer medications to animals. Office work such as filing or making appointments is also a part of the job. Even after being hired, certified AVAs must take continuing education classes to keep their certifications. Those with formal training and AVA certifications may have better chances for employment.
Article Sources
  1. Animal Behavior College, Accessed April 2016, www.animalbehaviorcollege.com
  2. Ashworth College, Accessed April 2016, www.ashworthcollege.edu
  3. Blackstone Career Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.blackstone.edu
  4. California State University East Bay, Accessed April 2016, www.ce.csueastbay.edu
  5. Colby Community College, Accessed April 2016, www.colbycc.edu
  6. Community Care College, Accessed April 2016,  www.communitycarecollege.edu
  7. Cost of Attending Community Care College, Community Care College, Accessed April 2016,  http://college-tuition.startclass.com/l/5756/Community-Care-College
  8. Penn Foster Career School, Accessed April 2016, www.pennfoster.edu
  9. Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics, American Pet Products Association, Accessed April 2016, http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp
  10. Pima Medical Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.pmi.edu
  11. Stratford Career Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.scitraining.com
  12. U.S. Career Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.uscareerinstitute.edu
  13. Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition, Accessed April 2016, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-assistants-and-laboratory-animal-caretakers.htm
  14. Veterinary Technicians and Veterinary Assistants, American Veterinary Medical Association, Accessed April 2016, https://www.avma.org/public/YourVet/Pages/techs-and-assistants.aspx
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Article Sources