Online Veterinary Technician Schools

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Not all aspiring veterinary technicians live close enough to a brick-and-mortar school to attend a campus-based veterinary technician training program. Even when an aspiring vet tech does live within commuting distance to an on-campus program, their jobs or lives may make them too busy to attend classes during the day at a set time or to attend a full-time program.

Online veterinary technician and assistant programs offer flexibility to aspiring vet techs who are either too busy or live too far away from a college campus to attend. By combining online coursework with hands-on and supervised clinical experience in a setting of the student’s choice, these programs ensure that graduates are ready to become a successful part of a veterinary medicine team.

Just like when looking into an on-campus program, it’s important that aspiring veterinary technicians knows that their program will train them in all the skills they need to successfully enter the workforce.

Since 2010, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAVTA) has created universal standards for high-quality veterinary technician training programs, including standards for online programs.

NAVTA-AVMA accredited vet tech programs meet predefined criteria for training standards, including preparing students to attain the number of supervised practicum hours to qualify for licensure in their state. While not required in every state, most states require that a veterinary technician pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) before entering into practice. Accredited programs generally include a component to prepare students to sit for this test.

So how do distance programs work? These convenient schools offer courses in a variety of formats:

  • Synchronous learning – In this format, happens at a set time, but students can log in from wherever they choose. Whether they are attending a “live” lecture, completing group work, or taking tests, this format’s main point of flexibility is around geography.
  • Asynchronous learning – In this format, students do their learning completely at their own pace. While there are deadlines for when a student needs to attend lectures or complete assignments, there is no “real-time” requirement. This format provides both geography- and time-based flexibility to learners.
  • Hybrid programs combine both types of online learning – In a hybrid program, didactic coursework (lectures) is usually asynchronous and can be completed at the student’s chosen pace. More hands-on learning (lab work, externships, etc.) must be scheduled. Sometimes, hybrid programs do require students to travel to campus once per semester or program for labs, tests, or short immersions.
Schools By State

 

Before detailing veterinary technician programs, it may be useful to explain the difference between a veterinary technician and a veterinary assistant. Going to the human medicine world provides a helpful metaphor. Both vet techs and vet assistants are nurses of the animal world, trained to provide assistance. What makes them different is the level of training and the resultant responsibility that comes from that training.

Vet assistants are like the licensed vocational or practical nurses (LVNs, LPNs) of the vet med world. They undergo relatively fast training (six months to one year) which qualifies them to assist veterinary technicians and perform technical support duties (setting appointments, billing, clipping animal nails, etc.).

Veterinary technicians are the nurses of the veterinary medicine world. They undergo longer training (two years) than assistants, so that they may learn what is necessary to assist veterinarians and provide direct animal patient care (diagnostic imaging, dentistry, anesthesia, etc).

Read on to discover how online vet tech programs work, what to expect from a distance-based program, lists of accredited online vet tech and assisting programs, and details of program accreditation.

 

Accredited Online Vet Tech Programs

Luckily for prospective veterinary technicians who require a measure of flexibility in their education, there are several accredited vet tech programs online. The main accrediting body—the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)—has provided a list of its approved offerings.

Some typical admissions requirements for these programs include:

  • High school transcripts with a competitive GPA
  • Access to a webcam-enabled computer with a fast internet connection
  • Experience working under a licensed veterinarian
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Various immunizations
  • SAT or ACT scores (generally optional)

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the ten AVMA-accredited vet tech programs as of August 2022, including associate of applied science (AAS) and associate of science (AS) degrees, offered through distance learning:

Purdue University

The Purdue University of Indiana provides a competitive vet tech program comprising 27 didactic courses and 18 clinical mentorship experiences to comprehensively overview the discipline. In addition to the veterinary technology distance learning (VTDL) courses, students must pass several general education or breadth requirements. With summer, spring, and fall start dates, Purdue has a wealth of support and resources to guide students through the program including an online writing lab, an academic success center, and many libraries.

Courses include diagnostic imaging for vet techs; pharmacy procedures; pharmacology; clinical pathology; anesthesia; small animal nursing for vet techs; laboratory animal health; large animal nursing & health management; parasitology for vet techs; and management topics for vet techs. Students complete 70 credits to earn their degree.

Between 2018 and 2021, an incredible 96.4 percent of Purdue’s distance-based program graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.

  • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC-NCA)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 36 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $270 per credit

Ashworth College

Ashworth College, based in Georgia, provides 270 hours of clinical experience for plenty of hands-on practice working with animals. With no scheduled start times, students may enroll anytime and complete the coursework at their own pace, with clinical hours included in each semester. Coursework in the program includes small animal husbandry and restraint; veterinary pharmacy and pharmacology; veterinary anatomy and physiology; diagnostic and therapeutic techniques; and veterinary practice management.

