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Do you love the idea of making a great living while also helping animals in need?

If you answered yes, a career as a Veterinary Assistant may be an ideal match for you!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of veterinary medicine is expected to add 51,700 jobs in the next few years. This represents a growth rate of 19%, which is roughly 3 times as fast as other occupations!

In order to get your foot in the door of this fantastic growing healthcare field, you’ll want to make sure you are the absolute best candidate for the job.

So how do you go about this exactly?

You can become certified as a veterinary assistant.

But there are many certifications out there, which might be confusing. To really ensure your resume stands out from others, you’ll want to get the absolute best training.

We’re here to help you with just that. Below, we’ve created a list of schools for vet assistants.

Read more about what we look for and our methodology below…but without further ado:

Here’s the list of Best Schools and Classes:

Top Pick

Key Highlights

  • 100% Online
  • Lowest Price
  • Accredited University
  • Hands-On Externship Included
  • Fastest Completion
  • Free Laptop
Check Out Preppy's Vet Assistant Program

If you have a dream of working as a veterinary assistant, you simply won’t find another certification training program like Preppy.

What is Preppy?

Preppy is an exciting and innovative education platform partnered with renowned Auburn University to offer students top-notch certification preparation.

One of the things that makes Preppy’s program so unique is that it can be completed in as little as 3-6 months.

Most certification programs take 2-3 times as long to complete!

What else might you love about Preppy?

The better question to ask is, what won’t you love?

Preppy’s program is not only faster than others, it is also the most affordable option out there. But it gets even better.

Despite Preppy offering the most affordable vet assistant certification program, it still offers students an excellent payment plan. The goal is to ensure every student can afford a great education!

In addition, Preppy’s program is offered 100% online. This is also rare. The majority of certification programs on the market require either some or all of learning to happen in a traditional classroom setting. Online programs allow busy, working adults the flexibility to learn when and where is most convenient for them!

When you sign up for Preppy’s veterinarian assistant program, you can complete it in as little as 3-6 months and be ready for the major certification for vet assistants, the VA1 certification offered through the Medical Career Assessments (MedCA).

In addition, it could possibly prepare you as well for many others like Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA) through state Veterinary Medical Associations, and Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

Something else that sets Preppy apart from other certification programs is the fact that it is offered through an accredited university. Many certification programs available are from un-accredited institutions and generally lack any real reputation.

When you get your training through Preppy, your instruction will be provided by Auburn University, a world-class institution known for offering exceptional programs. This helps build credibility among employers and makes your resume stand out even better from the crowd.

Textbooks and learning materials are included, which means you’ll never have to worry about hidden tuition costs. The program even includes a free laptop. Yes, you read that right, and it’s yours to keep even after you complete the trianing.

Are we all big fans of Preppy? Yes, we are unabashedly biased. 

Over the years, we’ve seen so many subpar certification programs come and go. We are so happy and relieved for a program that finally ticks all of the boxes!

Check Out Preppy’s Veterinary Assistant Program >>

San Joaquin Valley College

Key Highlights

  • Accredited School
  • Externship Included
  • Thorough Curriculum
  • No Online Classes
  • High Tuition Fees
  • Longer Time to Completion

San Joaquin Valley College is a for-profit private career college founded in 1977. The college offers Associate of Science degrees and Certificates of Completion in the areas of medical, business, and technology at their many campuses throughout California, with some programs offered through their online platform. The school is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

The school’s veterinary assistant program introduces students to animal nursing fundamentals, as well as laboratory procedures, diagnostic imaging and more.

We appreciate that the school is accredited and the course program is comprehensive. The school also offers an externship for some real-world hands-on experience.

We do have some concerns, however. For starters, the program is only offered in a classroom setting. This just isn’t feasible for many adult students with work and family responsibilities. Tuition-wise, this school is at the high end, costing over $20,000! That’s 10x the cost of some other schools on this list. And completion will also take 9 months or more.

Cal State East Bay

Popochen, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Key Highlights

  • Accredited School
  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Online Classes
  • Externship Included
  • Longer Completion Time (More than 6 months)
  • Mid-High Tuition (with no monthly payment plan)

California State University – East Bay has been a part of the California State University system for more than 60 years. The school offers 40 continuing education degree and certificate programs through evening and weekend classes, as well as some online classes. Cal State East Bay is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, commonly referred to as WASC.

Cal State does offer a vet assistant program that has been designed by professionals in the field. Students will learn about various aspects of vet assisting, including how to assist in surgery and dental procedures.

We like the fact that the school is accredited and that the program has been thoughtfully designed. Classes are also offered online, which is great for adult learners, and an externship is included.

Some red flags for us:

Completion of the course may take more than 6 months, which is longer than some programs on this list. Cost may also be a factor for some.

Tuition is higher than others on the list in the mid-price range and the school offers no monthly payment plan for those who don’t have out-of-pocket cash.

Pima Medical Institute

Key Highlights

  • Accredited School
  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Externship Included
  • No Online Classes
  • High Tuition Cost (no payment plan)
  • Longest Time to Completion (18 months)

Pima Medical Institute is a for-profit private college that opened in 1972. The school focuses on medical career education and has campuses throughout the state of Arizona. Pima is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.

Pima’s vet assistant program provides students with educational and clinical training in preparation for entry-level employment in animal care. In addition to developing professional skills in animal nursing and surgical imaging, they will be instructed on in-office procedures.

We appreciate that the school and program itself is accredited. They also offer an externship, which is helpful in getting hands-on experience.

Some issues that stood out to us are the fact that this program is offered through in-person instruction only. That will be challenging for a lot of adult learners.

Second, there is a high tuition cost with no payment plan, and the course takes 18 months to complete (which is far longer than others on this list).

Why take almost 2 years to complete your training when you can be done and potentially working in under 6 months?

