Become a Certified Veterinary Assistant – Study Veterinary Medicine and Work with Veterinarians or other Veterinary Personnel

Curriculum - Veterinary Assistant School

The Veterinary Assistant Training Program is designed to offer each student the convenience and cost of a home-study program with the added benefit of working with a veterinarian or other veterinary personnel in a real-world hospital environment.


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  • Written Curriculum

Our curriculum consists of 11 stages. The written portion of the veterinary assistant school curriculum consists of detailed study guides full of highly relevant and detailed information designed to prepare you to pursue a career in the veterinary industry.

  • Additional Materials

Educational videos to familiarize veterinary assistants with the most commonly used procedures within a veterinary hospital. The educational videos run approximately 2 hours and cover 23 topics.

Program Overview

The first stages of the curriculum give you a strong understanding of veterinary medicine and the responsibilities you will encounter working in an animal health career as a veterinary assistant. Once your foundation has been established, you will be given the opportunity to work in an actual animal hospital setting. You will work closely with veterinary personnel to gain real life experience as you move closer to launching your new animal career.

Study from the Privacy of Your Own Home

When you choose to enroll in ABC's Veterinary Assistant Program of study, you can keep your present job while completing your veterinary assistant training. The home study portion of the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program brings the classroom to your living room and neighborhood, which means no added expense will be incurred for housing at a distant veterinary assistant college and no time will be wasted with commuting back and forth to campus every day..

Flexible Hours

You can study around your current work or school schedule making this program a custom fit. With this flexibility, the normal completion time is 52 weeks.

Personal Program Manager

Although the first portion of the program is done in the privacy of your home, you will not be alone. An ABC Program Manager will be appointed to you upon enrollment. They will be there to guide you through the program, counsel you, answer all your questions, and grade all your exams. Your personal Program Manager will contact you shortly after enrollment to get acquainted and welcome you into the program. At that time, you will be given the Program Manager's toll free number and email address for future interactions and assistance as you journey through the program.

Curriculum Description by Stage

The Animal Behavior College Veterinary Assistant curriculum is designed to educate you on the essential skills for a career as a veterinary assistant following the guidelines set forth and approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), in cooperation with AVTE (Association of Veterinary Technician Educators) & CVTEA (Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities).1

In 1972, the House of Delegates authorized a program of accreditation of training for animal technicians - the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). Their objective is to recognize veterinary technician training programs that are fully capable of graduating acceptable assistants for veterinarians and to assist in the development of such programs, as well as to study all matters pertaining to activities of veterinary technicians, and to advise the Board of Directors concerning the implementation of AVMA policy concerning such matters.2

The AVTE was founded in 1973 to promote professional education to veterinary technology students in the United States and Canada. They advocate the cooperation among organizations, institutions and all of those interested in veterinary technology.

NAVTA was formed in 1981, allowing veterinary technicians to provide input on national issues involving the veterinary community. 3

Here is a brief overview of the ABC Certified Veterinary Assistant Training Curriculum

In this stage, you are introduced to the front office procedures in a veterinary hospital. This stage includes medical record assembly, admitting and discharging patients and important safety techniques and protocol for the veterinary office, including obtaining rudimentary knowledge of veterinary laws and legalities.

You will acquire a thorough understanding of the role of each member of the veterinary team, including the veterinarian, veterinary assistant, veterinary technician and all other animal hospital staff while learning the professional ethics of this occupation.

Additionally, this stage covers certificates, both rabies and health certificates required for travel, inventory and restocking procedures, as well as the computer skills needed in a veterinarian’s office.

Stage 2 - ANIMAL RESTRAINT - 21 Days (5.33 units)
In this stage, the fundamentals and the fine points of animal restraint are addressed. You will learn the differences of various forms of physical and psychological restraint techniques. You will learn the proper placement and removal of different animals from enclosures and the handling of fractious patients. You will learn specific restraint methods during the physical examination, the administration of injections and venipuncture. This stage also covers the proper positioning protocols for different animals and the standard veterinary terminology for each of these positions. This stage includes two training videos that visually demonstrate restraint techniques for both the cat and dog.

Click here for a sneak peek at Stage 2

Stage 3 - EXAMINATION ROOM PROCEDURES 14 Days (5.33 units)
In this stage, examination room protocol is covered. You start with basic examination room preparation, including levels of cleaning and disinfection needed in a medical environment. Highlights of this portion of the stage will include obtaining and documenting the patientís history, which includes a history of their chief complaint and a complete medical and environmental history. This stage also prepares you to perform physical examinations by learning to record observations, test and monitor vital signs, and determine the patientís weight, respiratory rate, and temperature. You also develop an understanding of vaccination protocols, bandaging, permanent identification, and emergency support. This stage includes three training videos on how to assist with bandaging and wound care, and how vaccinations work.

