Veterinary technicians are dedicated, caring people who partner with veterinarians to heal animals in the same way that nurses partner with doctors to heal people. Vet techs are formally trained to provide the testing, vet assistance, administrative, and patient-facing services that allow for veterinarians to focus on using their specialized training in diagnostics, treatment planning, and surgery. While there are many ways to become a vet tech, one of the most common is to enroll in a two year accredited veterinary technician training program at a community college.
When a Vet Tech program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA’s) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) it is a symbol of quality education proven to prepare vet techs for work. In addition, accredited programs qualify graduates to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)—the national vet tech credentialing exam. While not all states require formal education or the VTNE, California is a state that requires both. To become a registered vet tech in the state of California, vet techs must complete an educational curriculum and achieve a passing score on the VTNE.
Accredited vet tech programs that prepare students to get their vet tech licenses are available both online and all over the United States. However, it’s often the case that prospective vet techs want to find something close to home – or something in a specific and exciting new region. Northern California is home to San Francisco, the Muir Woods, Yosemite, hundreds of miles of oceanic coastlines, and more. For those wishing to experience all that Northern California has to offer while training to enter the veterinary field as a tech, this list offers seven high-quality and accredited options from the region.
Foothill College, located in the Silicon Valley city of Los Altos Hills, offers a two-year associate of science (AS) in veterinary technology. For those looking to land near San Francisco, Foothill offers the only AVMA accredited program in the entire San Francisco Bay Area.
The mission of the program at Foothill is to empower future vet techs to become a part of the veterinary community in a way that is progressive and compassionate. The primary goals of the program are to offer high-quality coursework, graduate adaptive employees, and promote the vet tech profession. This program also has a secondary goal of preparing students to transfer to a four-year institution, if desired.
Taking place in a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service licensed animal facility, coursework in the program includes animal care skills, medical calculations for veterinary nurses, large animal skills lab, and a clinical internship. In between 2017 and 2020, 94 percent of graduates taking the VTNE for the first time passed.
Carrington College has seven locations in California, and Carrington College at Citrus Heights is one of the top campuses in Northern California offering a veterinary technology program. In as few as 19 months, students enrolled at Carrington Citrus Heights can earn an associate of science (AS) in veterinary technology and be prepared to sit for the VTNE.
The Carrington program is focused on a balance theory and practical, hands-on instruction where students will take coursework in animal anatomy and physiology, biology, and chemistry. While the main emphasis at Carrington Citrus Heights is companion animals, students will also have the opportunity to learn about large animal medicine, research, and topics related to the industry.
Students who graduate from the program will have the entry-level skills needed to work in veterinary clinics and hospitals, rescue leagues, and in college or university settings. The VTNE first-time pass rate for graduates of Carrington Citrus Heights between 2017 and 2020 was 78 percent.
Cosumnes River College (CRC) in Sacramento California is an AVMA accredited vet tech program that awards an associate of science in veterinary technology. The program at CRC is rigorous and hands-on, and requires students to complete prerequisite courses in biology and chemistry with a grade of “C” or better prior to enrollment.
Vet techs at CRC will be trained in animal behavior, restrain, nutrition, and nursing, and span disciplines including emergency, dental, surgical assistance, lab work, and anesthesia. Students must complete 300 hours of internship or work experience to graduate.
Coursework in CRC’s program includes an introduction to animals and caged birds, animal disease pathology, dentistry for the veterinary technician, and large animal nursing. 94 percent of CRC graduates who sat for the VTNE for the first time between 2017 and 2020 passed.
One of the seven Carrington College locations in California, Carrington College in San Leandro offers vet tech the same balance of hands and theoretical learning offered by each member of the Carrington College network. Graduates of this program and all Carrington College programs graduate with an associate of science in veterinary technology and the basic skills needed to begin work.
Carrington College in San Leandro graduates are ready to perform administrative, clinical, nursing, and surgical procedures in the veterinary setting of their choice. In addition, graduates are prepared for critical thinking, team work, clear communication, and professionalism.
Graduates of Carrington San Leandro will be instilled with Carrington’s mission of providing the veterinary world with ethical graduates committed to lifelong learning. First-time pass rates on the VTNE for Carrington San Leandro graduates between 2017 and 2020 was 64 percent.
At the Fresno campus of San Joaquin Valley College in Northern California, students can earn an associate of science in veterinary technology in as few as 18 months. Students enrolled at SJVC Fresno will learn how to become reliable assistants to veterinarians through coursework and hands-on training that includes rotating externships.
Students in the program will learn how to work with pet medications, implement treatment plans, support surgeries, perform dental procedures, perform lab work, perform diagnostic imaging, provide emergency care evaluations, and practice proper interpersonal, communication, and professional skills.
The first-time pass rate for graduates of SJVC Fresno between 2017 and 2020 was 30.43 percent.
Yuba College in Marysville, California is a hybrid online and in-person program that offers a direct pathway to becoming a Registered Veterinary Technician. The mission of the Yuba College vet tech program is to provide students with the needed education to get to work right away in order to meet the rising need for vet techs in the workplace. The program is best suited to those who enjoy diverse clients, enjoy animals, are interested in working in science and medicine, and self-directed and organized. Students enrolled in this program also have the opportunity to work with large animals on campus.
Courses in the Yuba College program include veterinary business management, veterinary surgical nursing and anesthesia, veterinary diagnostic imaging, and shelter medicine. Yuba College graduates who sat for the VTNE for the first time between 2017 and 2020 passed at a rate of 56 percent.
The veterinary assistant program at California State University, East Bay is a stepping stone program to becoming a vet tech. For those that aren’t sure about becoming a vet tech, or for those who need to take their education slowly due to time or monetary constraints, a vet assistant program can be the most appropriate way to get started.
The Cal State East Bay vet assistant program is fully online, comprises only one course, and takes anywhere from six to 12 months to complete. The course is self-paced, which means those who have time constraints can move forward at a pace that fits their unique schedule.
Topics in the course include animal restraint techniques, workplace hazards and infection control, animal nutrition, and how to conduct a physical examination. Because this is not a veterinary technician program, it does not prepare graduates to sit for the VTNE.