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School of Health and Life Sciences

Veterinary Medical Assistant

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The location where your NAIT courses will be held.


The type of certification (degree, diploma, certificate) you will earn after completing your program.

  • Degree - NAIT offers a number of business degrees and applied science and technology degrees accredited by Alberta Advanced Education.
    Applied degree programs offer a stronger emphasis on practical applications of the concepts learned in the classroom
  • Diplomas & Certificates - These credit programs take 1 or 2 years and lead to government approved and industry-recognized credentials.
  • Journeyman Certificate - Hands-on and expert-led apprenticeship and industry training for skilled trades and technology professionals.
  • Continuing Education/Non-Credit - NAIT offers a wide range of non-credit programs and courses for personal and professional development in a number of interesting and exciting fields. These options are great for people who may be working but are interested in studying as well.

Delivery Options

The flexible schedule options for this course including time of day and full/part-time.

  • Day - Courses taking place between Monday - Friday, before 5 PM.
  • Evening/Weekend - Courses taking place on weekdays from 5 PM or later, or Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Online - Sometimes called "Home Study" or "Computer-Based Learning"
  • Distance - Traditional correspondence format. These courses work best if you can't get to a campus or if your schedule can't accommodate fixed class times


The average or expected time it will take to complete your program.

Open Studies

Open Studies allows you to explore credit courses without applying to a program.
It is an opportunity to get a feel for school and what program you want to be in.

International Students

Program availability may be limited for international applicants. Contact your student advisor for more information.

Advanced Credit

You may apply for advanced credit once you have been accepted into the program. Advanced Credit can be Transfer Credit (for completed post-secondary courses) or PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition).

Transfer Credit

In addition to the common guidelines outlined on the Transfer and Credit Options section and on the Transfer Credit Request Form (PDF), your program has other advanced credit requirements that are applied to each request including:

  • You must have completed the course or program no more than 5 year(s) ago unless a formalized articulation agreement is in place
  • You must have a minimum mark of C in the course(s) or program

Prior Learning and Assessment Recognition (PLAR)

If you do not qualify for transfer credit or credential recognition, Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) may be an option.

Contact the program for additional information about Advanced Credit.

Veterinary medical assistants provide support to both animal health technologists and veterinarians in handling administrative duties, basic animal handling, and administering pharmaceutical and nutritional products. They also assist with record keeping, labelling and other clinical procedures and tasks.

This 1-year certificate program will provide you the skills and confidence you’ll need to work in a front-line position as a veterinary medical assistant in private veterinary clinics, livestock centres and animal shelters. In addition to classroom instruction, you’ll get in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in animal clinics across Alberta.

Employment rates reported by NAIT alumni are for information purposes and do not guarantee future employment opportunities.

Salaries reported by NAIT alumni are for information purposes and are not a guarantee of future alumni income.

Hands-on, industry-relevant training 

To work as a veterinary medical assistant, you will need to have a genuine interest in animals and their welfare. It’s important to understand that you will need to be comfortable working with a variety of animals, both large and small.

After a year of classroom instruction, your clinical placement will give you hands-on experience at an animal clinic where you’ll get a taste of what your future career could look like. Travel may be necessary as some placements are outside of Edmonton.

You will also regularly support the animal health technologists at the NAIT Animal Clinic. 

As a student in the program, you can expect to spend on average:

  • 26 hours per week attending classes over the course of a semester 
  • 15 to 20 hours per week studying and completing class assignments

Enter the workforce with confidence 

After just 1 year of study in NAIT’s Veterinary Medical Assistant program, you’ll be ready for a fast-paced career in which you will assist veterinarians and animal health professionals with a wide variety of front line tasks. From veterinary clinics to animal shelters, your certificate will allow you to work across the country.

Completion of this certificate may qualify you for advanced credit towards ANBH 1160 and MRMG 1170 in NAIT’s Animal Health Technology diploma program.

