Veterinary Technician Degree

Why Penn Foster College?

  • Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Learn about our School's Veterinary Technician Program

Earn your AVMA-CVTEA accredited Veterinary Technician Associate Degree with Penn Foster College and pay just $79 per credit with no application fee. Train at home or on the go, and gain real-world experience during your clinical externships. You'll graduate ready to enter a field with job opportunities projected to grow 30% through 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.¹

Penn Foster College has partnerships with two of the largest veterinary hospitals in the country, Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals. Our students may be able to secure their externship through these partner hospitals. And, our school's faculty includes practitioners, authors, and officers and committee chairs of state and national veterinary technology education associations. Our Veterinary Technician Program has FULL Accreditation with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) through their Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). This allows our graduates to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). View our VTNE results here.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Veterinary Technician associate degree program will prepare the students to work as veterinary technicians in small or large animal hospitals or clinics. The program also prepares the students to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
    • Office and Hospital Procedures, Client Relations, and Communication
      • Participate in facility management utilizing traditional and electronic media and appropriate medical terminology and abbreviations
      • Communicate in a professional manner in all formats—written, oral, non-verbal, and electronic
        Follow and uphold applicable laws and the veterinary technology profession's ethical codes to provide high quality care to patients.
    • Pharmacy and Pharmacology
      • Safely and effectively administer prescribed drugs to patients.
      • Accurately dispense and explain prescribed drugs to clients
    • Nursing
      • Demonstrate and perform patient assessment techniques in a variety of animal species
      • Understand and demonstrate husbandry, nutrition, therapeutic and dentistry techniques appropriate to various animal species.
    • Anesthesia
      • Safely and effectively manage and maintain patients in all phases of anesthesia
      • Safely and effectively select, utilize and maintain anesthetic delivery and monitoring instruments and equipment
    • Surgical Nursing
      • Understand and integrate all aspects of patient management for common surgical procedures in a variety of animal species
      • Understand and provide the appropriate instruments, supplies and environment to maintain asepsis during surgical procedures
    • Laboratory Procedures
      • Properly package, handle and store specimens for laboratory analysis
      • Properly carry out analysis of laboratory specimens
    • Imaging
      • Safely and effectively produce diagnostic radiographic and non-radiographic images
    • Laboratory Animal Procedures
      • Safely and effectively handle common laboratory animals used in animal research
    • Avian, Exotic, Small Mammals and Fish Procedures
      • Understand the approach to providing safe and effective care for birds, reptiles, amphibians, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and ferrets

Semester 1

Basic Skills Assessment

All degree applicants are required to complete two Basic Skills Assessments, one in reading and one in math, to determine the level of readiness for beginning their selected program. Additional studies may be required.

VET101 Orientation to Veterinary Technology 1 credit

Learn how to be successful in your program, and learn about the types of veterinary practices, the veterinary health-care team, and veterinary practice design.


  • Understand how to use the study materials, prepare for and take exams, access and use our website, create a study schedule, and determine your learning style.
  • Be familiar with veterinary medicine and veterinary technology.
  • Understand the roles of the various members of the veterinary health-care team.
  • Know the professional ethics and legal aspects of veterinary practice.
VET102 Introduction to Veterinary Technology 2 credits

In this course, you’ll learn about animal behavior, handling and restraint, patient history, and physical exams.


  • Understand animal behavior.
  • Recognize how to humanely control the animal’s natural defense mechanisms.
  • Take a quality medical history.
  • Perform a thorough physical examination.

Additional Course Material

Supplement: Medical Terminology

ENG103 Information Literacy 1 credit

Get better at finding and using information!


  • Search the Internet more effectively.
  • Get tips about search engines and reliable websites.
  • Learn how to search libraries and other information centers for important, useful information.
CSC104 Computer Applications 3 credits

This course will allow you to build your computer skills through a combination of reading and hands-on practice. You will navigate the popular software tools of Microsoft® Office.


  • Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
  • Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize data.
  • Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
  • Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.
SCI120 Introduction to Biology 3 credits

Get introduced to the origin of life and the relationships between all living things!


