Introducing: Penn Foster’s Veterinary Assisting Career Diploma Program

While PCDI is no longer accepting enrollments in our Veterinary Assisting Career Diploma Program, we’re excited to introduce you to our partner school, Penn Foster.

PCDI Canada and Penn Foster Logos

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.


Pursue Your Passion for Animals

Explore our online Veterinary Assistant Program, approved by NAVTA, to start a rewarding career working with animals. Prepare for the AVA exam with flexible courses and gain hands-on experience through externships. Benefit from high demand in the field, with Penn Foster's trusted partnerships with major veterinary hospitals like Banfield and VCA. Study at your own pace with our flexible online programs tailored to your schedule.

Why Penn Foster?

Penn Foster has been on a mission to help people like you obtain skills and achieve their career goals for more than 130 years. We provide students with a quality education that fits their busy lifestyle and budget, offering over 100 self-paced, career-relevant programs across our College, Career School, and High School. Every course is designed to work with your schedule, anytime, anywhere you want to study. With a focus on relevant skills and career prep for the job you’re after, Penn Foster can help you graduate with confidence and help provide a guide towards your career goals.

What You'll Learn in Penn Foster’s Online Veterinary Assistant Career Diploma Program

  • How to be an effective vet assistant through the study of office procedures, communication skills, medical terminology, and standard examination procedures.
  • 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.
  • How to prepare for the Approved Veterinary Assistant examination, offered through NAVTA.
  • How to apply your knowledge to hands-on training through a required 8-week externship.

Penn Foster’s Online Veterinary Assistant Career Diploma Program

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
See Full Curriculum  

Learn More About the Penn Foster Experience

At Penn Foster, we think online learning can make a big difference in people's lives, and it should be available to everyone. That's why we've made our programs affordable and tailored to fit your needs. You can learn and improve your skills for the job you want, all at your own pace and on your own schedule.

Veterinary Assistant Career Diploma 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 $36,440 in 2023.* 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 20% 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.


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. "Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers." Occupational Outlook Handbook. Accessed May 9, 2022.

Statements found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook are not a guarantee of any post-graduation salary, in part because the data used to create the Occupational Outlook Handbook includes workers from differing educational backgrounds, levels of experience, and geographic areas of the country.

What is Penn Foster?

PCDI is part of the Penn Foster Network. Penn Foster, PCDI’s partner school, has been a leading provider of distance education and online, career-focused training programs for over 130 years. Like PCDI, Penn Foster’s programs are affordable, fully online, and self-paced, allowing you to build skills and prepare for the job you want on your terms.