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Veterinary Studies - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q: What is the difference between a veterinary assistant and veterinary technician?

A veterinary technician is a graduate of a 2-year AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited Veterinary Technology Program.  Veterinary technicians are trained to assist the veterinarian in various tasks including surgical procedures, anesthesiology, radiology (taking and developing x rays)surgical nursing and dental prophylaxis.  Most states require Veterinary Technicians to pass a credentialing exam in order to gain licensure or certification.  In addition, some states require that certain tasks (e.g., administration of anesthesia) be performed only by credentialed technicians or veterinarians.

The term veterinary assistant is applied to individuals who work in the veterinary clinic but lack an AVMA certification.  These individuals may receive only on-the-job training or have attended a 1-2 semester Veterinary Assisting Program. The duties of a veterinary assistant may vary widely from practice to practice.  Because Hawaii currently lacks an AVMA accredited Veterinary Technology Program (and credentialing requirements), Veterinary Assistants are frequently called upon to fill many of the highly-skilled roles typically occupied by credentialed technicians.  As such, the WCC Veterinary Assisting Program is designed to train students to become invaluable members of the veterinary medical team.  Upon successful completion of this certificate, students will be able to:

  • effectively communicate with clients and veterinary staff
  • schedule appointments and generate invoices
  • demonstrate proper patient restraint and safety procedures
  • initiate physical exams and obtain patient histories
  • assist with surgical procedures and dental cleanings
  • administer medications under a veterinarian's supervision
  • collect blood samples and perform diagnostic laboratory tests

For more information on veterinary technicians and assistants, please visit

Q: What types of skills will I be able to perform after completing the certificate or degree?

Upon successful completion of the Veterinary Assisting certificate, students will be able to:

  • effectively communicate with clients and veterinary staff
  • schedule appointments and generate invoices
  • demonstrate proper patient restraint and safety procedures
  • initiate physical exams and obtain patient histories
  • assist with surgical procedures and dental cleanings
  • administer medications under a veterinarian's supervision
  • collect blood samples and perform diagnostic laboratory tests

Upon successful completion of the Veterinary Technology Associate in Science, students will be able to:

  • Effectively communicate with clients and veterinary staff.
  • Perform routine business transactions and maintain patient and facility records.
  • Ensure the safety of patients, clients, and staff and maintain compliance with regulatory agencies.
  • Identify common breeds of companion animals, list their nutritional requirements and husbandry needs, and describe the anatomy and functions of major body systems.
  • Assist with physical exams and obtain patient histories.
  • Perform routine nursing procedures including first-aid, wound-management, and administration of medications and vaccines.
  • Develop a working knowledge of common companion animal diseases and their medical treatments.
  • Collect biological samples and perform diagnostic laboratory tests.

Picture of the Anatomy LabQ: Will this program prepare me for vet school?

Although the Veterinary Assisting and Technology programs at Windward CC is excellent preparation for working in the veterinary industry, it is not a program designed to prepare you for applying to veterinary school.

Students with intent on obtaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) should contact the University of Hawaii Manoa Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program as well as prospective veterinary schools for individual admissions requirements. The University of Hawaii Manoa Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program includes information regarding preparation for veterinary school such as pre-veterinary advising, degree options, selecting coursework, how to apply for veterinary school admission, animal experience, financial considerations, tips for success, the pre-veterinary club, scholarships, resources and guides, and career opportunities as a veterinarian. In general, most veterinary schools require a 4-year B.S. or B.A. degree which should include specific prerequisite science and general education classes. UH Manoa and UH Hilo both offer a pre-veterinary specializations as part of their B.S. programs. For more information, please visit these links.

Hawaii does not have a veterinary school, but fortunately Hawaii is a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Professional Student Exchange Program (WICHE PSEP) which allows for a limited number of students to attend veterinary schools that are part of WICHE and pay in-state tuition. The veterinary schools that actively participate in the WICHE program are Washington State University, Oregon State University, and Colorado State University and Hawaii funds 3 students per year to attend these schools at in-state tuition rates. Students not selected by WICHE pay out-of-state tuition to these schools. Students that attend veterinary schools in non-WICHE states will pay out-of-state tuition. There are only 28 US veterinary schools and each has unique admission standards and requirements; therefore, students must consult information from each school they are planning to apply for admission. The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has on-line resources for all of the US accredited veterinary schools and provides information regarding the application process. The Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program at UH Manoa serves the entire UH System and encourages you to contact them for further information Additionally, you can contact the UH Manoa Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program advisor Dr. Ashley M. Stokes or located at 314G Agricultural Sciences, Manoa Campus.

Q: What courses do I need to take for the certificate?

The required courses for the certificate are:

Picture of a Vet Assistant student with a horseQ: What courses should I take for the first semester?

Students should work with a WCC counselor to determine which courses they should take.  If possible, new veterinary assisting students should enroll in the following courses for their first semester:

Q: What are the job prospects for veterinary assistants and technicians?

Veterinary technology is among the top five fastest-growing occupations nationwide, with employment in the field expected to grow 41% in the next nine years.  

The nationwide shortage of skilled veterinary office personnel has been widely discussed in academic and trade journals and has received attention in the national media.

CBS News recently featured veterinary technology as one of its fastest-growing “recession-proof” jobs.;photovideo

Picture of dog getting its nails clippedQ: What are the eligibility requirements for the program?

In order to participate in the program, you must be 18 years old by the first day of instruction and are required to show proof of current health insurance. 

Q: Whom should I contact if I am interested in the program?

