Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians with medical tests, surgeries, and other routine services. While veterinarians must complete a doctorate in veterinary medicine, technicians typically earn a two-year degree or certificate in veterinary technology.
The best veterinary technology degrees are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Programs include general coursework in the life sciences, animal husbandry, and veterinary pharmacology.
Veterinary technicians must meet the requirements for licensure in their state. Technicians also need to stay up to date with advancements in the field. The profession requires patience, since technicians engage directly with sick or injured animals. Jobs for veterinary technicians continue to grow much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The following article provides a general overview of the field and ranks the best veterinary technology degrees.
Technicians can earn a degree in two years. Technologists generally need four years of study to qualify for licensure.
Technicians in most states must meet AVMA’s licensure requirements. This includes specific coursework and an exam.
Technicians work in private veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, laboratories, and university research facilities.
Veterinarians must complete a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Veterinary technicians only need a two-year degree to qualify for most jobs.
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Career and Salary Outlook for Veterinary Technicians
Veterinary technicians and technologists may follow many career paths. Many work in private veterinary clinics or animal hospitals. Others assist researchers in private laboratories or at university research facilities. Technicians and technologists conduct tests, prepare animals for surgical procedures, and administer medication. Some specialize in areas such as dentistry, anesthesia, or zoological medicine.
The BLS projects strong growth for vet techs from 2019-2029. Pay for veterinary technicians varies by location, experience, and specialty. Technicians who work in research positions earn more than those in clinical positions.
|Career||Top 10%||Median Annual Salary||Bottom 10%|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||Less than $24,530||$35,320||More than $51,230|
Prospective vet tech students should make sure to attend an accredited school. Top schools hold regional accreditation. This designation comes from credible organizations such as the Higher Learning Commission.
The best veterinary technology programs also hold accreditation from AVMA. This organization makes sure veterinary professionals gain the proper skills. AVMA also ensures that technicians stay current in the field through continuing education.
The best veterinary technology programs hold accreditation from AVMA. This organization maintains standards for veterinary professions to ensure that technicians gain the proper skills. AVMA also ensures that technicians stay current in the field through continuing education.
Veterinary Technician Certification
Individual state regulations vary. Still, each state requires vet techs to gain licensure or certification. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards oversees this certification process. The association verifies that candidates complete AVMA-accredited programs. Certification establishes that a technician can practice their profession.
Most candidates also need to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) to qualify for a job in the field. This exam covers animal care and nursing, anesthesia, and laboratory procedures.
Courses in a Veterinary Technology Program
Most vet tech programs entail classes in anatomy, physiology, and chemistry. They also offer specialized courses. Specialized subjects include veterinary dentistry, pharmacology, and animal husbandry.
Learners study basic medical services, like administering anesthesia or conducting diagnostic testing. Classes teach students to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to medical situations. Coursework teaches learners to use common veterinary technologies such as X-ray machines.
The courses below are a sample of those offered in veterinary technology programs.
- Veterinary Pharmacology
- This course covers the development and use of various drugs in veterinary medicine. It prepares technicians to understand antibiotics, antiseptics, and other common veterinary drugs. This course is especially useful, since technicians must administer medications in clinical settings.
- Introduction to Veterinary Technology
- Most veterinary technology programs offer an introductory course that surveys the field. The class focuses on key terminology in veterinary medicine. Learners study basic aspects of animal reproduction. They also explore animal husbandry and behavior and preventative care. The course also teaches students the history of the field.
- Veterinary Anesthesiology
- Many of the best veterinary technology degrees include a course on anesthesiology. This class helps students understand how practitioners administer anesthesia to animals. The course also teaches students how to operate common anesthetic technologies.
- Veterinary Dentistry
- In this course, students learn the key components of veterinary dental care. They study preventative strategies and learn how to identify common dental problems. The class also prepares technicians to assist veterinarians with dental surgeries. Dentistry courses often focus primarily on small and companion animals.
- Veterinary Clinical Experience
- Veterinary technology programs must incorporate at least one clinical experience. This is necessary to meet AVMA’s accreditation standards. To meet this requirement, students may work in a research laboratory . They may also intern at a private clinic. Learners may also work at an animal hospital. Clinical experiences prepare students to take on the various responsibilities of the profession. Many schools ask for more than one clinical experience.
