10 Top Online Programs for Veterinary Assisting & Technology


Veterinary technicians are sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as veterinary assistants, and indeed, their job often involves assisting veterinarians. Officially speaking, however, veterinary assistants do not require any specialized training, whereas veterinary technicians must have a formal education in the field and pass either a state or national exam demonstrating competency. This can make distinguishing among available programs somewhat difficult.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the need for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers is expected to increase at a rate of 19 percent by the year 2031, which is much faster than the average for all U.S. occupations (BLS 2022). Now is an ideal time for anyone considering a career as a veterinary technician to explore educational opportunities.

It can be difficult for anyone looking to further their education to find the necessary time to do so. With the advent of the internet, many more people that may not have physical access to training can pursue careers assisting veterinarians as veterinary technicians. The schools on this list offer online programs for veterinary assisting, both certification for veterinary assistants and degrees for veterinary technicians, to students nationwide.

Dallas College

Dallas College’s Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP) is offered in conjunction with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Dallas College (formerly Cedar Valley College) has had a veterinary technology program in place since 1978 and expanded to include online learning in 1998. The program includes online learning exercises that utilize text, video, and hands-on experience requirements at local animal hospitals.

Upon completing the DEVTP program, students graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree and qualify for the licensing exams required to pursue a career as a veterinary technician.

This online AAS degree program is made up of 60 to 61 credits and includes courses such as AN introduction to veterinary technology; veterinary office management; veterinary anatomy and physiology; canine and feline clinical management; veterinary pharmacology; equine clinical management; food animal clinical management; large animal assisting techniques; and anesthesia and surgical assistance.

Notably, Dallas College also offers a distance learning certificate program in small animal veterinary assisting. This 20-credit certificate includes courses such as veterinary parasitology; veterinary office management; introduction to veterinary technology; and canine and feline clinical management.

Dallas College had a 72 percent first-time VTNE pass rate among its graduates between 2019 and 2022.

  • Location: Dallas, TX
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (six semesters); certificate (two semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: Dallas county residents ($79 per credit); out-of-county residents ($135 per credit); out-of-state ($200 per credit)

San Juan College

San Juan College, located in Farmington, New Mexico, offers online learning programs for veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants. The veterinary technician program includes 76 to 80 credits of work and an associate of applied science (AAS) degree, which awards the student clearance to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The veterinary assistant certificate program only requires 32 to 36 credits, but graduates are not prepared for the VTNE.

The curriculum for the AAS degree program includes courses such as vet nursing care; small animal diseases; pharmacology & medical therapeutics; vet anesthesia & surgical assisting; vet diagnostic imaging; veterinary medical terminology; large animal diseases & medical care; and emergency and critical care medicine.

The veterinary assistant certificate program includes courses such as veterinary business procedures; vet diagnostic imaging; vet clinical pathology; vet anesthesia & surgical assisting; pharmacology & medical therapeutics; small animal diseases; and vet nursing care.

Between 2019 and 2022, 88.5 percent of the vet tech associate degree program graduates passed the VTNE on the first try.

  • Location: Farmington, NM
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (three semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: New Mexico residents ($56 per credit); non-New Mexico residents and international online students ($178 per credit)

Jefferson State Community College

At Jefferson State Community College, students can utilize online learning to complete an associate of applied science degree in veterinary technology. The program requires a total of 76 credits to complete, which does not include practical clinic experience at an approved clinic local to the student. Because the program does conclude in an AAS degree, there are general education requirements, including biology, math, and English courses.

The curriculum includes courses such as vet tech clinics; anatomy and physiology of mammals; vet tech emergency & first aid; clinical procedures & pathology; animal diseases & immunology; anesthesia & diagnostic imaging; animal pharmacology & toxicology; animal nutrition and laboratory animals; and vet tech large animal clinics.

The three-year, average, first-time pass rate for all students taking the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) needed to seek state licensure was 71 percent (2019-2022).

  • Location: Birmingham, AL
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($166 per credit); out-of-state ($291 per credit)

Northern Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia Community College offers a part-time online program for prospective veterinary technicians. The program takes, on average, five semesters over two years to complete. It is important to note that NVCC requires at least some on-campus attendance over the course of these two years, which means traveling to Loudon in northern Virginia. At the end of the program, students are awarded an associate of applied science degree. While previous college experience is not required for admission, those students who have completed their general education requirements are given priority.

Comprising 68 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to veterinary technology; animal breeds and behavior; animal diseases; anesthesia of domestic animals; animal dentistry; animal pharmacology; and animal hospital management and client relations.

The three-year, average, first-time pass rate for all students taking the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) was 71 percent (2019-2022).

  • Location: Sterling, VA
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Virginia resident ($180.40 per credit); out-of-state ($359.65 per credit)

Purdue University

One of the only universities offering an online program for veterinary nursing, Purdue University is certainly a great choice for those eligible students. The online program at Purdue results in an associate of applied science degree, whereas on-campus options include a bachelor’s degree program. The veterinary nursing distance learning program is an ideal place for students already employed by a veterinarian and have the capacity and discipline to continue that work while also attending classes part-time.

The program includes 27 online courses (46.5 credits) and 18 clinical mentorship experiences (18.5 credits). Clinical Mentorships are hands-on experiences that are completed in a veterinary facility. In addition to these courses, students must complete a college-level, three-credit English Composition course, and a two-credit elective. A total of 70 credits must be completed for this program.

The curriculum includes courses such as anatomy for veterinary technicians; physiology for veterinary technicians; clinical pathology for veterinary technicians; small animal nursing for veterinary technicians; principles of techniques and sterilization; large animal nursing and health management for veterinary technicians; dentistry for veterinary technicians; and understanding animal disease.

