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

Curriculum - Vet 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 extensive curriculum consists of 11 stages. The written portion of the veterinary assistant school curriculum includes 2 comprehensive textbooks. Each stage is full of highly relevant and detailed information providing you with the tools needed 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.

Detailed study guides are provided to direct you through the individual components of the Veterinary Assistant Program. They have been designed with your success in mind and reinforce what is taught throughout the entire program.  


Background Introduction

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 veterinarians and other 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

What makes ABC stand out from other veterinary assistant schools? When you choose to enroll in ABC's unique Veterinary Assistant Program of study, you can keep your present job while completing your vet assistant training. 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 vet 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 and they will be with you every step of the way! 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 to become a veterinary assistant.

Curriculum Description by Stage

The ABC Veterinary Assistant curriculum is designed to educate you on the essential skills for a career as a veterinary assistant as published by the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators (AVTE). 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. In addition, the AVTE is credited for campaigning for the practice acts, laws and regulations governing the profession of veterinary technology.

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.

The student develops a complete appreciation for the importance of the human/animal bond. 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. The student is educated on 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. The student learns 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 of 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 are 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 patient’s 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 patient’s 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 every veterinary assistant should master in order 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 critical 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 is richly informative and will provide you with the essential tools needed to properly nurture the animals in your care. This stage focuses on the skills needed to identify different breeds of dogs and cats, recognize normal and abnormal behavior in dogs and cats, identify common diseases and medical conditions, and properly care 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. The student 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 of film. The student is 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, how to set yourself up to succeed, 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 unique opportunity to reinforce your studies by practicing what you have learned in an animal hospital setting. Unlike other programs that generally charge in excess of $9,000 for a hands-on program, we include this rewarding and educational experience at a fraction of the cost as an essential part of the ABC learning experience. We believe that a hands-on component will provide each student with a better understanding and working knowledge of what is expected of a veterinary assistant in the working world.

The externship consists of 90 hours of unpaid work experience which combines preparing patients and assisting the veterinarian and other veterinary personnel. This stage allows you the opportunity to put what you have learned into practice. As a student, you will first complete 10 hours observing the veterinary staff while they complete veterinary assistant tasks. During the remaining 80 hours, you will be evaluated on your aptitude for performing the tasks expected of a veterinary assistant.

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. Did you know that 90% of dogs and cats will experience some kind of medical emergency in their lifetime? Statistics show that preventable accidents are a leading cause of death among household pets. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), one out of four additional animals could be saved if just one Pet First-Aid technique was applied prior to the animal receiving professional veterinary care. Animal Behavior College’s Pet First Aid and CPR Certification will give you the knowledge needed to respond safely and effectively 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 pet’s 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
ABC is also proud to provide Short Term Programs to students and graduates of our Veterinary Assistant Program. ABC’s vastly informative programs were created due to our ongoing efforts to ensure that our students receive the most comprehensive and well-rounded education possible well after graduation. Each course is jam-packed with remarkably valuable, up-to-date and relevant information that enhances the student’s knowledge in the animal industry. These courses are available for purchase at the time of enrollment, during the program, and at graduation.

Training Shelter Dogs
(available for Dog Obedience Instructor program students and alumni only, or students with sufficient previous dog training education)
As an ABC Certified Dog Trainer, you will frequently encounter dogs temporarily residing in shelters and rescues due to owner relinquishment. This devastating situation calls for immediate attention, and for that reason, ABC has created a greatly informative Short Term Program that assists our alumni in helping homeless dogs become more adoptable. This Short Term Program consists of 250+ pages of material authored by Teoti Anderson, former president of the APDT, with contributions from Kelly Gorman-Dunbar and numerous ABC staff members. The information provided covers everything from understanding the different kinds of shelters and how to approach them, to identifying dogs for adoption and defensive handling, to temperament assessments, including some excellent information from the ASPCA MYM Safer Program. Furthermore, Training Shelter Dogs is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

Upon completion of this course, you will have a solid foundation of knowledge regarding the training and treatment of shelter dogs everywhere with specific attention to re-homing.

The Art of Selling and Teaching Private Lessons
(available for Dog Obedience Instructor program students and alumni only, or students with sufficient previous dog training education)
Understanding how to expertly perform private dog training sessions is a crucial component of every professional dog trainer’s career. There are several reasons why learning how to offer quality private lessons is greatly beneficial to your training repertoire. Some clients are better served by one-on-one, personalized training rather than a group class atmosphere—perhaps the client’s schedule is especially hectic, her puppy is not of age to attend group classes or her older dog’s shyness renders him uncomfortable when forced to interact with other dogs. Regardless of the particular client’s reason, there will always be a demand for private-lesson training.

This comprehensive Short Term Program is comprised of approximately 300 pages of highly detailed, invaluable, critical information that every trainer should familiarize her/himself with. Authored by Teoti Anderson, former president of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), this Short Term Program enriches your knowledge of proper private-lesson training and instructs you on such relevant topics as sales techniques and tips, understanding communication styles, the different types of private training, developing effective training plans, how to teach off-leash behaviors and how to achieve client compliance to maximize training. Additionally, it covers advanced tips for marketing yourself and your business and includes essential information on liability protection, a necessity for every dog trainer.

Upon completion of this course, you will have the background necessary to offer and administer effective private lessons within a client’s home, at a local park or at your own facility.

The Art of Selling and Teaching Private Lessons is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
The animal industry is continually growing with new ways of caring for pets. Two of the fastest growing animal services are pet sitting and dog walking. Using decades of experience in the pet industry, ABC has created a Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Short Term Program to help you add this invaluable service to your repertoire. This Short Term Program contains 400 pages of detailed material written by Wendy Bedwell-Wilson, author and former managing editor for Pet Product News International. Topics include identifying and understanding body language; canine, feline and avian behavior; basic nutrition and hygiene; creating mental and physical stimulation; building relationships with your clients’ pets; personal and home owner safety; creating and maintaining schedules; walking a dog calmly on-leash; building clientele; and much more.

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 North America, learning how to manage and treat cat behaviors can be a profitable venture for any pet professional. In this comprehensive Short Term Program, 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 learn how to: read and interpret feline body language and vocalizations; teach basic behavior training (e.g., sit, stay, come); and address problem behaviors (scratching, spraying, howling, etc.). This course also covers teaching “fun” behaviors, such as roll over, tightrope walking and jumping through a hoop. Completion of this course gives you invaluable knowledge necessary to help pet owners and add a valuable skill that can be utilized in your animal career.

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
This Short Term Program discusses basic nutrition, the regulations governing commercial pet foods and cats’ and dogs’ nutritional needs. In this course you 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 (e.g., dry food, canned food, raw food, supplements, etc.) and how food can play a huge role in a pet's behavior.

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 ability to soothe and calm dogs and cats through touch improves the human-animal relationship and promotes trust and bonding. Through massage, pet groomers might have a calmer animal on their grooming table, which allows them to move swiftly through the process of grooming without the problems heavy-handed groomers might experience. Veterinary staff may minimize discomfort and help sooth the aches of elderly animals. Dog trainers can create a more positive training experience due to their enhanced knowledge of canine anatomy and acute awareness of touch zones.

Pet Massage is a growing occupation. This comprehensive Short Term Program includes step-by-step massage instructions. 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.

NOTE: 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.

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