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Courses & Programs

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Got a question about HCC? Chat with us! 
M-F 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.


Jennifer York

Chair, Veterinary and Animal Science

Health Sciences

Marieb 243

413.552.2459 (Tel)

Veterinary & Animal Science

Passionate about animal care and interested in a healthcare profession dedicated to the well-being of animals?

A dog looks at the camera

With HCC's Veterinary & Animal Science Department, you can begin your career as a Veterinary Technician or Veterinary Assistant!

HCC offers a two-year program that results in an Associate of Applied Science degree with a Veterinary Technician option.  

HCC also offers a one-year, part-time Veterinary Assistant Certificate program.  

A Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) is trained to handle many of the same responsibilities that a Registered Nurse (RN) and other professionals perform for physicians. Veterinary technicians serve roles as anesthetists, surgical technicians, radiology technicians, medical laboratory technicians, and veterinary dental hygienists. Veterinary technicians employed in specialty practices may become technician specialists in a variety of disciplines such as anesthesiology, internal medicine, nutrition, ophthalmology, emergency and critical care, dentistry, and zoological medicine, among others. These veterinary technician specialists are often involved in teaching and training other veterinary technicians and assistants as well as veterinary medical students during their clinical rotations.

Veterinary assistants support the veterinarian and the veterinary technician in their provision of healthcare and are trained to perform multiple tasks under the supervision of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. The veterinary assistant is trained to assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians in the provision of preventative healthcare, in the collection and preparation of laboratory samples, in the restraint and handling of animals, in the feeding, exercise, and care of animals in the clinic, in keeping medical records, in client communication, and in the preparation of equipment and supplies for medical and surgical procedures. 

Both veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants can work in a variety of animal healthcare settings, including small animal clinical practices, equine or large animal facilities, in zoo or wildlife medicine, in laboratory animal medicine, or in veterinary referral hospitals and specialty practices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of both veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The logo for the CVTEA

Accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association since 1989

The Veterinary Technician program has selective admissions with one class admitted per year, beginning in the fall.

  • Complete BIO 107 (or approved equivalent course) with a grade of “C” or better
  • Obtain eligibility for MTH 104
  • Attend an online Veterinary Technician Program Information Session prior to applying. Contact Admissions or follow this link for information about these information sessions.
  • Submit all application materials to the Admissions office no later than February 1 for fall admission
  • Once accepted to the program, attend the mandatory Veterinary Technician Orientation in late August (date TBD)
  • Rabies vaccination is strongly recommended (but not required) and observation in a veterinary facility is also recommended (but not required) for admission

The Veterinary Assistant Certificate program has selective admissions with one class admitted per year, beginning in the fall.

  • Obtain eligibility for ENG 101
  • Submit all application materials to the Admissions office
  • Once accepted to the program, attend the required Veterinary Assistant Orientation in late August (date TBD)
  • Rabies vaccination is strongly recommended (but not required) and observation in a veterinary facility is also recommended (but not required) for admission

Only graduates of American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Veterinary Technician Education & Activities (CVTEA) accredited programs are eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) in order to become Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVTs). HCC’s Veterinary Technician Program has been accredited by the AVMA CVTEA since 1989. Graduates of HCC’s Veterinary Technician program are eligible to take the VTNE in order to become CVTs.

Hands-On Experience

On-campus experience is provided by the Veterinary Technician program’s public wellness and surgery clinics which offer wellness veterinary exams, spays, neuters, and dentistry to the public. Experience is gained on-campus working with dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, and rodents in courses in both of the department’s programs.

Hands-on experience is obtained off-campus during clinical externships at area small, large, and exotic animal hospitals and other clinical and laboratory facilities. The Veterinary Technician program and Veterinary Assistant program externships allow for valuable networking opportunities. Other off-campus experiences integrated into the Veterinary Technician program include hands-on experiences with horses, cattle, alpacas, donkeys, and sheep, and in laboratory animal medicine.

Outside of the Veterinary & Animal Science Department’s valuable opportunities for hands-on experience, the department offers state-of-the-art experiences with animal models and simulations of clinical situations. These cutting edge technologies offer students the ability to obtain valuable practice on realistic animal models before they enter the hands-on situations, including practice with dentistry and dental radiography, endotracheal intubation, IV catheterization, and veterinary CPR.

University of Massachusetts Bachelor’s of Science Pathway

After obtaining an Associate’s degree from HCC, graduates can apply for transfer to the Veterinary Technology program at UMass in order to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. While a Bachelor’s degree is not necessary in order to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), this pathway affords interested Veterinary Technician program graduates the opportunity to complete a Bachelor’s degree at the UMass Amherst campus after they graduate from HCC.

Veterinary Assistant Program OnLine Coursework

While a weekly on-campus laboratory is required for HCC’s Veterinary Assistant Certificate Program, the lectures are offered entirely online in order to accommodate the busy schedules of those completing the Veterinary Assistant Certificate program.

