Courses & Programs

Jennifer York

Chair, Veterinary and Animal Science

Health Sciences & Culinary Arts

Marieb 231

413.552.2459 (Tel)

Veterinary & Animal Science

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

Vet tech students examine a dog who is lying prone on an examination table

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 alongside physicians. Veterinary technicians serve roles as animal 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

HCC's Vet Tech Program has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association since 1989

NAVTA Approved Veterinary Assistants logo

HCC's Vet Assistant Program is approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

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

  • Obtain eligibility for MTH 104 (can be taken in the spring or summer prior to fall program start)
  • Attend an online Health Career Programs Info Session within one year of the application deadline. Contact admissions or follow this link for more information.
  • Submit all application materials to the admissions office no later than Feb. 1 for fall admission
  • Once accepted to the program, attend the mandatory Veterinary Technician Orientation in late August (date TBD)
  • Complete BIO 107 (or approved equivalent course) with a grade of "C" or better.
  • Once accepted into the program, submit proof of rabies vaccination, tetanus vaccination, and health insurance coverage prior to the start of classes.  Rabies vaccination, tetanus vaccination, health insurance coverage, a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check and Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI) check are required in order to participate in the Veterinary Technician program.
  • Observation in a veterinary facility is recommended (but not required) for admission

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

  • Attend an info session within one year of application deadline
  • Obtain eligibility for ENG 101 (can be taken in the spring or summer prior to fall program start)
  • Attend an online Health Career Programs Information Session within one year of the application deadline. Contact Admissions or follow this link for information about these information sessions.
  • 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

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


HCC's Veterinary Assistant Certificate Program has been approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).  Only graduates of approved programs are eligible to take the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) exam in order to become Approved Veterinary Assistants (AVAs). Graduates of HCC's Veterinary Assistant Certificate program are eligible to take the AVA exam in order to become AVAs. 


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. 

July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2023
Three-year VTNE pass percentage 48.48%

Note: Graduates from HCC with an A.S. degree in Veterinary & Animal Science with the Veterinary Technician option are credentialed to work in the state of Massachusetts upon the successful completion of the VTNE and attainment of the appropriate state certification. If a graduate intends to practice outside of MA, they must ensure that they have met the credentialing requirements of the state in which they wish to practice. Students are encouraged to review the AAVSB website for more information on state-specific requirements. Applicants and students are encouraged to discuss their ability for licensure and work in another state other than MA with the Chair of the Department of Veterinary & Animal Sciences if they have additional questions.


Students gain experience working in on-campus public wellness and surgery clinics which offer wellness veterinary exams, spays, neuters, and dentistry to the public, as well as through coursework on-campus that includes working with dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, and rodents. 

Both the Veterinary Technician program and Veterinary Assistant program offer externships that allow for valuable networking opportunities and hands-on experience at area small, large, and exotic animal hospitals and other clinical and laboratory facilities.  Other off-campus experiences integrated into the curriculum include visits to gain hands-on experience 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.


After obtaining the Veterinary Technician Associate's (A.S.) degree from HCC, graduates can apply for transfer to the Veterinary Technology program at UMass in order to obtain a Bachelor's (B.S.) degree. 

While a B.S. degree is not necessary in order to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), the A2B pathway affords interested Veterinary Technician program graduates the opportunity to complete a B.S. degree at the UMass Amherst campus after they graduate with their A.S. degree from HCC, potentially completing both degrees in a total of 4 years.

Since this A2B degree is part of the MassTransfer program, students can apply using the MassTransfer Application with no application fee, can apply for scholarships, and can potentially receive additional MassTransfer benefits including a tuition credit!


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.


Click here to access the Veterinary Technician Student Handbook.

Click here to access the Veterinary Assistant Student Handbook.

Jennifer York sitting on a front porch with a small dog sitting on her lapJennifer York
Associate Professor and 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 and her cats Weeble and Charlotte. 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!

Joshua Hatch, white male with short dark hair and grey shirtJoshua Hatch, DVM
Assistant Professor, Veterinary & Animal Science Department 

Dr. Hatch earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, Massachusetts, and a Bachelors of Science degree in Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is a licensed veterinarian who has experience in many aspects of the animal health field.

Dr. Hatch has worked as a private small animal veterinarian in both large and small practices in both Rhode Island and Florida for over a decade. He was previously the staff veterinarian and lead instructor for surgery and anesthesia courses at a veterinary technician program at the Heritage Institute in Fort Myers, Florida, and also served as faculty in Becker College's Veterinary Technician program in Leicester, Massachusetts. Dr. Hatch has worked in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry addressing the need for more FDA-approved products to help alleviate post-surgical pain in small animals. He is passionate about the interconnected aspects of human and animal health and in how developing technologies will continue to influence veterinary medicine, animal care, and the roles our staff will play in the future of the field. 

Gold dog with white chest in field of black-eyed susansChristine O'Neill, CVT, BSN
Program Veterinary Technician, Veterinary & Animal Science Department

Christine O'Neill is HCC's Department of Veterinary & Animal Science Certified Veterinary Technician. Christine is a graduate of the HCC Veterinary Technician Program.  She also has a B.S. in Nursing from the College of Our Lady of the Elms and is a Registered Nurse.  Christine served as a clinical instructor in Becker College's Veterinary Technician program beginning in 2012.  She has volunteer experience working in wildlife rehabilitation and in shelter medicine. She brings a wealth of experience from human healthcare, animal healthcare, and the vet tech education field to HCC's Vet & Animal Science Department. Her family consists of her, her husband, their menagerie of cats, and her much loved rescue dog, Hannah, who is pictured above, and who you may see on campus from time to time.

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.

Jennifer York

Chair, Veterinary and Animal Science

Health Sciences & Culinary Arts

Marieb 231

413.552.2459 (Tel)