Purdue’s VNDL program has the highest three-year pass rate (92.1 percent) among comparable distance learning programs (2019 to 2022).

  • Location: West Lafayette, IN
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Three years
  • Estimated Tuition: $270 per credit

St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College is a public community college offering an associate of science degree in veterinary technology. The college also offers a bachelor’s degree in the same discipline and has demonstrated high graduation rates for both programs. The AS degree requires 73 credits of online trading in addition to a clinical externship. Online students in this AS program will be required to complete 280 hours of clinical experience in a veterinary facility during each semester enrolled in the program.

The curriculum includes courses such as animal anatomy; veterinary med terminology; small animal breeds and behavior; veterinary office procedures; animal nursing; animal physiology; large animal clinical & nursing skills; introduction to dental techniques; animal anesthesia; and avian and exotic pet medicine.

This associate degree prepares students for the national certification exam and transfers to the veterinary technology B.A.S. degree. Between 2019 and 2022, 79.3 percent of graduates passed the VTNE for the first time.

  • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AS (two years); BAS (four years)
  • Estimated Tuition: Florida residents ($111.75 per credit); out-of-state residents ($386.90 per credit)

California State University East Bay

California State University East Bay offers one of the very few online programs for veterinary assistants. At the end of a single course, students will earn a certificate that demonstrates their overall competence in working with animals, although it does not confer on them the right to sit for the veterinary technician licensing exam or to work as a veterinary technician. However, this can be a great stepping stone for those students who are still deciding if they want to commit to a more rigorous veterinary technology program.

The syllabus of this course includes topics such as physiology and anatomy; canine restraint file; feline and exotic restraint file; everyday procedures for the veterinary assistant file; workplace hazards and infection control file; vaccinology file; pain recognition and emergency care file; poisonings in pets file; and understanding animal behavior file.

  • Location: Hayward, CA
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six months
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,145

Penn Foster

In addition to the online vet tech program fully accredited through AVMA-CVTEA, Penn Foster has an online NAVTA-approved veterinary assistant program that can help graduates prepare for in-demand careers as veterinary assistants and explore careers in veterinary sciences. With flexible online courses, students can build their industry knowledge at their own pace and apply what they’ve learned at a hands-on externship.

Preparing students to sit for the approved veterinary assistant (AVA) exam, the curriculum of this program includes 10 courses. Coursework includes topics such as behavior, handling, and restraint; body systems and terminology; emergency and wound care; small and large animal nursing; radiology and surgical preparation; veterinary practice administration and procedures; and nutrition, history, and physical examination.

After completing coursework, students will be required to complete an eight-week externship to gain hands-on training. They may be able to secure their externship site at a veterinary practice near them, or through Penn Foster’s partnership with one of the largest veterinary hospitals in the country, including Banfield, VCA, and BluePearl.

  • Location: Online
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Seven to 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $799 – $1,099

Animal Behavior College

Animal Behavior College’s NAVTA-approved veterinary assistant school offers one of the very few online veterinary assistant programs that have been approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). Designed to prepare students for careers working with animals, this program teaches them everything from exam room preparation and surgical procedures to small animal healthcare. After successfully completing the prior stages of this program, graduates will be placed in a veterinary environment to complete their externship.

The curriculum for the program provides students with the skills and knowledge for becoming veterinary assistants. There are 11 stages that include an online veterinary assistant course, 47 educational videos, and an externship. Topics include office etiquette and hospital procedures; animal restraint; examination room procedures; pharmacy and pharmacology; surgical preparation and assisting; small animal nursing; and radiology and ultrasound imaging.

  • Location: Valencia, CA
  • Accreditation: NAVTA-approved
  • Expected Time to Completion: 52 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,999 to $5,630


VetMedTeam’s veterinary assistant program has been approved by the NAVTA for training assistants since its creation in 2001. Constantly updated and reviewed, this veterinary assistant program qualifies graduates to take the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation exam.

The program includes 12 online courses covering areas such as an overview of the veterinary profession; medical terminology; office procedures; anatomy and physiology; animal behavior and restraint; pharmacology; animal husbandry and nutrition; anesthesia and surgical assisting; animal care and nursing; and avian and exotics. In addition to these online courses, students will complete the hands-on portion of this program at a local practice, guided by the clinical mentor.

  • Location: Jackson, WY
  • Accreditation: NAVTA-approved
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $875


In selecting the top online programs for veterinary assisting in the U.S., it was necessary to consider a few different factors, including accreditation, graduation rates, and overall accessibility of the program.

  1. Accreditation: When evaluating any institution of higher learning, it is a good idea to grasp the college’s accreditation status. For this list, we looked at programs accredited by nationally recognized organizations in the field of veterinary technology, namely the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). To become accredited, institutions must apply, submit data about their program, and subject themselves to site visits from AVMA members.

    While AVMA accreditation does not ensure any outcome for students, it is a way to ensure that a veterinary technology program has been thoroughly evaluated for its completeness and adherence to veterinary standards.

  2. Graduation Rates: When an institution does not see that most of their initial applicants see the program through to completion, it sets students up for failure. This is why we have considered recent graduation rates when compiling this list.

  3. Clinical Components: Online learning has made education possible for more people than ever before and can greatly contribute to the veterinary assisting community. However, only some can truly be prepared for work assisting a veterinarian with setting foot in a clinic, which is why every program on this list also has a hands-on experience component.

Farheen Gani (Writer)

Farheen Gani is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).