Veterinary Technician Student Handbook

Click here to access the Vet Tech Student Handbook.

Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE)

Upon completing the A.S. degree in Veterinary & Animal Science, the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) may be taken to become a credentialed veterinary technician.

Over the past three years (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019), the HCC pass rate for first-time candidates taking the VTNE was 75%. Graduates are encouraged to take the VTNE immediately upon graduation. There were 78 HCC Veterinary Technician Program graduates between 2016 and 2019 who were eligible to take the VTNE. There were 24 HCC first-time candidates who took the VTNE during this time period.

July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019
Number of eligible first-time candidates 78
Number of first-time graduates completing the VTNE 24
Three-year VTNE pass percentage 75%

Jennifer York sitting on a front porch with a small dog sitting on her lapJennifer York
Chair of the Veterinary & Animal Science Department


Dr. Jennifer York is the Chair of the Veterinary & Animal Science Department at HCC. Dr. York graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management from Pennsylvania State University in 1995. After serving in the Peace Corps, she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 2004. After graduation from veterinary school, she completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center, Western New England. She has worked both in small animal clinical practice and shelter medicine. She has interests in wildlife medicine, shelter and community medicine, and high-quality, high-volume spay and neuter. She is a Recover Certified Veterinary CPR instructor.  

Dr. York lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, James, and their kids, Toby and Nora. She loves spending time with her dog Happy, her cats Weeble and Charlotte, and all of the kids' gerbils (Rose, Dot, Chip, and Peanut Butter). In Dr. York's spare time, she enjoys distance running.   

Feel free to reach out to her at any time if you have any questions about the programs of the Veterinary & Animal Science department at HCC!

Elizabeth (Betsy) O'Brien-Means, VMD
Full Professor, Veterinary & Animal Science Department 

Dr. O'Brien-Means graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst "in absentia" with a BS degree in Veterinary & Animal Science/Honors. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1977. She is a member of the Honor Society of Veterinary Medicine. She practiced small animal medicine from 1977 until her retirement from practice in 2018. As a federally accredited veterinarian she has worked with large animals to perform brucellosis and tuberculosis testing. She joined the Veterinary Technician Program at HCC in 1983 and served as Department Chair from 1984 – 2003. She enjoys flea markets, cooking, and gardening.

Patricia Lepore, MBA, CVT
Program Veterinary Technician, Veterinary & Animal Science Department

Patty Lepore is HCC's Department of Veterinary & Animal Science Certified Veterinary Technician. Patty has two Associate's Degrees, a Bachelor of Science degree, and an MBA. She is also a veteran of the armed forces. She graduated with a degree in Animal Science from HCC's Veterinary Technician program in 1999, where she was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.  She brings a wide variety of clinical, emergency, and shelter experience to the HCC Veterinary and Animal Science Department. Patty has worked at HCC since 2005. She enjoys walks in nature and loves her alone time with her cats.

Erin Jackson stands in front of a Christmas tree holding a cat in her armsErin Jackson, M.Ed, CVT
Adjunct Instructor and Veterinary Assistant Program Coordinator, Veterinary & Animal Science Department 

Erin Jackson is an instructor with HCC's Veterinary Technician program and also is the program coordinator for HCC's Veterinary Assistant program. Erin joined Holyoke Community College as faculty in the fall of 2015. Erin graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2000 with a Bachelor Degree in Animal Science. Upon graduation, she began working as a Veterinary Assistant at Bolton Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut. Through her work at Bolton she moved onto Technicians duties and passed the VTNE in 2005 to become a Certified Veterinary Technician. She continues to work at the practice as a Technician and Outpatient Supervisor. Erin moved on to obtain her Masters Degree in Adult Education from Colorado State University in 2017. Teaching at HCC inspired her to further her own education to benefit her Vet Tech Students.

Erin lives in Connecticut with her husband Chris and daughter Gabrielle. Her household of critters include a multitude of cats, guinea pigs, and chickens along with her dog Chase who can also be found frequently attending class, helping to educate the students. Erin spends her free time at the barn riding horses, which has been her lifelong passion.

  • Two vet tech students with a dog

    paws-on learning

    You will learn state-of-the-art veterinary care techniques – and practice some of them with our very own furry friends.

  • A black and white dog sniff a student's hand

    passion to career

    Turn your passion for helping animals into a lucrative career. 

  • A student looks over an animal skeleton

    the anatomy of your future

    Veterinary medicine, like medicine for humans, has become radically more sophisticated in the past fifty years. There is an increased need for educated and skilled veterinary technicians to assist the practicing clinician, particularly in specialty/referral centers and emergency/critical care facilities.

  • A brown dog has a cast applied to its foot

    that's a wrap!

    HCC's vet tech program provides the complete foundation you need to start a new job as a veterinary technician.

ask a question

Got a question about HCC? Chat with us! 
M-F 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.


Jennifer York

Chair, Veterinary and Animal Science

Health Sciences

Marieb 243

413.552.2459 (Tel)