Have questions? We've got answers

If you’re looking for more information or have a question about the Veterinary Medical Assistant program, we can help.

Our program advisors are here to answer your questions.

Email: vma@nait.ca

  • Tel: 780.471.8922




View courses for this program

Tuition & Fees

Get an estimate on cost to attend

How to Apply

Information on admissions process

Scholarships & Awards

Funding for students in this program

Term 1

ANBH1160Animal Handling and Behaviour
  • Requisites: This course is available to Open Studies students. Although not required, successful completion of English 30-1 or 30-2 or equivalent(s) is recommended prior to taking this course.
  • Course Equivalencies: AHT160
  • Open Studies: Available

Students learn safe animal handling techniques of common small and large animals. Students will be able to interpret and explain normal and problem behaviour in patients as well as explain the human animal bond and its' importance in veterinary medicine. Breed and colour recognition is also a part of this course.

MRMG1170Medical Records Management
  • Open Studies: Available

Students will learn to complete veterinary medical records for continuity of patient care, documenting client communication and complying with legislated requirements. Students will use veterinary software to assist in documenting patient care using medical records, organize workplace appointments and schedules and maintain veterinary patient records and documents.

VTMA1112Technical Assisting
  • Requisites: This course is available to students in the Veterinary Medical Assistant program. Co-requisites: ANBH1160.
  • Course Equivalencies: VMA112
  • Open Studies: Not Available

Students learn and practice skills that are used in daily veterinary practice. These skills center around a supportive role in caring for animal patients including preparing for surgical and medical procedures and following cleaning, disinfection, safety, and biosecurity protocols to maintain a veterinary facility.

VTMA1141Written Communication
  • Requisites: This course is available to Open Studies students. Although not required, successful completion of English 30-1 or 30-2 or equivalent(s) is recommended prior to taking this course.
  • Course Equivalencies: OA114
  • Open Studies: Available

Students learn and practice written communication skills to support quality business practices. Students compose and revise documents, business letters, and reports as well as learn to develop and write effective business messages using appropriate word processing and spreadsheet software.

VTMA1161Fundamental Anatomy and Pathophysiology
  • Requisites: This course is available to Open Studies students. Although not required, successful completion of English 30-1 or 30-2 or equivalent(s) is recommended prior to taking this course.
  • Course Equivalencies: VMA161
  • Open Studies: Available

Students will develop their vocabulary and comprehension of veterinary-related terminology and gain a basic foundation in anatomical terms, abbreviations and animal structures. This course covers material from three separate sciences: anatomy, physiology and pathology.

VTMA1231Veterinary Nutritional Products
  • Open Studies: Available

Students will be able to discuss companion and large animal nutritional products, veterinary, and prescription diets with clients.

Term 2

IPAE1201Client Support and Communication
  • Requisites: This course is available to students in the Animal Health Technology program or the Veterinary Medical Assistant.
  • Open Studies: Not Available

Through interprofessional education, this course will use students’ knowledge of their own role and the role of others to achieve patient and client goals. This course will emphasize communication with other professions in a collaborative, responsive and responsible manner. This course has a professional experience component that allows the students to apply their skills in a variety of workplace experiences and locations.

VTMA1206Applied Veterinary Procedures
  • Requisites: This course is available to students in the Veterinary Medical Assistant program. Prerequisites: VTMA1112, VTMA1161, ANBH1160, MRMG1170. A completion grade of C- in all prerequisite courses is required to enroll.
  • Course Equivalencies: VMA206
  • Open Studies: Not Available

This is a hands-on course that provides practical experience so students learn to work safely with companion (pets) and large (livestock) animals. Students will assist in routine pet wellness care, surgical preparation, post-surgical clean-up and follow radiology safety protocols when assisting with positioning patients during diagnostic imaging.

