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Online Colleges for Veterinary Assistants

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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 10 featured schools that offer this training.

Animal Behavior College

Animal Behavior College offers training for careers working with animals. The school’s veterinary assisting program is one of only three online programs approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) to offer the AVA certification. Each student is assigned a program manager who is a registered veterinary technician.

While this program is offered online, students also gain hands-on experience. The school has relationships with over 3,000 veterinary clinics nationwide that offer student externships.

Accreditation:

  • None

Location:

25104 Rye Canyon Loop
Santa Clarita, California 91355
Go to School Website 

Ashworth College

Students in this veterinary assistant program can generally earn career diplomas online in as little as four months. Along with online courses, students take field trips for real-world learning. Students also arrange their own externships at area vet clinics. The program is aimed at meeting NAVTA standards. Graduates receive a one-year membership in NAVTA.

Ashworth College's program has been revised and offers the most current information in the field.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Location:

6625 The Corners Parkway, Suite 500
Norcross, Georgia 30092
Go to School Website 

Blackstone Career Institute

Students in Blackstone Career Institute's online veterinary assistant training program learn about the behavior, care and treatment of animals. The program can typically be completed in four to 12 months.

Encouraging well-rounded students, Blackstone's program includes courses in success skills, communication, critical thinking, and time and stress management. To make this training more affordable, Blackstone offers three payment plans.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools

Location:

1011 Brookside Rd., Suite 300
Allentown, Pennsylvania 18106
Go to School Website 

California State University, East Bay

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

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 

Community Care College

Community Care College offers both an on-ground and fully online veterinary assisting program. The online program can usually be completed in 10 months and ends in a career diploma. It includes training in both small and large animals, from cats to horses, as well as exotic and aquatic animals. Both the on-ground and online programs include hands-on training with veterinary professionals.

Community Care College went from for-profit to nonprofit status in 2015 as part of its goal to put students ahead of profits. Several in-house scholarships are available to students, as well as federal financial aid.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Location:

4242 S. Sheridan Road
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74145
Go to School Website 

Penn Foster Career School

Penn Foster's online veterinary assisting program is one of only three that are approved by NAVTA. This career diploma program can generally be completed in just seven months. Graduates are eligible to take the AVA exam.

Penn Foster offers plenty of academic and peer support to online students. Content is relevant, current and can be delivered to any mobile device. The school's pay-as-you-go model may be appealing to students on tight budgets.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • International Association for Continuing Education and Training

Location:

925 Oak St.
Scranton, Pennsylvania 18515
Go to School Website 

Pima Medical Institute

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 

Stratford Career Institute

In this distance-learning veterinary assistant program, students learn how to care for large and small animals, as well as exotics and wild animals. Students also will study human relations for vet assistants.

The program can generally be completed in six months to two years. It ends with a career diploma. Students may find Stratford's program affordable, with an all-inclusive tuition fee and customized payment plans available.

Accreditation:

  • None

Location:

1 Champlain Commons, Unit 3, P.O. Box 1560
Saint Albans, Vermont 05478
Go to School Website 

U.S. Career Institute

U.S. Career Institute's veterinary assistant course is fully online. Students may use hard copy or electronic textbooks. Students will learn proper animal handling skills, medical terminology, sanitation, animal handling, animal medications, animal first aid, x-rays and surgical procedures. Graduates earn service certificates.

This program can usually be completed in four months. U.S. Career Institute also offers a Success Promise program that provides six weeks' of job search training. It guarantees full tuition refunds to students who aren't employed in their fields within six months.

Accreditation:

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Location:

2001 Lowe St.
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525
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

Want to see additional online colleges for veterinary assistants?
Search our school directory to find the right program for you.

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 2015 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$25,940
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
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, 2015
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.

Sources

  1. Animal Behavior College, Accessed April 2016, www.animalbehaviorcollege.com
  2. Ashworth College, Accessed April 2016, www.ashworthcollege.edu
  1. Blackstone Career Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.blackstone.edu
  2. California State University East Bay, Accessed April 2016, www.ce.csueastbay.edu
  3. Colby Community College, Accessed April 2016, www.colbycc.edu
  4. Community Care College, Accessed April 2016,  www.communitycarecollege.edu
  5. Cost of Attending Community Care College, Community Care College, Accessed April 2016,  http://college-tuition.startclass.com/l/5756/Community-Care-College
  6. Penn Foster Career School, Accessed April 2016, www.pennfoster.edu
  7. Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics, American Pet Products Association, Accessed April 2016, http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp
  8. Pima Medical Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.pmi.edu
  9. Stratford Career Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.scitraining.com
  10. U.S. Career Institute, Accessed April 2016, www.uscareerinstitute.edu
  11. 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
  12. Veterinary Technicians and Veterinary Assistants, American Veterinary Medical Association, Accessed April 2016, https://www.avma.org/public/YourVet/Pages/techs-and-assistants.aspx