Veterinary technology students may qualify for several scholarships. Major organizations like the American Kennel Club sponsor these opportunities. Such scholarships provide support for students enrolled in AVMA-accredited programs. Students may seek additional scholarships from their school.
Who Can Apply: The International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories sponsors this scholarship. Vet tech students in their second year of an AVMA-accredited program may apply. Applicants must submit a 250-300 word essay.
Who Can Apply: The American Kennel Club and The Hartz Mountain Corporation co-sponsor this scholarship. It awards funds to students enrolled in AVMA-accredited programs. The organizations evaluate applicants based on academic achievement and extracurricular activity.
Amount: $1,000 or $2,000
Who Can Apply: Oxbow Animal Health offers scholarships to veterinary technology students. Candidates must show a strong interest in small or exotic animals. Students submit a resume and one recommendation letter. They must study at an AVMA-accredited program.
Who Can Apply: The Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP) offers this scholarship. This award serves students enrolled in various health professions, including veterinary medicine. Students enrolled at any ASAHP member school may apply. Students of any academic level may apply.
Best Veterinary Tech Programs 2021
The following rankings highlight 5 of the best veterinary technology degrees.
Located in Dayton, Ohio, Sinclair offers an associate degree in veterinary technology. The program prepares students for careers in animal clinics, laboratories, zoos, and shelters. The 65-credit curriculum includes classes in animal anatomy and physiology, veterinary pharmacology, and large animal husbandry.
Learners explore various career options during introductory coursework, and most students earn the degree in five semesters. Degree-seekers complete multiple clinical experiences and develop practical skills during placements in veterinary hospitals. Enrollees accumulate more than 500 hours of hands-on experience. Graduates qualify to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam. Applicants need a minimum 2.7 GPA. Candidates must submit recommendation letters, a resume, and an essay.
Sinclair Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
CNM offers an associate in veterinary technology program on its main campus in Albuquerque. The program prepares students for positions in veterinary healthcare. Most students graduate in five semesters.
Learners begin with coursework in the life sciences to prepare for specialized classes. Students explore topics including radiology for veterinary technicians and applied therapeutics for large and exotic animals. Learners also complete a series of clinical experiences. Graduates of the veterinary technology program qualify to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam.
Students must stay in good physical health and must feel comfortable lifting animals of up to 50 pounds. CNM maintains an articulation agreement with the University of New Mexico, simplifying the transfer process for students who want to pursue further education in veterinary medicine.
Central New Mexico Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Located in Miami, Florida, MDC offers an associate in veterinary technology degree that prepares students for a variety of veterinary healthcare careers. Graduates can work in clinics, zoos, and research centers.
The 73-credit curriculum includes coursework in veterinary pathology, lab procedures, and animal nursing skills. Students can also take specialized courses in fields such as avian and exotic pet medicine. Students in MDC's veterinary technology program complete some classes online, and they obtain more than 400 hours of clinical experience.
Most students complete the program in about two years. Florida does not require veterinary technicians to hold licensure, but MDC graduates qualify to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam. Applicants undergo an interview process and background check.
Miami Dade College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges.
PCC offers an associate in veterinary technology degree at its Rock Creek campus. The program prepares students to work as certified veterinary technicians. Learners develop surgical, medical, laboratory, and interpersonal skills while completing coursework and clinical experiences.
The program requires about two years of studies. Degree-seekers learn about small-animal diseases, animal nutrition, and veterinary pharmacology. Students receive clinical training in hospital settings and in wildlife preserves and zoos. PCC contains a farm, kennel, and cattery. Graduates qualify to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam.
Applicants must submit transcripts and a recommendation letter, and they must participate in an interview. The college allows students to apply general education transfer credits toward the veterinary technology degree.
Portland Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Located in Kansas City, Missouri, MCC offers an associate degree in veterinary technology and a 19-credit veterinary assistant certificate. Students take veterinary technician courses at MCC's Maple Woods campus.
The associate-level veterinary technology program features specialized classes in equine medicine and large-animal technology. Students also take general coursework in veterinary anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. Learners obtain foundational knowledge while completing pre-veterinary coursework, which the college offers on all five of its campuses. MCC's hands-on curriculum prepares students for careers in veterinary technology and nursing.
Most students earn the 78-credit associate in veterinary technology in seven semesters. Applicants must have completed general education requirements and must submit a resume and short essay.
Metropolitan Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.