VTMA1232Veterinary Pharmaceutical Products
  • Requisites: It is recommended that students have completed the following courses or are enrolled in them at the same time: MRMG 1170, VTMA 1161, VTMA 1112
  • Open Studies: Available

Students learn to recognize the difference between over-the-counter (OTC), prescription, and controlled veterinary products to assist clients and the veterinary team with pet and livestock medications. Students will learn to organize inventory by ordering, receiving and storing veterinary products and supplies.

VTMA1260Common Animal Diseases and Emergencies
  • Requisites: Prerequisite: VTMA1161. A completion grade of C- in all prerequisites is required to enroll.
  • Course Equivalencies: VMA260
  • Open Studies: Not Available

Students will explore general concepts of animal disease transmission and prevention. Students learn to identify symptoms that might indicate an emergency, non-infectious disease/illness, or infectious disease to assist in the scheduling and caring for animal patients. The student will learn to adapt clinic protocols to safely handle animals with possibly contagious diseases to protect patient and facility health.

VTMA1290Clinical Experience/Practicum
  • Requisites: This course is available to students in the VMA program. Prerequisites: MRMG1170, VTMA1141, VTMA1161, VTMA1112, ANBH1160, VTMA1231, VTMA1232, IPAE1201, VTMA1260, VTMA1206. A completion grade of C- in all prerequisites is required to enroll.
  • Course Equivalencies: VMA270
  • Open Studies: Not Available

The clinical experience/practicum is designed to provide an opportunity for students to gain practical real life experience in client relations and care, patient care through technical assisting, administrative assistance and other aspects of veterinary medical assisting. Clinical experience is completed at a veterinary clinic or approved related facility to allow students to interact with the clients and the veterinary team using professional communication and critical thinking skills. This is the final component of the VMA program.


Cost Per Credit: $150
Tuition Cap: $1,883

Tuition for International Students

Cost Per Credit: $473
Tuition Cap: $5,931

Mandatory Fees

NAITSA: $129
U-Pass: $175
Health & Dental: $128
Rec. & Athletics: $70

Pay Your Tuition & Fees
How much will first year cost?

Books, Supplies & Program Fees (est.)

Level 1 Term 1: $1,200
Level 1 Term 2: $250

Dates & Deadlines

We recommend submitting your program application at least 90 days before the application deadline.

Application Deadline: Sep 03, 2019

Term Start Date: Sep 03, 2019

Program Availability Status:  

Domestic Applicants: WL
International Applicants: WL

Entrance Requirements

Competitive Entrance Requirements:

Biology 30

Note: Competitive entrance requirements are determined by the program area and are subject to change without notice.

Additional Requirements and Considerations

Immunization Requirements: It is recommended that students have immunization against tetanus and diphtheria. Students are required to have rabies immunization prior to on-campus animal labs. Rabies immunization will be arranged through NAIT, and students will receive further information on immunization requirements prior to the program start date.

Computer Literacy: Students must have basic computer literacy, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, Internet, and email.

Additional Requirements and Information: Any prospective students with back, arm, shoulder, wrist or neck problems or significant health challenges should consider their options carefully before applying and are advised to consult with the program.

Apply to Program

Apply to the program with step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application process. Please note, processing time may vary for applicants, so we recommend starting early.

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Open Studies

A great option to get started or take a few courses without committing to a full program. Learn more

International Students

This program is open to international applicants. For more detailed information about applying, visit our admissions page. Learn more


Term Definition
Open Program still has seats available.
Waitlisting Program is full and qualified applicants are being placed on a waitlist. For information about waitlists, please visit the Waitlist FAQs.

If you’re on a non-competitive waitlist, you should consider NAIT’s Academic Upgrading program or NAIT Equivalency Tests to become a more competitive applicant.

There is no guarantee that waitlisted applicants will be offered a seat, however it is common for seats to become available until the start of class. As seats become available, they are filled from the waitlist.
Closed Program is no longer accepting applications.
N/A Not available for this term.

*Program availabilty is subject to change without notice.

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