  • Study how organisms are structured and how they work.
  • Learn to discuss the various forms of life and their processes.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Essentials of Biology

VET113 Animal Anatomy and Physiology 1 4 credits

You’ll explore the fascinating world of structures and function of the animal body with emphasis on the similarities and differences of domestic animals. You’ll learn body organization and metabolism of cells, tissues, and organ systems, including the respiratory, digestive, skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular systems.

See the anatomy of cats and dogs with online access to dog and cat atlases.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians

VET114 Animal Anatomy and Physiology 2 4 credits

This course is a continuation of Anatomy and Physiology 1.


  • Recognize the integumentary, urinary, and endocrine systems.
  • Identify the nervous system and sensory organs.

You’ll continue to have online access to the dog and cat atlases.

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 2

ENG100 English Composition 3 credits

Get the skills and techniques you need to develop, draft, and revise college-level essays.


  • Identify your purpose and audience. Read actively and critically.
  • Edit for standard written conventions.
  • Submit three essays (process analysis, classification and division, and argumentation) and a course journal.

Additional Course Materials

Textbook: Successful College Writing

Supplement: The Little, Brown Essential Handbook

VET106 Veterinary Office Management and Skill with People 3 credits

As a veterinary technician, you may have a role in practice management.


  • Personnel management.
  • Leadership skills.
  • Customer relations.
  • Practice ethics.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians
MAT102 Mathematical Applications 3 credits

This course is designed to help you develop a solid foundation in mathematical applications.


  • Perform basic math operations using whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentages.
  • Write and solve business-related equations.
  • Determine trade and cash discounts; markups and markdowns; payroll; and simple interest.
  • Prepare a bank reconciliation statement.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Practical Business Math Procedures
VET110 Medical Nursing for Veterinary Technician 3 credits

As a veterinary technician, you are a key player in the animals’ health. So you’ll need a thorough knowledge of animal health care.


  • Perform general nursing care.
  • Take a sample collection.
  • Prepare fluid administration.
  • Deliver prophylactic dental care.
  • Administer wound care, bandaging, and casting.
  • Deliver emergency care.
MAT140 Medical Mathematics 3 credits

In this lesson, you’ll review and practice basic math and then learn medical math.


  • Use the units of measure in the metric system.
  • Calculate IV flow rates.
  • Perform dosage calculations.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Medical Dosage Calculations
  • Supplement: Essential Calculations for Veterinary Nurses and Technicians
VET124 Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians 3 credits

The material you’ll learn in this course will form the essential framework of understanding you’ll need to become a veterinary pharmacologist.


  • Understand the use of drugs in veterinary medicine.
  • Understand drug testing methodology and the use/handling of prescriptions.
  • Calculate dosages and demonstrate administration techniques.
  • Understand drug actions, interactions, and adverse reactions.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Applied Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians
Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

VET131 Clinical Externship 1 4 credits

Experience the work of a veterinary technician under the supervision of a veterinarian. You’ll gain hands-on experience and apply what you’ve learned in semesters one and two. This is the first of two clinical externships at a veterinary hospital. Be a part of the working veterinary team and practice the knowledge and skills acquired from the course material.

Semester 3

VET201 Clinical Pathology 1 3 credits

Clinical Pathology is a specialty that emphasizes the diagnosis and prevention of disease.


  • Understand the clinical laboratory and laboratory safety.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of urinalysis, a diagnostic procedure for evaluating patients.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of microbiology, the study of microbes bacteria, fungi, viruses.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of cytology, the examination and interpretation of smears made from tissues and fluids.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Laboratory Procedures for Veterinary Technicians

VET202 Clinical Pathology 2 3 credits

In this course, you’ll continue your study of clinical pathology. It’s vital that you understand the theories behind the various tests you’ll perform, as well as the methods to ensure the accuracy of the results.


  • Understand the fundamentals of clinical laboratory procedures.
  • Use equipment for hematology and hemostasis, clinical chemistry, and immunology.
Arts and Humanities Elective (Choose one) 3 credits

HUM102 - Art Appreciation

This course will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to critique a variety of artwork.


  • Understand artistic media.
  • Identify historical periods and artistic movements.
  • Explain the roles of the artist and the viewer.

HUM104 - Music Appreciation

This course will allow you to understand and appreciate the art of music.


