Veterinary Tech Degree Programs and Training

Just like any other doctor, veterinarians need a strong and knowledgeable support staff in order to effectively treat their patients. Veterinary technicians and technologists provide that support, and act as the right hand men and women that veterinarians can rely on when taking care of sick pets. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), veterinary technicians and technologists -- who generally work in animal hospitals, private clinics, animal shelters, zoos and laboratories -- are responsible for providing first aid and nursing care to animals that have been injured, observing the condition and behavior of patients, preparing animals for surgery, taking and developing x-rays, and performing blood and urine tests on animals. These duties require specialized knowledge -- and in order to obtain that knowledge, veterinary technicians and technologists are required to complete specialized training.

Veterinary tech degree programs

The BLS reports that although veterinary technicians and technologists have similar job duties, the training required for these two professions is somewhat different. Veterinary technicians can generally find employment after completing a two-year degree program, while veterinary technologists are required to earn a four-year degree. During their high school years, students interested in these professions are encouraged to study math, biology, and other sciences in order to prepare for the following available college degree programs.

  • Certificate programs. Certificate programs help prepare students for entry-level veterinary tech jobs. These programs teach students how to give compassionate medical care to a variety of domestic animals -- which includes skills such as providing basic dental care, assisting veterinarians during surgeries and medical examinations, and administering medications to animals.
  • Associate degrees. This program helps give veterinary technicians the academic foundation, as well as hands-on training, they need in order to assist in the treatment of animals. These degrees, which generally take two years to complete, teach students how to work with animals, as well as with the medical equipment they will find on the job. In addition to coursework, students in these programs may also get the opportunity to work in animal clinics in order to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical situations.
  • Bachelor's degrees. For those who want to pursue a veterinary technologist career, a bachelor's degree program gives students the knowledge they need to care for animals in emergency and non-emergency situations. Like the associate degrees that veterinary technicians earn, these programs combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience in order to give students the well-rounded education needed to handle the realities of this career. In addition, depending on the program students enroll in, they may be able to learn business and management skills that can help them advance in their careers.

Veterinary tech training

The specific courses that students take in veterinary tech programs will differ from school to school, but there are some subjects they will generally study in most cases. The following topics are examples of these classes:

  • Exotic animal handling
  • Animal care and management
  • Animal anatomy
  • Animal pharmacology
  • Medical mathematics
  • Animal parasitology
  • Animal nutrition
  • Animal physiology
  • Pocket pets
  • Animal psychology

Career outlook for veterinary techs

In the coming years, according to the BLS, there will be a growing need for veterinary technician and technologists. In fact, jobs for these professionals are expected to increase 30 percent between 2012 and 2022 -- which is faster than the average of all occupations around the country. The BLS reports that the reason for this increase in jobs is the fact that veterinarians are looking for highly-skilled employees to assist their work in animal clinics, and veterinary technicians and technologists receive more specialized training than veterinary assistants usually do. In addition, there will be an increased need for these workers outside of animal clinics, and jobs are expected to become available in areas such as national disease control, food and animal safety, and public health.

As of May 2013, veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists earned a national median annual salary of $30,500, with their salary ranging from $21,270 (lowest 10 percent) to $44,490 (highest 10 percent).


Associate in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology, Globe University, Accessed August 23, 2014, http://www.globeuniversity.edu/animal-science-degree/vet-tech/associates

B.S. in Veterinary Technology, Mercy College, Accessed July 23, 2014, https://www.mercy.edu/academics/school-of-health-and-natural-sciences/department-of-natural-sciences/bs-in-veterinary-technology/

Career: Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, The College Board, Accessed August 23, 2014, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/health-technology-veterinary-technologists-technicians

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed August 23, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292056.htm

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, August 23, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm

"Veterinary technicians: Nursing animals to health," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed August 23, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2003/fall/art03.pdf

Veterinary Assistant Program, Pima Medical Institute, Accessed August 23, 2014, http://pmi.edu/Programs/Certificate/Veterinary-Assistant

Veterinary Technology Associate Degree, Broadview University, Accessed August 23, 2014, http://www.broadviewuniversity.edu/programs/health-science/veterinary-technology/aas-veterinary-technology.aspx

Veterinary Technician Degree, Front Range Community College, Accessed August 23, 2014, http://www.frontrange.edu/Academics/Fields-of-Study/AAS/Veterinary-Technician-Degree/

Veterinary Technology A.S. Degree - Online, St. Petersburg College, Accessed August 23, 2014, http://www.spcollege.edu/vt-asonline/

Veterinary Technician Degree, Penn Foster, Accessed July 23, 2014, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/veterinary-studies/veterinary-technician-associate-degree

Veterinary Technology On-Campus Program, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, Accessed July 23, 2014, http://www.vet.purdue.edu/vettech/on-campus.php

Veterinary Technician Schools

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