It is possible to become a vet tech through online courses, but you have to be careful to choose a properly accredited distance learning program.
Distance learning programs have become increasingly popular for those seeking to complete a veterinary technician degree. When we say “distance learning” we are talking about AVMA approved online programs—not the ones advertised on TV that claim you can “get a veterinary assistant certificate” in just a matter of weeks through a study at home program. Most (if not all) of these “certificate” schemes are essentially worthless, and you would be better off gaining hands on experience in a clinic rather than wasting your money on a so-called certificate.
Only graduates of approved distance learning programs (and traditional classroom based programs) are allowed to sit for the Vet Tech National Exam (VTNE), the official exam that techs must pass to earn official credentials for state licensing.
There are currently 8 distance learning programs recognized by the AVMA’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. The recognized programs are hosted by Cedar Valley College (TX), Colby Community College (KS), Jefferson State Community College (AL), Northern Virginia Community College (VA), Penn Foster College (AZ), Purdue University (IN), St. Petersburg College (FL), and San Juan College (NM). These programs offer an Associate of Applied Science degree (or a degree of a similar title).
It can take two to four years to complete the distance learning coursework for a veterinary technology degree, and the cost can range from $5,000 to $15,000. Several schools require students to work in a hands-on capacity at a vet clinic for at least 10 to 20 hours per week while completing their distance learning program. Those that do not have this requirement still require demonstration of hands on skills through an occasional on-site campus visit, through evaluations by approved proctors, or by submitting video that documents the student’s clinical abilities.
Distance learning can be a great way to earn a vet tech degree while working a full or part time job. Just be sure that the degree program you choose will be worth your significant investment of time and money.