How to Choose a Vet Tech Degree

This article will provide you with helpful information about vet tech degrees and how the career of veterinarian technician can be an excellent and profitable one. We also will share information about accreditation and quality online degree programs in this field.

What Is a Veterinarian Technician Degree?

A veterinarian technician or veterinarian technologist degree will teach you the skills that you need to care for animals and performs various medical tests under the supervision of a veterinarian. Their main duties are to support the veterinarian in the diagnosis of injuries and illnesses in animals. Their most common daily tasks include:

  • Make observations of the conditions of animals
  • Provide emergency care or nursing care for animals that are sick or injured
  • Clip nails, claws, bathe animals, brush and cut hair of various animals
  • Hold animals during various procedures and exams
  • Give anesthesia to animals and monitor how they respond
  • Obtain lab samples including urine, blood, and tissue for various tests
  • Take x-rays and have them developed
  • Ready animals and instruments for surgery
  • Give animals vaccines and medicines
  • Record patient histories

Veterinarians are highly reliant on these workers to help them to do many clinical and laboratory procedures. These include postoperative care, dental care and specialized care of various types.

There are some veterinarian technicians who also work in various research related jobs. For instance, some workers may work in research labs with animal testing and they ensure that animals are treated in a humane fashion. They may also assist scientists on animal research projects in disaster preparedness and food safety.

Veterinary technicians often work with small animal veterinarians who care for dogs and cats, but they may also work in clinics that care for sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, birds and other animals.

There are two basic types of workers in this field and they have different education levels:

  • Veterinary technologist: Usually have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Many with a four year degree will work in a research related position, usually being guided by the a scientist or veterinarian.
  • Veterinary technician: Usually have an associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. They often work in a private veterinary practice under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Veterinary technician and technology degree programs will educate you in the following fields:

  • Veterinary anatomy and physiology
  • Parasitology
  • Pharmacology
  • Anesthesia and surgery
  • Pathology
  • Radiology
  • Lab animal medicine
  • Animal behavior

Why Earn a Veterinarian Technician Degree?

Many people who love animals want to spend their career working with them, and they also are attracted to the fact that job demand in this field is quickly growing.

Employment for veterinarian technicians and technologists will increase by 19% by 2024, which is much faster than average.

Animal hospitals and clinics are using veterinary technologists and technicians more today to provide general care and to do more lab work. This allows the organization to work in a more cost effective manner.

There also is a growing need for these workers in animal and food safety as organizations are trying to stop foodborne illnesses in animals. There should be other job opportunities in public health, where the goal is to protect the health for all people and animals in a community.

Experts believe that job opportunities for veterinary technologists and technicians will grow the fastest in rural areas.

The median pay for veterinary technologists and technicians was $32.000 in 2015. The top 10% earned more than $47,000 per year. Generally, those with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology will have the highest salary prospects.

Choosing Your Veterinarian Technician Degree Path

This field consists of both veterinary technologists and technicians. The typical educational path in this field is as follows:

  • Associate’s degree as a veterinary technician or technologist. There are at least 200 of these two year programs across the US at community colleges and technical schools.
  • Bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology

In both degrees, you should seek a program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association or AVMA.

After you finish your associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you may need to earn a license or credential to work in the field. This will vary based upon your state. The credential that you may need could be one of the following:

  • Licensed (LVT) that is often administered by your state’s veterinary medical board
  • Certified (CVT) by a professional or private program
  • Registered (RVT) by a state government agency

Online Degree Options

There are convenient and affordable online degree options available today so that you can earn your degree in veterinary technology.

If you want to earn an associate’s degree in the field, you will usually need to attend a community college or technical school in your city in person to earn your degree.

But you can earn your bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology online at many qualify schools. For example, St. Petersburg College offers a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

This four year, online program will  provide you the skills and knowledge that you need to further your veterinary technology career. Most of the students in this program continue to work full time and most complete the degree in four years.

This program has been fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, so you may be confident that the program will provide you with the skills you need to succeed in your veterinary career.

Your required classes will include the following:

  • ATE 3200 Safety and Regulatory Compliance in Veterinary Technology 1
  • ATE 3615 Veterinary Pharmacology 3
  • ATE 3744 Advanced Veterinary Terminology 1
  • ATE 3914 Introduction to Veterinary Technology Research 3
  • ATE 4000 Veterinary Technology Pre Capstone 3
  • ATE 4814 Veterinary Technology Capstone II 3
  • ATE 4854 Leadership in Veterinary Technology 3

You also can choose tracks in clinical techniques and hospital management. The program will build upon the skills you have learned in your associate’s program, so it is highly recommended that you have your associate’s degree. If not, you will need to take prerequisite courses before you start the bachelor’s program.

Accreditation

Any student who is considering to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology should be sure that the program has been accredited by the AVMA Council on Education. This organization offers what is still the highest standard of achievement for veterinary medical programs in the US.

Institutions that earn this accreditation have affirmed that they are committed to continuous improvement and quality in veterinary medicine through a rigorous peer review system.

Accreditation by the AVMA is a process where the university submits to a voluntary review to determine if it meets high standards of quality in the veterinary education industry.

Graduating from an AVMA accredited university is usually required for you to be licensed or certified to practice in veterinary medicine in most state.

Summary

The field of veterinary technology is growing rapidly, and you should anticipate that there will be strong job demand in the field for many years to come. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that there are many older veterinary technicians and technologists who will be retiring in the next decade. This should offer you more opportunities to obtain a good position in veterinary technology.