Veterinary Assistant

In Demand

Online Vet Assistant Program

If you love working with animals, our online NAVTA-approved Veterinary Assistant Program can help you prepare for an in-demand career as a veterinary assistant and explore a career in veterinary sciences. With flexible online courses, you can build your industry knowledge at your own pace and apply what you've learned at a hands-on externship.

  • One of only 3 NAVTA-approved online veterinary assistant schools. 
  • Courses help you prepare to sit for the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) exam.
  • Employment for veterinary assistants is in high demand. 
  • Penn Foster is a trusted partner of some of the largest veterinary hospitals in the country, including Banfield, VCA, and BluePearl.
  • Our online programs are flexible enough for you to finish them at a pace that works for you, based on how much time you can dedicate to your coursework each week.
Self Paced

Save up to $190 Ends 7/30/2024

Cost of Program


$1,089 Save $190


$59/month, Start for as low as $20

1-800-471-3232 (10AM - 6:30PM ET)

What You Will Learn

  1. How to be an effective vet assistant through the study of office procedures, communication skills, medical terminology, and standard examination procedures.
  2. How to prepare examination rooms, assist veterinary technicians and veterinarians with exams, perform basic animal handling and restraint, and assist with radiology and ultrasound imaging. 
  3. How to prepare for the Approved Veterinary Assistant examination, offered through NAVTA.
  4. How to apply your knowledge to hands-on training through a required 8-week externship.
Full Program Goal & Outcomes

Veterinary Assistant Career Outcomes

Veterinary Assistant







Our programs are designed with job-readiness in mind. You'll learn what a vet assistant does and be able to apply your skills and knowledge in the workplace through a hands-on externship.

State Licensing Requirements

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this program.  See the State Licensing page for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Vet Assistant Curriculum

  • 10 courses
  • 27 exams
  • 58.2 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
  • 1 Externship

Estimated completion time:

  • Fast track = 12 months
  • Average time = 16 months

With Penn Foster, you can learn at whatever pace works best for you. Some learners will be more comfortable moving faster, and dedicating more time, and the fast track estimate will apply to them. The average track will apply to most learners who can dedicate a few hours per week to completing their coursework. The estimated completion times are based on completion times for learners enrolled in this program from May 2021 - April 2022, excluding withdrawals.

In our Veterinary Assistant classes, you'll learn the skills and get the hands-on veterinary assistant training required to tend to the needs of animals. Your courses include:

  • Behavior, Handling, and Restraint
  • Body Systems and Terminology 1 & 2
  • Small and Large Animal Nursing
  • Radiology and Surgical Preparation
  • Veterinary Practice Administration and Procedures


Non-US residents: This is a United States-based institution with course materials that are geared toward US job and labor standards. Learners from outside of the US may find that some information and materials will differ from the current standards of their country. Please note, the materials for this program are in English and use the Imperial unit of measurement, not the metric system.


This program is available only to students within the United States and Canada. Due to externship requirements and other factors, international students are not able to enroll.

Show Full Curriculum
veterinary assistant holding a puppy.

Veterinary Assistant Externship Experience

Penn Foster's Veterinary Assistant Training Program includes a required externship to gain hands-on experience in the field. After completing your studies online, you'll work alongside trained and licensed veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary assistants to apply what you learned to real-world experiences before graduating.

The externship is a minimum of 100 hours completed over an 8 week period. You can complete your externship at a clinic or veterinary hospital near you. 

Vet Assistant Student Success Stories

Penn Foster Veterinary Assistant graduates have gone on to start careers in veterinary practices and hospitals. Learn more about their experience.
View Student Success Stories
quote icon

Galina R.

2020 Veterinary Assistant Graduate

"Being a Penn Foster graduate gave me the confidence to go into a new career, pursue a higher education, and allowed me to coach and mentor others going into this field.”

Looking for veterinary assistant training for your workers?

