Veterinary Assistant Schools

Why Attend Veterinary Assistant School?

So, you’ve done a your research about being a veterinary assistant and ready to take the next step. In your research, you should have discovered that there is no education or licensing requirements for applying to vet assistant jobs. Many vet assistants, at least in the past have learned all their skills on the job. Do you really need to attend veterinary assistant school then if everything can be taught on the job? If this was few years ago, you probably wouldn’t have needed to, but now lots of candidates applying for vet assistant jobs all have some sort of training whether from a previous job or from some vet assistant school. To improve your chances of getting hired as a vet assistant, it is advised that you receive some sort of training. Many of the schools have relationships with local animal hospitals and can help graduates get jobs. Candidates that know very little about animal care might also benefit from taking some sort of course in veterinary assisting to make their jobs a little easier. People that intend to become a vet technician later in their career can sometimes transfer credits from some of the veterinary assistant schools, saving time and also gaining some practical experience in animal care.

What Can You Learn in Veterinary Assistant College?

Most the schools should train you on all the different aspects of being a vet assistant from client care to surgery. Some example courses or topics that will be covered:

  • How to work with clients and pets
    • How to discharge them and admit them
  • Introduction to Veterinary Terminology
  • Skeletal and Muscular Systems.
  • Digestive, Reproductive, and Urinary Systems
  • Emergency Care
  • Small and Large Animal Nursing
  • Equine and Large Animal Medicine
  • How to handle medical records
  • Safety measures and precautions
  • Animals restraint
    • Ropes and knots for restraining pets
    • Physical and psychological restraint techniques
    • Proper placement and removal from cages
    • How to restrain pets during producers and injections
    • How to open the mouth of animals
    • Proper positioning protocols for different animals

Many of the popular veterinary assistant schools are taught either online with video and textbooks with real teachers that will grade your homework/tests and give you feedback. We advise students to attend a program that also require students to attend internships at local hospitals because it will be easier for you to absorb the information and will also look great on the resume when you eventually apply for a vet assistant job.

Length of attending veterinary assistant school will vary dependent on many factors. Most online only courses are self paced and have no time limit, while some require students to complete the program within a certain time frame. From some of the popular veterinary assistant schools:

  • Animal Behavior College – 216 days
  • Penn Foster – 4 month
  • Ashworth – less than 6 month
  • Gatlin Education – less than 6 month
  • PMI – 9 month
  • Ed2go – 6 weeks.

Accreditation for Veterinary Assistant Schools

There are no accredited veterinary assistant schools available in the US, but there are NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America) approved veterinary assistant programs. Since 2010, there are 10 of such programs available. By completing one of these AVA vet assistant schools, you will be able to sit on a national exam for veterinary assistants issued in partnership with VetMedTeam. Individuals that pass the exam will receive a documenting certificate and can also use the AVA designation.

Prerequisites and Requirements for attending Vet Assistant Schools

There are only a couple basic requirements if you want to attend veterinary assistant school and will differ for each program.

  • Some require GED or high school diploma
  • Some require candidates to be 16 and some 18 years old
  • Some require candidates to have prior experience at an animal hospital or shelter
  • Some require students to volunteer at a local animal hospital while attending the school
    • With this requirement, you will need reliable transportation to get to the internship.

How Much Does Veterinary Assistant School – Vet Assistant Tuition

The type, where, and length of the program will dictate the cost of attending vet assistant school. For instance, there are vet assistant programs available at some community colleges and the tuition will dependent on your residency status. Online veterinary schools will typically be more affordable and offer different payment options while most community colleges require students to pay in full, but will have financial aid options. Paying in full and paying in installment will also change the cost of the program if installments are available. Tuition example of vet assistant programs:

  • Ashworth College – $503
  • Skagit $3500 or $4000 for out of state.
  • California State College – $1900
  • MXCC – $1800 or $5800 for out of state)
  • ed2go (online) – $99

What You Should Consider Before Going to Veterinary Assistant School?

There are a lot of options for people that want to get a little schooling for veterinary assisting if you choose to do so. Before applying for schools, consider these points.

  • What is your end goal?
    • Are you planning to do this for a bit and then switch into a completely different industry? If you only plan to stay in veterinary assisting for a year or two and then leave veterinary medicine, then the cost of the program will be a big deciding factor because it would not make sense to spend a lot of money on a program. You can either try to just learn it on the job or find a cheaper online program.
    • Many vet assistants will work as an assistant and then find that they want more responsibilities and higher pay. The next step up from veterinary assistant is veterinary technician which have a bigger role and receive higher salary (30%). If you’re sure that you want to stay in veterinary medicine for the life of your career, we recommend a veterinary technology degree opposed to a veterinary assistant degree. The training is a little harder, longer, and costs more, but you will be paid more and will have more options during your job search. It will also be easier to transition into veterinarian career. If you’re not sure if you want to stay in veterinary medicine, then a veterinary assistant degree is enough for now and you can always get a degree in vet tech later.  Even better yet, if you’re lucky to be close to a NAVTA program, you can transfer some of the courses you took in the AVA program into an accredited vet tech program. Saving you money and time.
  • Do you learn better from books and instruction or hand’s on? Do you have any experience working with animals? Vet assisting is an entry level position and many learn all they need on the job. If you’ve never worked at a shelter before or think will have a hard to learn on the job, attending a vet assistant program will definitely give you more confidence when you get a vet assistant job.
  • What is your availability? Will you have time to attend school full time or do you have other responsibilities? Choosing hybrid online/offline or online only program will give you the flexibility to complete your degree.
  • Before applying for a school, take a look at our certification and how to choose vet assistant school article.

If you’re ready to apply for a veterinary assistant school or vet tech school, please take a look at our state pages and the rest of the sections on this website.