Click here for a sneak peek at Stage 3

Stage 4 - PHARMACY AND PHARMACOLOGY - 14 Days (2.67 units)
In this stage, the use of pharmaceuticals in a veterinary office is addressed. Detailed information pertaining to the legal issues in drug handling, specifically the proper prescription labeling and packaging of medications, the correct way to store biological and therapeutic agents, and the efficient performance of inventory control are included. You are introduced to very general types and groups of drugs and the difference between prescription and over-the-counter medications. You also learn the proper routes and methods of drug and vaccine administration as well as the abbreviations used for writing and filling prescriptions. This stage has two training videos to supplement the curriculum.

Stage 5 - SURGICAL PREPARATION AND ASSISTING - 35 Days (6.00 units)
In this stage, you learn the skills to best serve the animal hospital staff before, during and after a surgical procedure. You are given explicit instruction on how to assist with the preparation of patients using aseptic techniques and assist with positioning of surgical patients, while maintaining proper operating room conduct and asepsis. This section provides detailed information on anesthetic equipment and supplies, the appropriate sterilization methods for instruments and supplies, and the identification of common instruments and suture materials, both types and sizes.

Other critical components of this section include the understanding of operating room sanitation and care protocol, how to operate and maintain autoclaves, proper storage of surgical gowns and drapes, and the identification and appropriate care of common surgical equipment and supplies along with the proper disposition of hazardous medical wastes. This stage contains five training videos as well: anesthetic equipment and patient monitoring, anesthetic machine basics, patient preparation, patient monitoring and the aseptic technique.

Click here for a sneak peek at Stage 5

Stage 6 - SMALL ANIMAL NURSING - 35 Days (10.67 units)
In this stage, you will be taught the fundamentals of small animal nursing. This stage will provide you with the tools needed to properly nurture the animals in your care. This stage focuses on identifying different breeds of dogs and cats, recognizing normal and abnormal behavior in dogs and cats, identifying common diseases and medical conditions, and properly caring for the hospitalized patient in your charge. The essentials of patient housing, including environmental considerations, feeding and watering, socialization and exercise will also be addressed. Preventative care such as grooming, ear cleaning, nail trimming, bathing and dipping, along with dental hygiene will be covered as well. The prevention of nosocomial infections and zoonotic diseases and the delicate subject of euthanasia is all part of this very educational stage.

Stage 7 - LABORATORY PROCEDURES - 21 Days (8.00 units)
In this stage, you will acquire basic knowledge of laboratory procedures. Your studies will start with learning about the various laboratory equipment found in veterinary hospitals. You will then learn how to obtain, prepare and run tests for various biological samples, such as fecal, urine and blood and how to record these laboratory results. You will learn how to identify common parasites, both internal and external. This challenging stage has six training videos to support the curriculum- basic blood collection, basic microscope techniques, basic urinalysis, CBC- Complete Blood Count, fecal analysis, and using a refractometer.

Stage 8 - RADIOLOGY AND ULTRASOUND IMAGING - 21 Days (8.00 units)
In this stage, you are instructed on the proper techniques of radiology and ultrasound as a means of diagnoses. This includes positioning patients, basic safety practices and techniques, and proper methods of equipment, including developing film. You will be introduced to the basic mechanisms of how imaging for X-ray, ultrasound and endoscopy are produced. This stage also includes anatomy and physiology for small animals (cats and dogs). This stage has three training videos to accompany the written curriculum.

Stage 9 - CAREER BUILDING - 14 Days (3.33 units)
In this stage, the fundamentals of career building will be explored, as well as how to apply them to secure a position as an ABC Certified Veterinary Assistant. Special focus is placed on the job search, how to write resumes, compensation considerations, how to plan a productive job interview, and how to maintain job security. This stage also offers insight on how attitude affects your career, and the importance of financial planning and stability.   

Stage 10 - EXTERNSHIP - Up to 20 Weeks (1.78 units)
Upon reaching Stage 10, you will have the opportunity to reinforce your studies by seeing what you have learned put to practice in an animal hospital setting.  