If you are interested in the program, you should program coordinator  John Kaya, by email at or by phone at (808) 236-9107. You should also contact the Counseling and Advising Office.

If you are not already a UH/Windward CC student, you will also need to fill out an online application

Please note that the program has a limited capacity (25 students/year).  As a result, core classes (those with “ANSC”) usually fill very quickly.   To ensure admittance, you should fill out the system application at least 3 months before intended entry date.

Picture of dog being inspectedQ: How long does the program take?  

Full-time students (those taking 15/credits semester) can expect to complete the program in two semesters.   The actual time it takes you to complete the certificate will depend on class availability and the number of preparatory classes you are required to take.

Q: Is it possible to complete the program as a part-time student?

Yes.  Students may enroll in the program on a part-time basis.  It is recommended that part-time students enroll in a minimum of 9 credits/semester. 

Q: How much does the program cost?

Based on Fall 2013 tuition for full-time students (15 credits) is around $1,590 per semester for residents and $4,560 for non-residents.   Textbooks costs typically run $400-500 per semester.

Extimated cost for Veterinary Assisting Certificate of Achievement (assuming the certificate is finished in two semesters)

  • $4,180 for residents, $10,120 for non-resident students
  • included $100 per semester professional fee for two semesters (this fee is non-refundable)

Estimated cost for Veterinary Technology Associate in Science degree (assuming the degree is finished in three semesters and that the student already has finished the coursework for the Veterinary Assistant certificate)

  • $6,234 for residents, $13,956 for non-resident students
  • includes $300 per semester professional fee for three semesters (this fee is non-refundable)

For a list of tuition and fees, please visit

Picture showing a dog getting a needleQ: Will the program allow me to get a job in a veterinary clinic?

The veterinary assisting program is designed to let you obtain a position as an animal care specialist in a veterinary clinic or animal shelter.

Q: I live on a neighbor island.  Is it possible to complete a Vet Tech or Vet Assisting degree Online?

Although some of the classes can be taken online (ANSC 253, HLTH 125, PSY 100) others are only available as face-to-face classes.  If you live on a neighbor island, you may want to consider enrolling in one of the AVMA accredited Distance Learning Veterinary Technology Programs.  Please note that some of these programs have residency requirements.

Q:  Can I earn the Veterinary Assisting Certificate and an Associate in Arts (AA) degree at the same time?

Yes.  The majority of classes in the certificate can also be applied towards the AA degree. For more on the Associate in Arts Degee, please visit

OperationQ: Can I apply classes taken at other institutions towards the Certificate of Achievement in Veterinary Assisting?

Yes.   Many of the general education classes (e.g., ENG 100, PSY 100, SP 100, CHEM 151 & 151L, HLTH 125) will transfer from other UH campuses.   If you have credits from a non-UH campus, you should contact the Office of Academic Advising to see which ones will transfer.

Most of the core classes  (e.g., ANSC 142 & 142L, ANSC 151 & 151L, ANSC 190, BUSN 191 and MATH 101) were specifically designed for the certificate and are only offered only on the Windward CC campus.  Please note that in order to receive the certificate at least 15 credits must be taken at Windward CC.

Q: Is financial aid available?

Yes.  Students enrolled in the certificate classes can qualify for financial aid.  For more information, please visit

Q: I already work at a veterinary clinic.  Is it possible to satisfy the internship requirement by working at my current clinic?

As part of the ANSC 190 class, students will intern at 2 or 3 Oahu veterinary clinics for minimum of 40 hours.  Currently, over 20 Oahu clinics have been approved as internship locations.   To see if you clinic qualifies, please contact the program coordinator,  Ross Langston, by email at or by phone at (808) 236-9119.

Q: What textbooks are required? Where can I purchase them?

Required texts for core classes are listed below. These may be purchased through the Windard CC bookstore ( or at any major online retailer of textbooks (e.g.,  Students are advised to check with the course instructor to ensure that they are purchasing the correct edition of the text.



ISBN and Link to Amazon

ANSC 142 - Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals

Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians


ANSC 142L - Anatomy of Domestic Animals Laboratory

Clinical Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory for Veterinary Technicians


ANSC 151/151L - Clinical Laboratory Techniques & Laboratory

Laboratory Procedures for Veterinary Technicians


BUSN 191 - Veterinary Office and Computer Skills

McCurnin's Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians


HLTH 125 - Survey of Medical Terminology

Medical Terminology: A Word-Building Approach


MATH 101 - Mathematics for Veterinary Assisting

Medical Mathematics and Dosage Calculations for Veterinary Professionals



Picture of students

Q: How much do veterinary assistants and technicians make? 

Your hourly wage will depend on your training, level of experience and responsibilities within the clinic. Estimated starting wages are as follows:

  • No Training or Education: $7.25 to $8.00
  • Vet Assistant Graduate: $10.00 to $11.00
  • Vet Technician Graduate: $15 and higher

In general, veterinary technicians have the highest starting wage and greatest prospects for advancement within the practice.   Many practices also select experienced technicians to serve as veterinary hospital managers.  Their duties include hiring, training of new personnel, budgeting and inventory management. Practice managers can make $40,000-60,000 a year or more depending on experience and qualifications.

Q: How many veterinary clinics are there in Hawaii?

There are 90 veterinary clinics in the State of Hawaii.

  • Oahu: 53 clinics
  • Maui: 14 clinics
  • Hawaii: 18 clinics
  • Kauai: 5 clinics

There are also 25 mobile relief veterinarians.



page last updated: April 28, 2014

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