What Education Do You Need to Become a Vet Tech?

If you’re interested in becoming a vet tech, you may be wondering what kind of education you need. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need to do to pursue this career.

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The Basics

In order to become a Vet Tech, you will need at minimum, a two-year Associate’s degree from an accredited institution. However, some employers may prefer or require that you have a four-year Bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology.

What is a vet tech?

A veterinary technician is a professional who provides direct patient care and support services under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Vet techs work in private clinics, animal hospitals, zoos, academic institutions, research laboratories, and pharmaceutical companies. They may also work in public health or food safety.

The vet tech profession has grown rapidly in recent years, and is expected to continue to grow as demand for animal health services increases. This demand is being driven by a number of factors, including the aging of the population (which results in more people owning pets), the humanization of pets (which leads to more people treating their pets as family members), and the increased awareness of the role that animals can play in human health and well-being.

As a result of this growth, there is an increasing need for trained veterinary technicians. To meet this need, many colleges and universities offer accredited veterinary technology programs that lead to an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology.

What education is required to become a vet tech?

Veterinary technicians in most states must have graduated from an accredited two-year veterinary technology program and passed a credentialing exam. A few states allow certification by portfolio review in lieu of the credentialing exam. Most employers prefer to hire credentialed veterinary technicians.

The curriculum for an accredited veterinary technology program covers both animal science and clinical coursework. Students receive instruction in animal anatomy and physiology, diagnostic imaging, animal diseases, pharmacy and pharmacology, among other topics. Many programs offer externships as part of the curriculum so students can gain hands-on experience working with animals in a clinic or hospital setting.

The Details

Education requirements for becoming a vet tech vary by state but most states require that you have at least a 2-year degree from an accredited institution. Some states require that you have a 4-year degree. The most common degree is an Associate’s degree in Veterinary Technology. There are also certification programs that you can take that will allow you to become a vet tech.

Associate’s Degree

An Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology is the minimum educational requirement to become a vet tech. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology. Some prospective vet techs may also choose to complete a certificate or diploma program in Veterinary Technology.

Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelor’s degree programs in veterinary technology are available at many colleges and universities, and typically take four years to complete. These programs include coursework in subjects such as animal anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, zoology, and animal husbandry. Students also receive training in laboratory procedures, diagnostic testing, surgical assisting, and dentistry.

Master’s Degree

While you can become a vet tech with an associate’s degree, many employers prefer or require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. If you’re interested in pursuing a leadership role or working in a specialty area, you may need to earn a master’s degree.

The Pros and Cons

You need a minimum of an associate’s degree to become a vet tech, but a bachelor’s degree will make you more competitive in the job market. A four-year degree will also give you more opportunity for upward mobility and higher pay. However, a four-year degree will also cost you more money and take longer to complete.


The job outlook for veterinary technicians is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 20 percent growth in the field between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due in part to an increase in the number of pet owners and an aging population of baby boomers who are more likely to have their pets treated by a veterinarian.


There are some definite cons to becoming a vet tech. First and foremost, the job can be emotionally demanding. Working with sick and injured animals can be tough, even for the most dedicated animal lover. It’s also a physically demanding job, as you will be on your feet for long periods of time and may have to lift heavy animals.

Another potential downside is the cost of education. While you can find programs that are reasonably priced, becoming a vet tech generally requires more schooling than becoming a veterinary assistant. You will also need to pass a state-level exam to become licensed, which can add to the overall cost.

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