A veterinary technician is a vital part of any veterinary team. They are responsible for many of the same duties as a veterinarian, but under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
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Becoming a veterinary technician typically requires completing a two-year associate’s degree program in veterinary technology. Although some programs allow students to complete their clinical training at the veterinary practice where they currently work, most require students to complete their clinical training at an affiliated animal hospital or clinic.
Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology
An Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology is the minimum requirement to become a veterinary technician. This two-year degree can be completed at a variety of colleges and universities, both on campus and online. During your coursework, you’ll take classes in animal anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, and other sciences. You’ll also complete clinical rotations at a local animal hospital or clinic, giving you hands-on experience working with animals.
Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology
A bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology is the most common type of degree for aspiring veterinary technicians. This type of degree typically takes four years to complete and includes both classroom and laboratory components. Classes you may take as part of a veterinary technology bachelor’s degree program include animal anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pharmacology and surgical nursing. You will also likely participate in clinical rotations, which provide hands-on experience caring for animals in a veterinary hospital setting.
Coursework for Veterinary Technicians
While you’re working on completing the necessary coursework to become a veterinary technician, you can also start taking steps to prepare for your career. For example, you can volunteer at your local animal shelter or join a pre-veterinary club at your school. You can also begin familiarizing yourself with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Code of Ethics, which all practicing veterinarians must adhere to.
The AVMA accredits more than 200 veterinary technician programs across the United States, so it’s important that you research the programs in your area to find one that’s a good fit for you. Once you’ve chosen a program, you’ll need to complete an application and, in some cases, submit transcripts from your undergraduate coursework.
Once you’re accepted into a veterinary technician program, you can expect to take courses such as animal anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, surgical nursing, diagnostic imaging and clinical pathology. You’ll also likely complete clinical rotations in various settings, such as private practices, zoos Specialized coursework may be required if you plan to work in a particular area of veterinary technology, such as dentistry or nutrition. Most programs culminate in a clinical externship, during which you’ll gain hands-on experience working with animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Veterinary Technician Certification
In order to become a certified veterinary technician, you will need to complete a two-year Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology from an accredited institution. Once you have finished your degree, you will need to take and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). After passing the VTNE, you will then be able to apply for state licensure. Once you are licensed, you will be able to work as a certified veterinary technician.
Job Outlook for Veterinary Technicians
Veterinary technicians typically need an associate’s degree in veterinary technology. Programs typically take 2 years to complete and are available at community colleges and technical schools. A few 4-year colleges offer bachelor’s degree programs in veterinary technology, but these are not as common.
After completing an educational program, veterinary technicians must pass 2 exams to become certified and licensed in most states. The first exam, the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The second exam, which is state-specific, is usually a jurisprudence exam that tests candidates’ knowledge of state laws and regulations related to veterinary medicine.
Once certified, veterinary technicians can apply for jobs in private clinics, animal hospitals, zoos, and research laboratories. Some veterinary technicians work in sales or marketing for companies that sell veterinary products, such as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of veterinary technicians is expected to grow 19% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities will be best for those who have completed formal education programs in veterinary technology and who are licensed in multiple states