Outside of the requirements for their original credentials, most veterinary technicians (often referred to as vet techs) need to complete a specified number of continuing education hours to keep their credentials. All 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 which 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 (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 Tech Continuing Education
The IDEXX Learning Center offers hundreds of courses in companion animal diagnostics and related topics. 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 also offers a series of advanced courses called CE challenges as well as archived webinars, which are also RACE-approved and without charge.
North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine offers four categories of online courses: avian pathology, canine orthopedics, K9 down, and helping with animal loss. These courses are available to take at any time and can be purchased instantly. Students will receive a certificate, which is issued immediately upon completion of the course. The avian pathology course consists of several levels of coursework, each with a different price and period of accessibility. Members of the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) can take the courses at a discounted rate. The canine orthopedics series consists of six topics each costing $25 and offering one hour of North Carolina Continuing Veterinary Medical Education (CVME). The K9 down class includes basic and advanced courses as well as lab courses, which are taught on-site. The cost ranges from $300 to $550 with discounts for nonprofit and government agency students. The helping with animal loss program is RACE-approved and provides 2.5 hours of North Carolina CVME Credit. Cost is $50 for one month access.
The 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) and hosted by the World Continuing Education Alliance (WCEA).
Tufts University’s veterinary school offers two online courses: soft tissue surgery in small animal practice and nutrition for the small animal practitioner. The surgery course includes ten lectures, while the nutrition course consists of four. Each lecture within the course concludes with an exam and earns 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 ten continuing education credits. The cost is $489. 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 eight 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 four dozen mobile and on-demand RACE-approved classes in their clinical category. The courses are generally presented as one-hour video lectures and PowerPoint presentations, and students also have the opportunity to submit questions to the instructor. Courses are priced at $50 each, and each one counts as one hour of CE credit. In addition, VetBloom offers a monthly subscription with over 50 RACE-approved courses and a comprehensive technician protocol series comprising more than 70 individual records.
This subscription-based podcast and webinar service offers webinars that students can attend in real-time or watch later. The upcoming 2018 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 40 credit-hours without additional charge. Some courses are sponsored by Zoetis and are complimentary for all students. Tuition is usually $50.
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 length of each course. 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.