Faculty are industry leaders in their fields with extensive experience. Offering in-depth instruction, this is one of the most affordable online veterinary technician programs available. As of May 2022, Ashworth does not have VTNE pass rates available.

  • Location: Norcross, Georgia
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $99 per credit

Penn Foster College

Penn Foster College, based in Arizona, offers competitively priced programs at a cost of just $85 per credit, and zero percent interest payment plans are available. PFC has partnerships with some of the largest veterinary hospitals in the country—including VCA Animal Hospital, Banfield, and BluePearl—who recognize the quality of an AVMA-CVTEA fully accredited Veterinary Technician program.

The program consists of 73 credits including courses such as medical nursing for veterinary technicians; anatomy and physiology; medical mathematics; clinical pathology; clinical parasitology; and radiography for veterinary technicians. Between 2018 and 2021, 75.86 percent of Penn Foster’s vet tech graduates passed the VTNE on their first attempt.

Penn Foster also offers a bachelor of science degree in veterinary technology that is designed specifically for students who have already earned an AVMA-accredited associate degree.

  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $85 per credit

Dallas College

Dallas College (formerly Cedar Valley College), accredited by AVMA in 2001—had a 68 percent first-time VTNE pass rate among its graduates between 2018 and 2021. This school is distinguished by its scholarship opportunities earmarked specifically for its distance students. The college offers two associate degree programs: a traditional on-campus option and a distance education veterinary technology program (DEVTP).

Part of the curriculum is a ten-hour weekly minimum commitment in an approved veterinary clinic, as well as courses such as equine clinical management; veterinary pharmacology; veterinary parasitology; food animal clinical management; veterinary clinical pathology; veterinary radiology; anesthesia and surgical assistance; veterinary nursing care; and veterinary anatomy and physiology.

Finally, students are not required to travel to campus except to attend graduation if they choose. All practical skills are videotaped and then reviewed by a commission to ensure a student’s competency.

  • Location: Dallas, Texas
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Dallas County residents ($79 per credit); out-of-county residents ($135 per credit); out-of-state/out-of-country residents ($200 per credit)

Colby Community College

Colby Community College of Kansas offers an online associate of applied science (AAS) degree. This program does not require any campus visits but does offer various weekend mentorships in Colby to teach students about animals that may not be endemic to their areas (e.g., large animal mentorship, laboratory animal and exotic pet mentorship, microbiology mentorship).

This school also offers three convenient start times—January, June, or August—and enjoyed an 85 percent first-time VTNE pass-rate among its graduates between 2018 and 2021.

Comprising 82 credits, the program features coursework in basic nutrition of domestic animals; breeds of domestic animals; immunology; animal facility management & sanitation; hematology; laboratory animal & exotic pet medicine; clinical chemistry; veterinary parasitology; veterinary critical care and clinical skills.

  • Location: Colby, Kansas
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Full-time (four terms); part-time (eight terms)
  • Estimated Tuition: Thomas County ($136.25 per credit); Kansas rresident ($141.25 per credit); out-of-state ($195.25 per credit)

Jefferson State Community College

Jefferson State Community College of Birmingham, Alabama offers a distance-based vet tech program with minimal campus visits. Requiring at least 20 hours of work weekly for a licensed Alabama veterinarian in addition to online didactic coursework, Jefferson students are prepared to sit for the VTNE and Alabama State Boards exams to pursue licensure. Notably, 100 percent of students receive job offers after graduation and passing boards.

This school also offers abundant scholarship opportunities to its distance students to cover the costs associated with tuition, books, immunizations, uniforms, equipment, and other vet tech expenses. Jefferson State’s first-time VTNE pass rate between 2018 and 2021 was 66 percent.

The curriculum includes courses such as anatomy & physiology of mammals; clinical procedures & pathology; animal diseases & immunology; anesthesia & diagnostic imaging; animal pharmacology & toxicology; animal nutrition & lab animals; and vet tech large animal clinics. The program is made up of 76 credits.

  • Location: Birmingham, Alabama
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($166 per credit); out-of-state ($291 per credit)

Medaille College

Medaille College had a VTNE first time pass-rate of 83 percent between 2019 and 2022 for its Rochester AAS program, an 80 percent first-time pass rate for its Buffalo AS program between 2018 and 2021, and a 50 percent first-time pass rate for its online AAS program between 2018 and 2021. In-person clinical experiences are required for online students, and the online veterinary technology preparation course helps students obtain hands-on clinical experience.