Penn Foster

Key Highlights

  • Accredited School
  • Online Classes
  • Externship Included
  • Longer Time to Completion
  • For-Profit School
  • Poor Refund Policy

Penn Foster is for-profit college that has been around for quite sometime, offering high school students and adult learners career based programs.

They do offer a vet assistant program that provides students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to pass the certification exam and enter the workforce.

We like the fact that they have a thorough and accredited program curriculum that is 100% online and self-paced. The program also includes an externship.

But here’s what we don’t like: While Penn Foster is a college institution, it is a For-Profit college which many people have a problem with.

For-profit universities received a lot of bad press in prior years due to certain recruiting practices and government crackdowns.

Secondly, their refund policy is very short…only 6 days.  In our minds, that’s very risky.  Many others on the list have longer refund periods, and we think this is critical.

6 days is just not long enough to gauge whether you like the program or not.  It’s a big commitment, and costs a lot of money…one doesnt want to lose that money if they realize they’re unhappy just one week in.

Purdue University

Key Highlights

  • Online Classes
  • Accredited School
  • Higher Tuition
  • Longer Time to Completion
  • Solid Support
  • Financial Support

Purdue University, a public school founded in 1861, is one of the oldest universities in the US and ranks well among the top public universities in the country.

Their VNDL (Veterinary Nursing Distance Learning) program is a comprehensive online program with flexible learning and tuition fee options, introducing students to the latest technology and practices in the field. The program ensures that the students are ready to work as veterinary assistants in the industry upon graduation.

From nursing fundamentals and laboratory procedures to diagnostic imaging and more, the program focuses on various elements to prepare students for pursuing a skilled career. The program also offers clinical mentorship to the students ensuring a higher level of exposure to industry standards and expectations.

Although the program is with an accredited and reputable university, the cost per credit hour might be a bit higher than others on the list. Additionally, the program consists of around 65 credit hours; this is longer than most other similar programs out there.

Purdue University does offer programs eligible for financial aid to get student loans, etc. Students can browse through their financial aid portal and get help through plenty of options available.

What Makes a Good School for Vet Assistants?

The veterinary field is booming in large part due to a growing pet population and expanding pet treatment options. According to the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey, average yearly U.S. household spending on pets has increased 35% from $431 in 2007 to $583 in 2016.

Those people interested in a career as a vet assistant would be wise to choose the absolute best training program available. You may be wondering what exactly makes a good vet assistant certification program and why did we choose the ones we did?

It’s simple, really.

They offered one or more of the following:

Online Learning

Times have changed and most students these days prefer to learn from an institution that offers online programs. Adult students in particular appreciate online education because it allows them to keep a proper work/school/life balance.

When learning online, there is no need to move out of state for school or even drive to a community college a couple of nights a week.

And, since online classes are so flexible, you never have to worry about missing important family events or sitting in the audience of your kid’s 3rd-grade play or soccer game. You can also continue working your current job.

Comprehensive Training

Online classes are only a part of the entire equation when it comes to choosing the right certification program. You also need to ensure the training provided is top-notch and developed by instructors who are professionals in the field. Only comprehensive training will get you ready to take the certification exams.

The schools we have selected prepare students for the major vet assistant certifications, in this case, CVA, AVA, and others.

Self-Paced Coursework

No two people, or two students, are alike. Some people learn at a faster pace, while others need a bit more time to truly retain new information. A good program is self-paced and allows you to learn the way you need to.

Self-paced learning also means you study when and where is most convenient for you. If you can only study in the early morning hours before the kids get up, or in the evening after they’ve gone to bed, that’s no problem.

Some of the schools on our list give you the freedom to learn when is most convenient for you.

Textbooks are Included

If you’ve never been to college, or it’s been a while since you were in school, you may not know the price of most textbooks these days.

Spoiler alert: they are REALLY expensive! It’s important to select a program that includes textbooks and learning materials so you can save as much money as possible!

Passionate Instructors

Learning can be a lot of fun. But let’s be honest – it can also be quite dull. You want to choose a program that is led by instructors who are passionate and excited to share their knowledge and experience.

Robust Support

If you are interested in enrolling in an online program, it’s important to make sure they have a great support system that will answer your questions when you have them or solve tech issues that may arise.


Getting the right training and knowledge is just one step on your journey toward becoming a vet assistant. You’ll also want to be sure you get some real-world hands-on experience before you enter the job market.

This experience will help you stand out from other candidates who only have certification but no real-world acumen.

The Importance of Vet Assistant Training

As I mentioned, the veterinary field is steadily growing. As more people adopt pets into their lives, and more treatment options become available to extend the life of these pets, there will be a growing demand for vets and vet assistants.

If you’re someone who has always had a fondness for animals and a desire to make a difference in the world, a career as a vet assistant may be the ideal match for you.

Just how fast is the veterinarian assistant field growing? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, employment of veterinary assistants is projected to grow 19% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

When you become a certified vet assistant, you sign up for a rewarding career that offers purposeful work and job stability.

Our Methodology

I’ve just covered a lot of information so let’s do a bit of a recap:

Before my team and I put this article together, we sat down and poured through a lot of data. There were a lot of vet assistant programs to sift through. In the end, we chose those programs that ticked the most boxes.

What were those boxes again?

For this list, a school was given preference based on one or more of the following:

  • Online programs
  • Non-profit vs for-profit
  • Shorter duration
  • Comprehensive preparation for certification exams
  • Self-paced learning
  • Textbooks and other learning materials included in the cost
  • Instructor-led
  • Support
  • Externships to gain valuable experience

If you’re interested in a career as a vet assistant, you could become certified and begin working in as little as 3-6 months by completing training through one of these fantastic schools! What a great opportunity to work in an exciting industry helping people and their pets!

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.