7 Great Southern California Vet Tech Schools


Animal lovers rejoice; vet tech jobs are one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that veterinary tech and technologist careers will grow by 21 percent nationwide from 2022 to 2032—a rate much faster than the 3 percent national average for all occupations (BLS 2023). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that 25,200 new vet tech positions will open up nationally in those ten years.

With most vet tech positions requiring a two-year associate’s degree and a credentialing exam in most states, high school graduates interested in working with animals can begin a career by attending a vet tech school. California is the second-highest employer of vet techs and technologists, employing 10,160 people who earn an average annual salary of $49,960 (BLS May 2022).

Programs across the country train students for vet tech careers, and in California, where the BLS projects vet tech job growth to be 22 percent (Projections Central 2020-2030), there are many accredited programs to choose from.

The vet tech schools featured on this list are all accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Not only does AVMA program accreditation ensure students that these programs meet the highest educational standards, but graduating from an AVMA-accredited program also enables students to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB).

It is worth noting that California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has three qualifying educational and career pathways to become eligible to take the registered veterinary technician (RVT) exam, including graduating from an AVMA-accredited program.

In addition to high-quality curriculum and instruction, many of these programs provide hands-on experiences through externships, rotations, or practicums to prepare future vet techs for working with animals in a clinical setting. So without further ado, here is a list of seven exceptional Southern California vet tech programs offering students animal care training and education.

Los Angeles Pierce College
Address : Woodland Hills, CA

Los Angeles Pierce College is located on 427 acres of land in Woodland Hills, California, and maintains herds of cattle, sheep, and swine. Its AVMA-accredited vet tech program leads to an associate degree. Still, students can seek more training in the field by transferring to Cal Poly Pomona to work on a bachelor of science (BS) degree in animal science.

Pierce College has offered its vet tech program since 1972 and utilizes an experience-oriented approach. Upon completion of the program, students are prepared to take the state board examination to become registered veterinary technicians (RVT). As another point of interest, Pierce College also offers an associate degree in pre-veterinary science.

Pima Medical Institute
Address : Chula Vista, CA

Pima Medical Institute-Chula Vista allows students to complete an AVMA-accredited associate degree in veterinary technology in 18 months. The Chula Vista campus, open since 1997, promotes learning through experience and will enable students to gain hands-on skills in equine medicine, exotic animals, laboratory procedures, livestock animals, and nursing.

The program is comprehensive, with classes in dentistry, diagnostic imaging, lab animal science, pharmacology, and surgical nursing, and concludes with a final externship experience. When done, students should be prepared to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).

Platt College
Address : Alhambra, CA

Platt College-Alhambra provides an associate degree in veterinary technology, which is extensive. In their first year, students take clinical pathology, veterinary economics, and parasitology classes, and follow these up with second-year courses such as anesthesia, animal nutrition, and surgical assistance.

The program is completed with hands-on experience in a clinical externship and is fully accredited by the AVMA. Platt College also has accredited AVMA programs at its Ontario, Anaheim, and Riverside campuses.

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
Address : Pomona, CA

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona—a 1,500-acre campus—offers a bachelor's degree in animal health science that should allow students to pass both the California State Board Registered Veterinary Technician examination and the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This enables graduates to work in the veterinary technology profession.

In this program, students can emphasize business or science and gain hands-on skills working with small and farm animals. Four distinctive externships are required, including two clinical externships and two animal health science externships. In addition, the Huntly College of Agriculture hosts an annual open house event for prospective students and academic advisors. Also, the Alumni Center allows prospective students to learn more about current events and job postings.

Carrington College California-Ontario
Address : ONTARIO, CA

Carrington College California-Ontario campus provides an associate degree in vet technology that uses a skills-based approach. Classroom theory, hands-on experience, and practical instruction combine for the learning component. In addition, an externship in an animal care facility in or near Pomona adds to student learning.

While students take science classes focused on anatomy, biology, and physiology as part of their coursework, they should understand they are not enrolled in a pre-veterinary program. The associate degree program is accredited through the AVMA, and students can complete their associate’s degree and prepare for the Veterinary Technician National Exam in as few as 21 months.

In addition to the Ontario campus in Southern California, Carrington College also offers the vet technology associate’s degree program at six other campuses outside of Southern California in Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, and Stockton.

San Joaquin Valley College
Address : Fresno, CA

San Joaquin Valley College, a private junior college founded in 1977, introduces students to animal nursing fundamentals, diagnostic imaging, laboratory procedures, and veterinary office practices. In addition, externship rotations help round out the students' experiences in animal care environments and give them first-hand learning and insight into their chosen profession.

Like many vet tech programs, the one at San Joaquin leads to an associate degree but can be completed in 16 months. The program is fully-accredited through the AVMA, and students can earn a certificate of completion in nine months (or more). Prospective students can learn about the college by reading about success stories from current students on the San Joaquin Valley College blog.

Mount San Antonio College
Address : Walnut, CA

Mount San Antonio College, known as Mt. SAC, is located in Walnut, California, and offers an associate of science (AS) degree in registered veterinary technology. The program features a variety of guided pathways for specialization, including animal science fundamentals, horse range management, livestock production, and pet science. In addition, the vet tech program curriculum includes courses such as animal breeding, clinical pathology, surgical nursing, and veterinary radiography.

Students can also select work experiences in aviculture, canine, and pet shop management. The school has been AVMA-accredited since 1977. Students can complete this program in two years or transfer coursework to Cal Poly Pomona or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and other four-year universities.

Methodology: Top Southern California Vet Tech Schools

The veterinary technician programs on this list were selected according to the following methodology:

  • Accreditation – All programs hold active accreditation from the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Accreditation (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
  • Unique coursework and hands-on experiences – These programs boast one-of-a-kind facilities, externship opportunities, and other rigorous practical experiences which prepare students for a career in veterinary technology.
  • Exceptional faculty – Professors in these programs have demonstrated their leadership through maintaining veterinary practices, holding committee positions, and publishing in scholarly journals, among other indicators of professional experience.
Rachel Drummond, MEd (Writer)

Rachel is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. A dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Rachel is interested in exploring the nuanced philosophical aspects of contemplative physical practices and how they apply in daily life. She writes about this topic among others on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).