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.
FAQ About Veterinary Tech Programs
Q. How long does it take to complete a veterinary technology program?
Technicians can earn a degree in two years. Technologists generally need four years of study to qualify for licensure.
Q. Do I need a license to be a veterinary technician?
Technicians in most states must meet AVMA's licensure requirements. This includes specific coursework and an exam.
Q. Where do veterinary technicians work?
Technicians work in private veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, laboratories, and university research facilities.
Q. What's the difference between a veterinarian and a veterinary technician?
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|
Accreditation for Veterinary Technology Programs
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.
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.
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.
Introduction to Veterinary Technology
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.
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 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 Clinical Experience
Scholarships for Veterinary Technology Students
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.