There are veterinary assistant programs available through community colleges, technical and vocational schools and online. To choose the best veterinary assistant program, it is important to think about several things. The quality of the program itself is a very important consideration, as are your short- and long-term goals. Where the program is located, how long it will take to complete and whether it provides scheduling flexibility also can be important factors as you choose a veterinary assistant program. There also are a host of other considerations to take into account when choosing a program, including whether the school provides job placement assistance, the cost of the program and more.
To choose a high-quality veterinary assistant program, look for programs taught by veterinarians, veterinary technicians or other professionals educated in the veterinary field. Do a little research about the mix of coursework to make sure that the program covers both theory and practical application. Especially important in choosing a veterinary assistant program is that the program includes hands-on time actually working with animals in a veterinary hospital or related setting. This on-the-job training can take place either as a credit-earning course during the program, through an internship or following completion of the program.
The species of animals that you want to work with might help drive your choice of a veterinary assistant program. If your goal includes working with horses, for example, look for a veterinary assistant program that offers coursework in large animal care. Ask about the types of veterinary practices in which the school typically places interns and whether interning in an equine practice might be possible. If your long-term goals include possibly progressing in the veterinary field, consider programs with coursework that can be transferred to two- or four-year schools to help meet the requirements of an animal science, veterinary technology or other veterinary-related degree.
If you are not planning to relocate to be close to a school, then narrow the field down by looking only at schools in your geographic area. You can also consider an online veterinary assistant program, which can help alleviate location concerns as well as concerns about scheduling and flexibility. A traditional full-time veterinary assistant program usually takes about a year to complete. Online programs often allow you to complete coursework at your own pace, which can be especially beneficial to working students. An online program still should include required hands-on work with animals, which will usually take place following completion of the coursework portion of the program.
It's also important to consider which organization accredits the school and to do some homework about the organization's reputation. The cost of a program is important to most people. After you find out the cost of a program that you are considering, compare the cost to other similar programs. If the program you are considering is significantly more costly than others, find out why.
If paying for school is a concern, find out whether the programs you are considering offer financial aid or if they accept scholarships. Also, ask about job placement assistance following school. If the school says it offers placement assistance, ask for statistics about its placement record.