Outside of the requirements for their original credentials, most veterinary technicians need to complete a specified number of continuing education hours to keep their credentials. Most states (except for five and the District of Columbia) require continuing education credits with every license renewal, but the number of credits varies between states.
For example, both Iowa and Washington require 30 hours of continuing education every three years, while Arkansas requires six hours annually. Florida will not renew credentials unless the vet tech has completed 15 hours of continuing education every year, and Kentucky asks for six hours for their biannual renewals.
It is important that students enroll in programs that have received the proper accreditation. The Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) is a program offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) that ensures uniform standards across veterinary medicine continuing education providers and programs. The RACE program reviews and approves programs but does not “accredit” them. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) gives accreditation to providers of continuing education programs for animal technicians.
Most state regulatory boards accept RACE-approved and CVTEA-accredited continuing education credits. However, continuing education acceptance is not standardized. States reserve the right to refuse credits from certain classes or providers. Students are advised to confirm that their state will accept credits before registering for any program.
Providers of Online Vet Techs Continuing Education
The IDEXX Learning Center offers more than a dozen courses in an online webinar format. The courses are all available online and in English or Spanish. Although each course indicates a fee, the RACE-approved courses are currently complimentary. Students receive one credit per hour of coursework.
IDEXX offers a series of courses ranging from “What’s New with Old Retroviruses? Feline Retrovirus Update” and “The Heat Is On: An Introduction to Catalyst Progesterone” taught by leading veterinary professionals.
North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine ranks as one of the top veterinary educational programs in North America and currently offers two online continuing education courses: avian pathology and K9 down.
The avian pathology course consists of several levels of coursework, each with a different price and period of accessibility. These courses are available to take at any time and can be purchased instantly ranging from $150 to $1,200. Members of the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) can take the courses at a discounted rate.
The K9 down series is a highly-specialized program for professional dog handlers and emergency response personnel such as police officers and search and rescue teams. This hybrid course includes an extensive list of online lecture topics combined with an in-person skills laboratory. The cost ranges from $300 to $550 with discounts for nonprofit and government agency students. Additional RACE-approved courses are offered throughout the year.
Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine offers four categories of online continuing education courses: all species, small and exotic animals, food and large animals, and industry veterinarians. Each category includes more than a dozen subjects, each costing $40 for each credit-hour earned. The College of Veterinary Medicine is CVTEA-accredited, and the courses are offered through the World Veterinary Association (WVA).
Tufts University’s veterinary school offers four online courses: dentistry, exotic animal emergencies, nutrition for the small animal practitioner, and soft tissue surgery in small animal practice.
The surgery course includes ten lectures while the dentistry and exotics courses include six hours of instruction. The nutrition course is worth four CE credit-hours. The surgery courses can be taken one at a time or all at once and each lecture within the course concludes with an exam and awards one hour of CVME credit.
The surgery course costs $39 per session or $259 for all ten sessions, and the nutrition course costs $125. The vet school also offers on-site courses in clinical dentistry and neurology, as well as “intensive learning experience” courses that combine online coursework with a hands-on lab.
The clinical dentistry program is available as an intensive course that will earn students up to six continuing education credits. The cost is $189. The on-site neurology program is taught in Grafton, Massachusetts costs $209, and earns students 6.5 credits.
The Veterinary Support Personnel Network (VSPN) offers eleven online courses—all of which are RACE-approved. Each course is self-paced and there is no interaction between the student and instructor. Tuition and continuing education credits vary according to the course material.
Fees range from $21 for a one-credit course to $126 for a six-credit course. Students must be a member of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) or VSPN to enroll. VSPN membership is free for veterinary support staff working in the field of veterinary medicine under the direction of a licensed veterinarian.
VetBloom offers almost nearly 100 mobile and on-demand RACE-approved courses in their clinical category. The courses are presented as one-hour video lectures and PowerPoint presentations, but students do have the opportunity to submit questions to the instructor. Some courses are complementary and others are priced at $55. Each course counts as one hour of continuing education credit.
This subscription-based podcast and webinar service offers webinars that students can attend in real-time or watch later. The upcoming 2020 webinars are posted on the website. Nearly all of the webinars are RACE-approved, and those that are not are pending approval.
Continuing education credit varies from 0.5 to 2.0 per hour, depending on the course. Elite VETgirl members receive 100 credit-hours and membership is $249 per year. Some courses are sponsored by vendors such as Vetrix and are free for all students.
The VetMedTeam course catalog offers nearly two dozen online courses for vet techs. The courses are RACE-approved and students receive continuing education credit-hours based on the duration.
Enrollment and start times are on-demand, allowing students to take a course at a time that fits their schedule. Once a course is started, students are expected to meet the deadline for each lesson. Most courses require an exam to earn a certificate of completion. Students are responsible for purchasing the required textbooks at their own expense. Courses vary in length of time to complete and price and students who enroll in three or more courses at the same time are eligible for a 10 percent discount. VetMedTeam also offers some free RACE- and VHMA-approved courses.
The Pet Poison Helpline offers free continuing education credits for vet techs through a series of live and previously recorded webinars. Featuring specialized courses in toxicology, most courses are worth one hour of continuing education credit and approved by RACE and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
Additional webinar course categories include business, self-care, and zoonoses and participants can find a course that works for them by searching for a particular date or featured speaker. Webinars are typically offered from 12:00 to 1:00 PM (CT) and presentation slides are made available to pre-registered participants. Certificates of completion are mailed within 24 hours to those who take the post-test and pass it with a score of 70 percent of higher.
Known as the leading professional and accreditation organization for veterinary professionals, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers free distance learning opportunities and seminars for its members. Members receive a complimentary AAHA Learning subscription in their benefits package, which includes more than 50 hours of non-sponsored RACE-approved technical continuing education courses for veterinary techs.
Through an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly interface, AAHA members can keep track of their learning through their online account. AAHA members have the option to subscribe to 200 additional courses for $6 per month, which gains them access to virtual simulations, podcasts, and webinars on a variety of veterinary topics. Membership also includes discounts on certification courses such as animal hospice and palliative care certification (six CE hours) and a diabetes educator certificate (four CE hours). AAHA membership is free for current vet tech students and $95 a year for credentialed vet techs.
Vet techs working with larger animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, camels, and pigs benefit from the relevant wealth of continuing education courses offered by Large Animal Consulting & Education.
Each CE course provides one hour of RACE-approved continuing education for vets and vet techs. Courses are divided into three categories: camelids, cattle, and sheep and goats. Most courses cost $35 and content ranges from neonatal care of lambs and kids to small ruminant vasectomy (free). Large Animal Consulting & Education features the work of practicing large animal veterinary and faculty member Dr. Meredyth Jones—an award-winning educator in the field of veterinary techniques.