Online Veterinary Assistant Schools and Certification

Find NAVTA-approved programs, see what you’ll learn, and start your path towards certification.

Veterinary assistants perform the small but important tasks in animal medical care, from feeding and bathing animals to providing medications and stocking exam rooms. Those interested in pursuing this career are required to get formal training, and with the rising popularity of online education, many vet assistant schools have begun offering the majority of their curriculum online. However, because vet assistant programs are still relatively new to the world of online education, it’s important to find schools that meet specific quality standards. Keep reading to learn more about how and where to find quality online veterinary assistant schools, what coursework and clinicals are required, and the steps you’ll need to take to become certified as an Approved Veterinary Assistant.

2019’s Best Online Veterinary Assistant Schools

Animal lovers who want to train for veterinary assistant careers need to find a school that provides the quality education necessary to become certified and land a job after graduation. In order to help prospective vet assistants, find an online training program that meets their needs, we have created a list of the best schools around the country. After thoroughly evaluating programs, we found the following online veterinary assistant schools below offer the best educational value to students. All of these schools have been approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

Penn Foster College

Penn-Foster-College

Penn Foster College’s veterinary assistant program gives students the skills they need to work in an animal hospital of any size, while still providing the flexibility of an online education. In order to do this, Penn Foster allows students to customize their schedules to complete coursework at their own pace and access class materials through their computer or mobile devices. When students complete the program, they are qualified to perform the duties expected of veterinary assistants, such as preparing animals for surgical procedures, filing medical records, restraining nervous pets, and cleaning examination rooms and kennels.

After taking required classes online, students participate in hands-on training where they work under the supervision of a veterinarian to put the concepts they learned into practice. During this eight-week externship, students are required to work for at least 100 hours at a small animal clinic.

As of May 2019, the tuition at Penn Foster College is $859 if students pay for the program in one lump sum. The school also offers monthly payment plans, and the students who choose this option pay $929 total at $59 per month. Also, this military-friendly school gives veterans the opportunity to use their benefits to pay for their education if they qualify.

Animal Behavior College

Animal-Behavior-College

Animal Behavior College’s vet assistant program, which generally takes about a year to finish, allows online students to complete coursework at their own pace. The curriculum is divided into 11 stages, most of which are offered online. During the first nine stages, Animal Behavior College provides the foundation that students need to prepare for a vet assistant career by covering topics such as animal restraint, examination room procedures, surgical assisting, small animal nursing, and radiology. In addition, students learn the business of running an animal clinic by becoming familiar with medical records, inventory, and working effectively with other members of a veterinary team. Also, Animal Behavior College provides a module that instills career building skills, such as resume writing and interviewing.

After learning these concepts, students move on to the tenth stage of the program where they get the hands-on experience they need to gain a full understanding of what veterinary assistants do. During this externship, which can take up to 20 weeks to finish, students get training at one of the school’s 4,000 partner facilities for at least 100 hours. In the last stage of the program, students demonstrate their knowledge of the curriculum by taking a final exam.

In addition to these instruction modules, the school offers short-term programs that students can enroll in to learn about specialized topics. There programs, which are available to those who have completed at least nine stages of their vet assistant training, cover areas like pet fostering, dog walking, animal nutrition, and pet massage.

In Spring 2019, the tuition for Animal Behavior College’s veterinary assistant program was $2,999. The school also offers payment plans and allows military spouses to use government education benefits to help pay for their tuition.

VetBloom

VetBloom

VetBloom offers an online veterinary assistant program made up of five modules that can be completed in 26 weeks. Students are taught a variety of topics that professionals need to know, such as basic medical terminology, animal anatomy and physiology, diseases and their treatments, and nutrition. Also, students in this program learn skills such as animal grooming, performing medical calculations, and updating patient records, as well as the front desk skills like discharge procedures and phone etiquette.

After completing these five modules, VetBloom students are required to participate in a clinical externship for six weeks, where they work in a full-service animal clinic or hospital for a minimum of 120 hours. During this time, trainees get the opportunity to practice skills they learned throughout the program while observing the work of experienced professionals.

As of May 2019, VetBloom’s program costs $4,000, which includes the fee for taking the certification examination. The school offers payment plans and accepts employer tuition reimbursement payments. In addition, VetBloom accepts government benefits provided to military spouses.

How to Find Quality Online Veterinary Assistant Schools

All students are different in terms of their career goals and needs, so it’s important to find a veterinary assistant program that will help them achieve their specific professional aspirations. In order to achieve their goals, there are certain qualities that all students should consider when evaluating schools, including the following:

  • NAVTA Approval: 
    Future vet assistants should give preference to schools approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. While graduating from a NAVTA-approved program isn’t mandatory to be a vet assistant, approval certifies the program meets the high standards of training students need, as well as ensures that they are able to qualify to sit for the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification examination.
  • AVA Exam Preparation: 
    Veterinary assistants who want to become certified must first pass the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) exam, so training programs should offer a curriculum that prepares students to perform well on this test. Prospective students should look at the coursework that schools offer to verify that a program will deliver this preparation..
  • Affordability: 
    A program should position students to have a successful career, and not break the bank with exorbitant tuition and fees. Students should compare the costs of quality programs and consider what payment options are available to them.
  • Employer Connections: 
    Enrolling in a program is not only an opportunity to gain a foundation in the veterinary assisting field, it is also a chance for students to network with organizations that may hire them after graduation. As a result, students should look for programs that are well-connected with veterinary hospitals and clinics so they can get help meeting their externship requirement, as well as network with future employers. Also, in some cases, schools may offer career services to help students find a job after graduation.