The on-site training portion of the program is a critical part in assisting you in your quest to become a certified Veterinary Assistant. It also provides us with invaluable feedback from the mentor on everything from your skill sets, to attendance and professional demeanor. Whether you come to us inexperienced or with veterinary experience, our program must remain consistent. This means that it will be up to the veterinary hospital to determine whether they believe you have the skill sets required to satisfactorily complete the externship portion of our program. If you are experienced, we will do everything possible to challenge your learning and try to make this portion go faster if at all possible. However, it can only go as fast as the hospital has time to train and it will be intentionally spread out over time for you to be properly evaluated on your growth and experience

Pet CPR and First Aid Certification
Being a professional in any animal care profession is accompanied by the responsibility of being able to react calmly and safely in the event of an emergency. Animal Behavior Collegeís Pet First Aid and CPR Certification will give you the knowledge needed to respond to medical emergencies like choking, heat stroke, bleeding injuries and poisonous bites from insects and snakes. You will also learn how to artificially keep a petís heart and lungs working until you can seek veterinary help, along with many other vital lifesaving skills. By learning what can happen to your pet and how to respond appropriately, you may prevent many emergencies from ever happening and thereby help ensure the safety of not only your own pets, but any pets in your care.

Stage 11 - GRADUATION - 16 Days (3.33 units)
The Final Exam is given once your course work and externship have been successfully completed. You will review all of the material presented in the previous stages to prepare for the final. This review time is allotted for you to re-read and study the various concepts that have been taught. The Final Exam is designed to test your overall knowledge of skills required to become a veterinary assistant and will cover all areas of the curriculum.

Short Term Programs
Given the advanced level of education, you will be unable to start our Short Term Programs until you finish the first 9 stages of our Certified Veterinary Assistant Program. If you opt to PRE-purchase our Short Term Programs when you enroll in the Certified Veterinary Assistant Program you will be purchasing the Certified Veterinary Package.

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
This program provides detailed information on the proper care of and interaction with a variety of pets—dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, fish and reptiles.  Subjects include understanding animal communication, such as body language and vocalization, basic nutrition and hygiene, first aid and safety.  You will also learn how to: build relationships with clients and their pets, ensure personal and homeowner safety, create and maintain schedules, build clientele and much more—everything you need to know to start your own pet sitting and/or dog walking business.

Upon completion of this course, you will have a new and highly sought after service to provide to existing and future clients and their pets. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking has been approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

Cat Management and Training
Since cats outnumber dogs in the United States, learning how to manage and treat cat behaviors may be a profitable venture for the pet professional.  In this course, you will learn the proper socialization techniques for developing healthy feline-to-human relationships, as well as, feline-to-feline and feline-to-canine interactions.  You will also be taught how to read and interpret feline body language and vocalizations, how to teach basic behavior training (i.e. sit, stay, come), and how to address problem behaviors (i.e. scratching, spraying, howling, etc.).  This course also covers teaching “fun” behaviors, such as roll over, tightrope walk and jumping through a hoop.  The completion of this course will give you the knowledge to help pet owners and may help you become a true asset in your chosen animal career. offer training to animals not traditionally included in training programs.

Cat Management and Training is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

Pet Nutrition and Diet
The Pet Nutrition and Diet Short Term Program discusses basic nutrition, the regulations governing commercial pet foods, and the nutritional needs for both cats and dogs.  In this course, you will learn how to read pet food labels including the importance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and protective nutrients.  You will also learn about the different types of diets (i.e. dry food, canned food, raw food, supplements, etc.) and how food can play a huge role in a pet's behavior.  After the completion of this program, you will have the knowledge to educate your clients on how to provide their animals with proper nutrition based on their pet's individual age, weight, and health condition.

Pet Nutrition and Diet is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

Pet Massage
The Pet Massage Short Term Program gives veterinary staff the knowledge of how to calm each pet they interact with. The ability to soothe and calm dogs and cats through touch improves the human-animal relationship and promotes trust and bonding.  This comprehensive course includes step-by-step instructions that guide you through the details of the choreography of a massage for different sizes and types of pets.  Topics include: general anatomy and physiology, principles and concepts for different types of massage, creating your workspace, preparing yourself, details for how to develop a pet massage business, and much more!*

In addition, Pet Massage is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

*State and federal laws regarding the practice of Pet Massage vary widely and are subject to change. Since ABC has no jurisdiction regarding state and federal laws revolving around the practice of Pet Massage, ABC highly recommends that potential students educate themselves on the state and federal laws and regulations and how they may affect their practice of Pet Massage before purchasing the ABC Pet Massage Short Term Program. It is the responsibility of potential students to determine what laws and regulations their state has adopted to govern the practice of Pet Massage. ABC does not assume any responsibility for state or federal regulations that prohibit or limit the practice of pet massage by the student.




If you have additional questions about our Certified Veterinary Assistant Program, please feel free to contact us.

Veterinary Assistant College

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