Medaille College’s vet tech professors are all licensed veterinary professionals. The program prepares students to sit for the VTNE and satisfies all requirements to practice as a licensed vet tech in the state of New York.

Consisting of 72 credits, the program includes courses such as small animal emergency and critical care; veterinary dentistry; pain management in animals; farm animal restraint, diseases, and nutrition; surgical nursing and anesthesiology; and diagnostic imaging.

  • Location: Buffalo and Rochester; New York
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $971 per credit

North Virginia Community College

North Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) veterinary technology program is designed for those who wish to develop the latest skills and techniques that will prepare them for careers as vet techs and other related roles in diagnostic laboratories, animal hospitals, pharmaceutical or institutional animal colonies, research laboratories, and zoological parks. Students in this program can take courses online, on-campus, or a combination of both, no matter if a student chooses the full-time or part-time program.

The program typically requires only two or three Loudoun campus visits per semester. Designed with the working student in mind, coursework is offered through Canvas and Zoom and student success is evaluated through videotapes, product evaluation (e.g., lab work), and mentored task lists, among other tactics.

The curriculum includes courses such as animal breeds and behavior; animal diseases; clinical pathology; anesthesia of domestic animals; animal dentistry; animal pharmacology; and anatomy and physiology of domestic animals. The program comprises 68 credits.

  • Location: Annandale, Virginia
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 30 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Virginia resident ($180.40 per credit); out-of-state ($$359.65 per credit)

St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College (SPC) in Florida recently completed an $11 million innovative veterinary technology facility, only one of the amenities available to the on-campus and distance learning students when they come to town. The program has three start dates: August, January, and May. Online students must complete 280 hours of clinical experience in a veterinary facility during each semester enrolled in the program.

Between 2018 and 2021, 81 percent of graduates passed the VTNE for the first time. Furthermore, between 2012 and 2019, 93 percent of SPC AS degree graduates and 97 percent of BAS degree graduates found jobs in the field.

The 73-credit curriculum of the distance learning program includes courses such as animal anatomy; veterinary med terminology; small animal breeds and behavior; veterinary office procedures; animal nursing; animal physiology; animal anesthesia; large animal clinical & nursing skills; and animal pharmacology.

Credits from the associate of applied science (AAS) degree can be applied to earning a bachelor’s of applied science (BAS) in veterinary technology—an attractive option to students looking for increased responsibilities or leadership positions.

  • Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 36 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Florida residents ($111.75 per credit); out-of-state residents ($386.90 per credit)

San Juan College

San Juan College in New Mexico enjoyed an impressive 86.8 percent VTNE first-time pass rate among its graduates between 2018 and 2021. San Juan opens its program to applicants in nearly all states who can meet their off-campus clinical instruction (OCCI) and preceptor criteria. Although students aren’t required to travel to campus, they are offered the opportunity to complete “fast track labs” either at facilities near their homes or at a Waco, Texas lab.

The college’s AAS in veterinary technology program is made up of 76 to 80 credits involving courses such as small animal diseases; pharmacology & medical therapeutics; vet anesthesia & surgical assisting; vet diagnostic imaging; vet clinical pathology; veterinary medical terminology; emergency and critical care medicine; and vet anatomy & physiology.

San Juan College also offers a veterinary assistant certificate and a veterinary practice management certificate.

  • Location: Farmington, New Mexico
  • Accreditation: AVMA-CVTEA; The Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: New Mexico residents ($52 per credit); non-New Mexico residents ($164 per credit)

After completing these AVMA-accredited programs, some students pursue additional certification in specialized fields such as animal dentistry, anesthesia, or exotic animal care. The North American Veterinary Technician Association (NAVTA) offers academies for approved specializations.

 

NAVTA-Accredited Online Veterinary Assisting Programs

Although the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) does not currently have accreditation standards for online veterinary assisting programs, the National Association of Veterinary Technology in America (NAVTA) created a school approval process in 2010.

Additionally, NAVTA designates approved veterinary assistants (AVAs)—an individual, professional title that can be earned by passing a competitive examination. While this designation is not currently required for practice as a veterinary assistant, it can be an indicator to future employers that a candidate meets or exceeds established professional standards. Furthermore, this distinction may become more important in future years as the profession and rules continue to evolve.

These programs are generally open to working veterinary assistants looking to codify their skills. Other application requirements may include school transcripts, proof of immunizations, and access to a webcam-enabled computer with a fast internet connection.

