Veterinary Technician Bachelor's Degree Programs

Learn about what a veterinary technician does and how it varies from a veterinary technologist's tasks. Find out degree programs available in the field and employment opportunities. Schools offering Veterinary Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is the Difference Between a Veterinary Technician and a Veterinary Technologist?

The field of veterinary technology - focused on providing assistance to veterinarians - can be a bit confusing to someone who doesn't know a lot about it. This is because a veterinary technology degree can lead to two distinctly different, yet similarly titled, career fields. To become a veterinary technician, you must complete a 2- to 3-year veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). To work as a veterinary technologist, you must complete an accredited, 4-year, bachelor's degree program in veterinary technology.

Do Bachelor's Degrees for Veterinary Technicians Exist?

You can find plenty of 4-year bachelor's degree programs in veterinary technology. While these programs could qualify you to work as a veterinary technician, they are designed to prepare you to work as a veterinary technologist. If you want to work as a veterinary technician, an associate's degree program is more appropriate.

Although not especially common, you can find online veterinary technology degree programs at the associate's level; a few online bachelor's programs also exist. Due to the hands-on nature of this field, these programs are generally designed for students already working within a veterinary practice; you can take courses online while completing your required clinical experiences at the veterinary office. In other cases, you can complete an externship with a veterinarian in your community while completing coursework online, even if you aren't currently working in a veterinary practice.

What Will I Learn in a Veterinary Technician Degree Program?

Associate's degree programs in veterinary technology typically require two years of full-time study to complete. Both online and on-campus programs require hands-on externships for graduation. Associate's degree programs help you develop entry-level skills in veterinary technology through classes in animal anatomy and physiology, animal health management, anesthesia, animal diseases, pharmacy procedures and veterinary office procedures. This degree program prepares you to become a veterinary technician.

What Does a Bachelor's Degree Program in Veterinary Technology Consist Of?

Bachelor's degree programs in veterinary technology generally require four years of full-time study to complete. In addition to what you might learn in a 2-year veterinary technology program, you might also study surgical assisting, laboratory procedures, radiology, dentistry, parasitology, hemotology, animal nutrition and emergency animal care. You'll also learn to record patient information, calculate dosages and dispense medications. Clinical externships working with live animals and performing laboratory procedures are required for most programs. This degree program prepares you to work as a veterinary technologist.

What Can I Do with My Degree?

Regulations for veterinary technologists and technicians vary by state, but you will need to pass a state exam to work in this field. The National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam is what many states use for credentialing; after passing, you will be considered certified, licensed or registered as a veterinary technician or technologist, depending on the state and the length of program you've completed. If you would like to work in a research facility, you may need certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). This association offers three levels of certification, focusing on animal health and welfare, animal husbandry and facility management

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists are expected to increase by 36% from 2008-2018, primarily due to increasing numbers of pet owners willing to pay for advanced veterinary services (www.bls.gov). This is much faster than the average employment growth for all jobs. The annual mean salary for veterinary technicians and technologists combined was $30,580 as of 2009, also per the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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