Inside Look at Attending Vet Assistant School Online

People who are interested in enrolling in a vet assistant program may be concerned about how online schools will truly teach them everything they need to know, since there are certain skills that require hands-on practice. These programs are effective because there are some concepts that vet assistant students can be taught online, like animal physiology and anatomy. In addition, these programs require that students participate in externships, which gives them the chance to get the clinical training they need.

How long does a veterinary assistant program take to complete?

The exact time it takes to complete a veterinary assistant program depends on the specific school that students enroll in. However, people can generally expect to finish their studies in about a year and a half.

What are some common courses and program requirements?

The curriculum of a veterinary assistant program is carefully crafted to give students the theoretical knowledge they should have to work in the field, which is augmented by the hands-on training required to graduate. The goal of the coursework is to prepare students to earn their certification and to that end, programs may require that they complete the following classes.

Client-Relations

Client Relations
Veterinary assistants are required to not only be good with animals, but also their owners. This class teaches students how to effectively communicate with the customers of a veterinary practice in order to build long-term relationships with them. Topics covered may include how to console people who are grieving the loss of a pet, avoid compassion fatigue, and properly use nonverbal communication when talking to customers.

Animal-Anatomy-and-Physiology

Animal Anatomy and Physiology
Students in this course learn how the bodily systems of animals function, as well as the ways that veterinarians treat specific medical problems. The course covers the nervous system, hormones, skin, fur, and organs.

Medical-Records

Medical Records
In order to provide the best care, veterinary clinics must have accurate patient records. A large part of a veterinary assistant’s job is to maintain these records, so this class provides instruction on how to document all patient events completely and accurately. In addition, students may study basic medical calculations.

Veterinary-Business-Practices

Veterinary Business Practices
This class familiarizes future veterinary assistants with the nuts and bolts of how a veterinary practice is run, which can be useful for those who aspire to advanced managerial roles. The curriculum may cover pet health insurance, attracting and retaining clients, appointment scheduling, working as a team member, and inventory control.

Externship

Externship
An externship is required to give vet assistant students a chance to experience the realities of the job and see how the concepts they learned in class are practiced in a real clinical setting.

How Much Does Online Vet Assistant School Cost?

The cost of tuition and fees for a vet assistant program varies among schools. The following provides a glimpse at what some programs charge.

1 1. U.S. Career Institute, Veterinary Assistant Certificate $589
2 2. Blackstone Career Institute, Veterinary Assistant Certificate $1,214
3 3. Ashworth College, Veterinary Assisting Diploma $699

For more information on how to pay for vet assistant school, check out EduMed’s financial aid guide.

Steps to Earn Your Vet Assistant Certification Online

Finding the right veterinary assistant school is only the first of several steps to entering the field. The following outlines the path that people must take to earn the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification.

Step #1 – Enroll in vet assistant program approved by NAVTA

Enrolling in a program approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) ensures that students are prepared for the challenges of a vet assisting career and can meet the expectations employers have of them.

Step #2 – Complete standard online coursework

Online courses in vet assistant programs lay the foundation students need to be successful in their careers. From communicating with pet owners and other staff to cleaning examination rooms to restraining animals, people in these programs gain a variety of skills so they can keep up with the daily rigors of the job.

Step #3 – Complete on-site externship

Externships are the part of vet assistant programs that reinforce the coursework students completed. Under the supervision of current veterinary professionals, students are able to put their knowledge to the test with real patients and hone their skills.

Step #4 – Sign up for and pass the AVA exam

After completing their clinical work, people must pass the AVA examination. This 100-question exam, which is developed by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America and administered on the VetMedTeam website, takes 150 minutes to complete.

Step #5 – Renew certification every two years

To ensure that AVA professionals keep their skills and knowledge current, they are required to renew their certification after two years. In order to do this, vet assistants complete ten continuing education credits and pay a $10 fee.

Salary Outlook and Career Growth for Veterinary Assistants

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that vet assistant positions will grow by 19 percent between 2016 and 2026. This means that in the coming years, there will be 16,300 new jobs created for these professionals, driven by the fact that there has been an overall increase in pet-related spending among consumers.

People who enter this field can expect to make a median income of $27,540 per year, according to BLS. In addition, the top earners in these positions make above $38,890 annually, while the lowest 10 percent of workers make under $19,950.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Further Research

Future vet assistants get intensive training when they enroll in a program, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take advantage of additional information that will help them deepen their understanding of the field. The following are five resources that veterinary assistant students can use to enhance their classroom instruction.

A Day in the Life of a Veterinary Assistant

This video from Carrington College provides a look at the daily work of a vet assistant.

Approved Veterinary Assistant FAQs

This page provides information on the Approved Veterinary Assistant certification that is required to obtain employment after students complete their training programs.

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America

The NAVTA represents the interests of veterinary assistants and technicians, providing resources such as industry journals, access to continuing education courses, and advice on coping with job-related stress. In addition, the organization offers scholarships for those studying to enter the field, as well as discounts for insurance and resources professionals use.  

Veterinary Practice News

This publication keeps professionals in the veterinary field abreast of the latest industry news, such as new products, trends, and practice advances. It also includes information about the treatment of small animals like cats and dogs, larger animals like horses and cows, and less common pets, including ducks and rabbits.