  • Identify the basic principles of music theory, including melody, harmony, dynamics, and timbre.
  • Name the main types of musical instruments.
  • Distinguish various styles of music.
  • Identify influential composers of various periods of musical history.
VET212 Anesthesia for Veterinary Technicians 3 credits

Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient before, during, and after surgery.


  • Understand the pharmacology of commonly used anesthetic agents.
  • Identify different procedures for administering anesthesia.
  • Administer anesthesia and medications to animals and monitor their response.
  • Identify anesthetic equipment, calculate dosage, and recognize anesthetic emergencies.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Anesthesia and Analgesia for Veterinary Technicians

VET214 Surgical Nursing for Veterinary Technicians 3 credits

As a veterinary technician you may assist with surgery, so you’ll need an understanding of the surgical environment and equipment.


  • Identify and prepare surgical equipment.
  • Prepare animals for surgery.
  • Monitor animals during surgery.
  • Guide animals through recovery.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Small Animal Surgical Nursing
VET222 Clinical Parasitology for Veterinary Technicians 3 credits

Veterinary parasitology is the science that studies the parasites of animals.


  • Recognize internal and external parasites.
  • Demonstrate the step-by-step guidelines for collecting samples and preforming lab procedures.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Diagnostic Parasitology for Veterinary Technicians

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 4

VET220 Radiography for Veterinary Technicians 3 credits

X-ray radiation can be a useful tool in veterinary medicine for the diagnosis of injury and disease.


  • Understand the properties of radiation.
  • Recognize the dangers radiation can pose if not handled properly.
  • Use radiation as an effective diagnostic tool in veterinary medicine.

Included with Radiography for Veterinary Technicians is a video about radiology, anesthetic, and surgical preparation.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Radiography for Veterinary Technicians
VET224 Small and Large Animal Medicine 3 credits

You’ll study the interrelation between disease, pathology, and immunology.


  • Recognize common animal diseases, as well as prevention and treatment of animal diseases.
  • Identify the animal’s immune system and its defenses, including vaccination and immunization.
  • Understand occupational safety and how to prevent the spread of diseases.
SSC130 Essentials of Psychology 3 credits

This course will introduce you to the relationship between biology and behavior. You will learn about the human development throughout the life span.


  • Identify major psychological theories.
  • Discuss consciousness, memory, thought, and language.
  • Define intelligence, personality, and stress.
  • Analyze the role of gender in psychology.
  • Explain how community influences behavior.

Additional Course Materials:

Textbook: Psychology and Your Life

VET225 Animal Nutrition, Reproduction, Genetics, and Aging 3 credits

Like humans, animals need good nutrition too, but their nutritional needs are different.


  • Identify the nutrient and energy requirements of animals.
  • Understand feeding principles and pet food assessment.
  • Understand the physiology of reproduction, aging, and genetics.
VET228 Laboratory Animal Medicine and Nursing 3 credits

Laboratory animal medicine is a diverse field that requires broad knowledge of a large number of species.


  • Understand biomedical research and the ethical considerations centering on the use of laboratory animals in research.
  • Know state, federal, and local animal welfare regulations.
  • Discuss biology, care, utilization, and diseases of commonly used laboratory animals.

Additional Course Materials

Textbook: Laboratory Animal Medicine: Principles and Procedures

Supplement: Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

VET229 Veterinary Technician National Examination Review 1 credit

Here you’ll prepare for the Veterinary Technician National Examination. Credentialing varies from state to state; in approximately 40 states, the VTNE is administered as a means of credentialing.

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

VET231 Clinical Externship 2 4 credits

Again you’ll experience the work of a veterinary technician under the supervision of a veterinarian, this time in a mixed-animal practice. You’ll be part of the working veterinary team and practice the knowledge and skills acquired from your four semesters.

Graduation Requirements
  • Complete all 4 semesters.
  • Pass all courses.
  • Achieve a cumulative Quality Point Average (QPA) of 2.0 or higher.

Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows® 7 or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, Microsoft® Office 2013, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

NOTE: Advanced standing student shipments may vary from the above schedule.
Although this outline covers all four semesters of your program, you receive lesson materials for each semester as you enroll.
Working as a veterinary technician is physically demanding. Veterinary technicians must be able to walk and stand for long periods of time. The ability to reach, bend, climb, and crouch is needed to perform job responsibilities. Other requirements include the ability to lift and carry 50 pounds without assistance, to see, to speak (in English), and to hear well enough to communicate observations about animals, and to possess arm and hand steadiness — as well as finger dexterity — to operate equipment and work with animals.
This program requires fieldwork at the end of Semesters 2 and 4. It is the responsibility of the student to secure a site for the field placement(s). Students are required to have health insurance during externships.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Residents of Minnesota will receive the Associate of Applied Science upon completing this program.
Credits earned in Penn Foster programs may transfer to some, but not all, learning institutions. If you are planning to continue your education with another school after you earn your degree from Penn Foster, you should check with that school regarding credit transfer policies.
Microsoft, Windows, Excel, and PowerPoint are registered trademarks and Word is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Veterinary Technician sample lesson, click here.

State Licensing Requirements for Vet Techs

Licensing requirements for Veterinary Technicians vary greatly from state to state throughout the United States and may contain specific educational course approvals. You should contact your state's appropriate licensing bureau for the current requirements, or your state legislature for pending legislation.

Veterinary Technician Degree online

A Veterinary Technician helps diagnose and treat the illnesses and injuries of animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. If you are considering a career as a veterinary technician, here are some qualities that will make you successful:

  • Compassion: Veterinary technicians put the well-being of their animals first.
  • Strength under pressure: Veterinary techs are able to focus on their work, even in stressful situations.
  • Detail oriented: When it comes to caring for animals, every detail matters.
  • Investigative: The challenge that comes with helping new and past patients is rewarding.

I know the Penn Foster staff and fellow veterinary technician students are there for me 24/7 and just a click away!

Linda D, Los Angeles, CA

Penn Foster gives me the chance to pursue a degree in an area that I'm passionate about from home while still running our family farm and business. By living in such a rural area, without Penn Foster, my dream of a vet tech degree would never become a reality.

Nicole S, Nashville, KS

For an online learning program, Penn Foster lets you follow your dreams, work at your own pace, and still have hands-on learning through the practicums. The veterinary technician program is tough, but when you are finished you sure can say that you earned every bit of your education.

Brenda D, Huntington, WV

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • 15% discount on all Ren-Lor stethoscopes - look for the Penn Foster stethoscope under the Colleges section!
  • Books and learning aids, including the textbook "Diagnostic Parasitology for Veterinary Technicians," written by one of our faculty members, Ed Robinson, CVT, Shakespeare Veterinary Hospital and Penn Foster College Veterinary Technology Program Instructor
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Vet Tech academic group
  • Your personalized student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising
  • Access to our monthly Vet Tech newsletter, Tech Times
  • Hands-on experience with two clinical externships through a private practice near you, or through our partners, Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals

When should I begin looking for my Vet Tech clinical externship location? Does Penn Foster College provide any assistance?

Students should begin looking for a clinical externship location early in their second semester. Though Penn Foster College provides students with the necessary tools to obtain an externship site, it is the student's responsibility to ultimately obtain a suitable location for the externship. As part of our partnerships with Banfield and VCA Animal Hospitals, students may obtain required practical experience at participating hospitals, but it is the student's responsibility to check with the hospitals in their area. Students also receive extensive mentoring and guidance from their Penn Foster College externship evaluator throughout the externship process.

How long will it take me to complete my Vet Tech program?

Completion times vary from person to person depending on the number of credits you can transfer to Penn Foster College and the number of hours you can commit to studying each week. With our online Vet Tech program, you can choose a pace that's right for you, so you can progress as quickly as you'd like.

Will my Penn Foster College credits transfer to other schools?

Penn Foster College credits have been accepted for transfer into colleges across the country. Students should check with a specific college to see if they accept our credits, as credit transfer can vary depending on the school. No form of accreditation guarantees that any learning institution will accept credits from any school as transfer credits. For more information on transferring credits, click here.

More FAQs >

¹ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, on the Internet here. Statistics found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook are based on national data, so job growth in your area may be different.

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