Of the current NAVTA-approved veterinary assistance programs as of August 2022, there are four offered online:

Penn Foster College

Penn Foster College of Pennsylvania is nationally accredited with a NAVTA-approved Veterinary Assistant online program. Students in this veterinary assistant program will learn to prepare examination rooms, assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians with exams, perform basic animal handling and restraint, and assist with radiology and ultrasound imaging.

After completing the coursework, students will be required to complete an externship to get hands-on training. They may be able to secure their externship at a veterinary practice near them, or through the college’s partnership with one of the largest veterinary hospitals in the country, VCA Animal Hospitals. The externship is a minimum of 100 hours completed over an 8-week period.

The curriculum includes courses such as behavior, handling, and restraint; body systems and terminology; nutrition, history, and physical examination; small and large animal nursing; radiology and surgical preparation; and veterinary practice administration and procedures. Courses will prepare students to sit for the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) exam.

  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Accreditation: NAVTA approved; Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 to 17 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $59 per month

Animal Behavior College

The Animal Behavior College (ABC) in lovely Santa Clarita, California offers a veterinary assistant program that provides an easy-to-follow, 11-stage curriculum for its students. This program boasts a network of over 4,000 veterinary facilities and is open to residents of all American states and Canada. The program’s faculty includes program managers who are registered veterinary technicians (RVT) with years of personal on-the-job working experience in a veterinary facility.

The various faculties taught at ABC include animal restraint; radiology and ultrasound imaging; small animal nursing; pharmacy and pharmacology; office etiquette; and surgical preparation. After completing the prior stages of this program, students will be placed in a veterinary environment to complete their externship, during which they’ll be allowed to interact with professionals in the vet industry.

Upon completing this program, students will become Animal Behavior College-certified veterinary assistants (ABCVA). Their vet assistant certification demonstrates their knowledge in the veterinary field and shows employers that they have successfully completed this NAVTA-approved veterinary assistant program.

  • Location: Santa Clarita, California
  • Accreditation: NAVTA approved
  • Expected Time to Completion: 52 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,999 to $5,630

VetMedTeam

VetMedTeam’s online program is designed for working veterinary assistants under the guidance of student-chosen clinical mentors—credentialed technicians or veterinarians who are approved in advance by the school. This program offers rolling admissions so students can enroll at any time. VetMedTeam boasts a 100 percent pass rate for graduates who sit for the AVA. The program’s clinical on-site portion requires 100 hours of hands-on training at a full-service veterinary practice.

The program requires the completion of 12 online courses which include medical terminology; anatomy and physiology; pharmacology; animal behavior and restraint; animal husbandry and nutrition; animal care and nursing; anesthesia and surgical assisting; and radiology.

  • Location: Online
  • Accreditation: NAVTA approved
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months or less
  • Estimated Tuition: Contact VetMedTeam for a customized assessment

VetBloom

VetBloom (in partnership with MedCerts) offers a 26-week veterinary assistant training program that prepares students to sit for the AVA, including paying for the first exam attempt. Students will be taken through a five-module curriculum—one piece of which is an externship at a local veterinary hospital of the student’s choosing. After sitting for the AVA, MedCerts also offers resume and job placement services.

  • Location: Online
  • Accreditation: NAVTA approved
  • Expected Time to Completion: 26 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,000

 

Online Veterinary Program Accreditation

Before matriculating at any online veterinary technology or assistant program, it’s important to ensure that it has been accredited or approved by the appropriate agencies.

As mentioned above, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (AVMA-CVTEA) is the primary accrediting body for veterinary technology programs. Most states require aspiring vet techs to have graduated from an AVMA-accredited school before licensure, certification, or registration.

Furthermore, graduating from one of these programs is a prerequisite to sitting for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). AVMA employs rigorous criteria to evaluate programs including informational resources, physical facilities, finances, and student outcomes.

For veterinary assistant programs, the program approval process is relatively new, provided by the North American Veterinary Technician Association (NAVTA). The NAVTA guidelines are generally task-oriented and include meeting benchmarks for skills like clerical abilities, sterilization techniques, and examination room procedures.

NAVTA also identifies excellence in specialty training organizations through its Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties (CVTS). These specialty guidelines are more organizational in nature and consider how long the organization has been offering the specialization, the consistency of reporting, and the interest of the veterinary world in the specialty.

Jocelyn Blore (Chief Content Strategist)

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Jocelyn traveled the world for five years as an English teacher and freelance writer. After stints in England, Japan, and Brazil, she settled in San Francisco and worked as a managing editor for a tech company. When not writing about veterinary technology, nursing, engineering, and other career fields, she satirizes global politics and other absurdities at Blore’s Razor.