Veterinary Technician Degree

Mistreating your pet is punishable by a fine, jail time or even a ban from owning a pet in future. This is according to all the state, federal and local laws in the United States. Now mistreating or cruelty towards an animal may have its degrees. From malnourishment to willful cruelty may be obvious red flags; however, ignoring the health of your pet is also a crime. This is where veterinary technicians come in.
According to O*NET OnLine, 85,000 veterinary technologists and technicians were employed in the United States in 2012. The same source further states that over the next few years, the demand for these professionals is expected to increase by 22%. This percentage is higher than the average of all other professions.

University of Southern California

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There are a couple of reasons for the employment prospects for these professionals to increase. Just to mention a few:

  • Increased use of pet insurance by pet owners. This means more medical procedures
  • Increased awareness of pet related laws
  • Increased interest in veterinary jobs especially after the positive employment outlook confirmed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Now the questions prospective students may want to know would be who these professionals are, what they do, where do they work, how to become one and how much do they earn.
Here are the answers to all these questions.

Veterinary Technicians or Technologists - Is there a Difference?   

Yes. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a veterinary technician holds a two year associate degree from an accredited community college. While a veterinary technologist has a four year bachelor’s degree from an AVMA approved college. The difference is the education in both these titles. However, the tasks they are required to perform are somewhat the same with the veterinary technologists having a brighter future outlook due to the extra two years spent studying.
Veterinary technicians sometimes referred to as ‘vet techs’, are healthcare professionals who provide care to sick and injured animals. These professionals assist veterinarians with lab work, surgical procedures, treatment and diagnosis and office management. To become a veterinary technician, students need to be qualified and must be licensed to practice.  

What They Do?

A typical day for a veterinary technician includes a combination of tasks. These range from nursing and lab work to imaging and customer service. Mentioned below are some of the tasks you will be required to perform.

  • Provide nursing care and first aid
  • Assist during examinations and procedures
  • Help perform diagnostic tests. These include urinalysis, X Ray and blood counts
  • Perform routine tasks such as cleaning and immunizations
  • Make preparations for surgery and monitor conditions of patients
  • Educate and inform pet owners about animal care
  •  Collect and maintain records

It is important to note that these are just some of the basic tasks veterinary technicians perform. The job description in this case will depend on the employer and the location.

Where Do Veterinary Technicians Work?

These professionals have a choice of working in different settings. These include:
Zoos – Along with in-house veterinarians, these professionals provide both routine and emergency care to animals.
Animal Shelters – As shelters see all kinds of abandoned and injured animals, these professionals are necessary to provide care and medical assistance.
Research Labs – As animals are used for research purposes, these professionals stay on site to make sure they are cared for.
Animal Hospitals – In this setting, veterinary technicians may be required to work irregular hours.
Private Veterinary Clinics – A huge majority work in private clinics. Veterinarians cannot function without the help of veterinarian technicians. 

How to Become One?

Now to answer the most important question: How do you become a veterinary technician?
Before enrollment, students must check if the program is accredited by the AVMA. Once confirmed, students can look into veterinary science or animal care programs. The associate or certificate program typically takes two years to complete. However, this usually depends on the program and school. For some institutes prior knowledge in chemistry, microbiology, biology may be necessary. Some of the courses included in the Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology Studies are mentioned below:

  • Animal Behavior, Nutrition and Diseases
  • Laboratory Animal Management
  • Administrative Veterinary Procedures
  • Microbiology for Veterinary Techs
  • Animal Anatomy and Physiology

In addition to these courses, students get hands on training. This includes working with patients and performing laboratory procedures under supervision.

After completing the associate program, students are required to get a license or be certified to legally work as a veterinary technician. Most of the states require veterinary technicians to be certified. Students must check if their state has such requirements. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) conducts the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). And those who are interested in working in research can do so with the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS).

How Much Do They Earn?

According to O*NET OnLine, veterinary technicians earned a median annual wage of around $31,070 in 2014. This makes it up to around $14.94 per hour. Texas happens to be the top state with most veterinary technician jobs, followed closely by California and Florida. Now that you know how to become a veterinary technician, the question remains – what does it take to become a veterinary technician? Here are some of the qualities you must have if you are thinking about pursuing this career.
Compassion – You must be compassionate; considerate of the pet owners’ feelings and kind towards the animals.
Detail Oriented – Animals can’t speak. It is the responsibility of the treating physician to keep an eye on the minutest of details.
Steady Hands – Veterinary technicians must have steady hands as they will be administering anesthesia, taking x rays, etc.
Communication & Problem Solving Skills - Veterinary technicians must be clear and coherent in their communication and should be able to devise solutions to complex problems.
Love Animals - This is a given. Do not pursue this degree if you don’t like animals. Reason? Your main job as a veterinary technician will be working with animals every day.


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Q:Can you get a veterinary technician online degree?

A:Yes, you can pursue an online degree in this field. However, due to the significant practical elements which form an integral part of veterinary technician degrees, the format of the program may be hybrid and not 100% online. Certain hybrid programs deliver all lectures online and require students to complete the practical elements of the program on-campus. Just make sure the program you are considering is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)or the National Association of Veterinary Technology in America (NAVTA).

Q:What important topics are covered in online veterinary technician programs?

A:The coursework of an online veterinary technician program may vary from place to place. However, the curriculum is expected to cover topics such as radiology, anesthesia, client education, post-surgery care, research, biomedical research, and more. The purpose of the program is to equip students with skills needed for veterinary care practice.

Q:What do I need to enroll in veterinary technician online programs?

A:The admission requirements will vary from place to place. You will need at least a high school diploma of GED to enroll, with sufficient grades in basic science subjects. To study online, you will also need a computer or laptop, and an internet connection which is reliable. The course is covered online via tutorials, videos, conferencing, and online lectures.

Q:Can you name a few elective courses typically offered in a veterinary technician bachelor degree?

A:A veterinary technician bachelor degree's curriculum will entail general courses, electives, and specializations courses. Usually, the following elective courses are offered: integrative veterinary nursing, hospital management, veterinary hospital marketing, finance for the veterinary manager, understanding human-animal bond, advanced veterinary behavior, large animal nursing, legal and ethical issues in veterinary technology.

Q:How long does it take complete an associate degree in veterinary technician?

A:It can take around two years to complete an associate degree in veterinary technology. Students must complete all the course requirements in the two year time period. This may include completion classroom coursework, practical training, research and projects, and course assignments. Those looking for a shorter route can opt for an accelerated program.

Q:What is a veterinary technician certification?

A:Different states have set up their own board for veterinary certification. You can choose from different certifications, depending on the career you want to pursue. The education and training requirements may vary for each certification. It is recommended you get more information from you state's veterinary certification or licensing board.

Q:I have a Veterinary Technician Associates degree. Is there any online school that offers Veterinary Practice Management degree programs?

A:Yes, there are a number of schools offering Veterinary Practice Management programs. These programs are typically for veterinary technicians and technologists who wish to seek a competitive advantage and take their career to the next level. The program will focus on strategy building, business profitability, management and finance. It is also possible to pursue Veterinary Practice Management degree programs online. The coursework is typically covered through videos, online lectures, tutorials, and classroom conferencing.

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