Penn Foster currently works with hundreds of leading employers to meet their unique organizational needs.
Learn More

Veterinary Assistant Diploma Tuition

Our online Vet Assistant classes are meant to be affordable on any budget. Get started today with one of our payment plan options below.

Option 1: Pay in full

Save up to $190 Ends 7/30/2024

Cost of Program1


$1,089 Save $190

  • Best price. Best value.
  • Pay the full cost today
  • No monthly payments
Enroll Now

Option 2: Monthly Auto Pay Plan

Cost of Program1


  • Pay $59 per month
  • Start for $20 down
  • All major credit and debit cards accepted
Enroll Now

Option 3: Monthly Mail Pay Plan

cost of program1


  • Pay $59 per month
  • Start for $49 down
  • Mail your payments
Enroll Now

Need more info or ready to enroll?

Looking for more information on transfer credits, military benefits, or our refund policy? Find this information and more about tuition and enrollment here.

Tuition & Payment Options

We're here to help. Call 1-800-471-3232 (10AM - 6:30PM ET)

Request Info

Our Proven Vet Assistant Learning Model

Empowering students to reach their professional goals


  • Start anytime
  • No exam due dates
  • Self-paced


  • Digital study guides
  • Self-check quizzes
  • Simulations and videos


  • 24/7 access to online resources
  • Online student community
  • Vet Assistant Facebook Group


  • Expert faculty
  • Dedicated student services
  • Robust learning resources

Related Programs

Online Vet Assistant Program FAQs

What is the average salary of a veterinary assistant?

The national average salary for a veterinary assistant in an entry-level position was $29,780 in 2021.* Depending on experience, education, and state of residence, the salary for a vet assistant can vary so it’s important to check the average salary in your area. With sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, you can get an idea of what vet assistants in your area are paid to start.

What are the requirements to become a veterinary assistant?

To become a vet assistant, the basic requirements often begin with having a high school diploma or higher, though requirements may differ based on state and practice or hospital standards. While earning a degree or career diploma is not necessarily a requirement for being hired, it can help prospective assistants stand out to practice managers. To enroll in the online veterinary assistant training program at Penn Foster, students should have a high school diploma or GED and must be 18 years or older.

What are the regular duties of a veterinary assistant?

Though duties and responsibilities can vary based upon the work environment, most veterinary assistants handle routine animal care and assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians with daily tasks. Typically, as a vet assistant, you’ll be responsible for:

  • Feeding, bathing, and exercising animals boarding at the clinic.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting cages, kennels, and exam rooms.
  • Restraining animals during exams and laboratory procedures.
  • Monitoring and caring for animals after surgery.

Can I become a veterinary assistant with no experience?

While experience in the field isn’t necessary for some, it can be easier to find a position at a veterinary practice or hospital with previous relevant work on your resume. Through completing your academic and externship requirements in a NAVTA approved training program, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you have learned the knowledge and skills that are useful to working in the field.

Can Penn Foster help me study for veterinary certifications?

Yes! Penn Foster’s online Veterinary Assistant Program is 1 of only 3 online vet assistant programs approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) and the curriculum is aligned with their standards. Once you graduate, you are eligible to sit for the Approved Veterinary Assistant examination offered through NAVTA. Upon passing the exam, you earn the designation of Approved Veterinary Assistant.

Are veterinary assistants in high demand?

The need for skilled veterinary assistants is projected to grow by 19% in the next ten years, much faster than average. With an estimated 70% of U.S. households claiming at least one pet, practices and clinics will need to hire trained, knowledgeable assistants and technicians to meet client demand.

How long does it take to become a veterinary assistant at Penn Foster?

Penn Foster’s flexible online Veterinary Assistant classes can be completed around your schedule. With the ability to set your own pace, it’s up to you and your schedule when you finish the coursework. Once you’ve completed your academic work, you’ll participate in an 8-week externship to gain hands-on knowledge.