If you’re an animal lover and you care about the health and welfare of these beings, earning a veterinary tech degree may be the perfect way to turn your passion into a career. Different types of degrees are available, so you can choose the one that fits the level of direct care you want to provide. This guide outlines the requirements for the various online degrees offered and also offers a list of key criteria for distance learning programs to help you make an informed decision about online vet tech schools.
Depending on the level of care future vet techs are hoping to provide, there are a variety of online degrees in the field to meet those aspirations. Most programs are offered as associate or bachelor’s degrees, allowing students to enter the field more quickly than veterinarian students. After selecting their educational level, students should also research factors such as proper accreditation, faculty credentials, flexibility, internships and career placement assistance. Those looking for help in their journey can use the search tool below to develop a list of personalized schools to help them meet their goals.
Veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists work in animal hospitals, labs and other environments, taking care of injured or sick animals. The level of education and job responsibilities vary according to one’s title. Both work under the direction of licensed veterinarians, but a veterinary technologist has more autonomy and may supervise vet technicians.
Employment for veterinary technicians and technologists is projected to grow much faster than other jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2012 through 2022, job opportunities should increase by 30 percent, which is more than double the growth rate predicted for other occupations nationwide. In addition to working with veterinarians, opportunities for vet techs are expanding in other areas, such as public health, national disease control, and food and animal safety.
Online vet tech schools offer degrees at the associate and bachelor’s level. The associate degree can lead to a position as a veterinary technician, while the bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology can result in a career as a veterinary technician or technologist.
Your choice of a degree and a program may depend on several factors, including finances, career goals, and the amount of time you are able to commit to your studies. Web-based studies can offer increased flexibility in completing assignments, but some online vet tech schools require some on-campus attendance for activities like clinical exercises. In most programs, students perform clinical work at approved off-campus sites – usually veterinary practices. Under certain circumstances, students may be able to complete clinical work at pounds and shelters, but program officials must approve clinical preceptors in advance.
The online Associate in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology is a two-year degree usually consisting of 73 credits. At some schools, applicants must complete 18 of the standard 22 general education credits before gaining admittance into the vet tech program.
At the associate level, students are exposed to procedures for assisting veterinarians during animal surgeries and exams, as well as handling and treating animals in clinical and lab settings. Besides laboratory skills, students learn about diseases and dentistry in small and large animals, imaging procedures and concepts of veterinary business practices. Coursework may include the basics of anesthesiology, pharmacology, anatomy, and hematology. Students also learn how to restrain, groom, and collect samples from animals and perform their work ethically. They also study how to maintain and sanitize kennels and administer medications.
The online bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology usually consists of 120 credits and takes about four years for full-time students. Some online vet tech schools require an associate degree in the field and 15 transferrable credits in general education. While students cover some of the same topics taught in the associate degree program, bachelor degree programs build on this foundation and delve deeper into these areas, exploring more advanced clinical concepts and management topics, giving students a deeper understanding of animal care.
Programs vary from school to school, but often include several options to choose from, such as a clinical track, a hospital management track, or a track that combines both clinical and hospital management. Coursework may include such topics as supervision in veterinary hospitals, managing hospital finances, ophthalmic nursing, and teaching techniques for veterinary technicians.
Online veterinary tech programs vary from school to school, and there are certain key elements that aspiring technicians and technologists should analyze when choosing a program.
Typically, a reputable school is accredited by such organizations as the Commission on Higher Learning, and the program is accredited by such organizations as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education. Accreditation indicates that the school and program have met the various educational qualifications required to be officially recognized and endorsed. If you attend a school that is not accredited, you may not be able to apply for financial aid, and your credits will not transfer to another school.
Instructors play a crucial role in determining the quality of the online veterinary program. The faculty should include professors, adjunct professors and instructors who are veterinarians or have extensive experience working with animals. Some of them may also be experienced and credentialed veterinarian technologists and technicians who are graduates of vet tech programs that have been accredited by AVMA. In addition, the school should be able to provide evidence showing that it evaluates the performance of its instructors on a regular basis.
Depending on your employment status, family situation, or other lifestyle factors, you may not be able to take classes consistently. If you need to take a break, it’s important to know that you can pick up where you left off and continue with your education. Some schools place limits on the amount of time students have to finish a degree program. After this time frame, you might need to repeat certain classes.
Make sure that the program you select offers a sufficient amount of time for you to take classes at a comfortable pace without losing credit hours or being dismissed from the program. Also, keep in mind that some schools only allow students to repeat a course once.
The curriculum should teach students how to care for animals, support veterinarians, and work in a research-based environment. Students learn critical thinking and decision-making skills. They should also become familiar with concepts such as monitoring and inducing anesthesia, restraining and identifying animals, medical terminology and safety issues. In addition, programs cover surgical nursing, veterinary anatomy, office management and principles of feeding. Besides academic training, the curriculum should include lab work, practicums, preceptorships and internships.
Internships and other types of hand-on training provide students with opportunities to gain real-world experience. An ideal program places students with vet hospitals and other places where they can expand their knowledge base and obtain practical experience. Most internships include both core and elective rotations. Core rotations might include such areas as cardiology, after-hours emergency, internal medicine and surgery, while elective rotations might include nutrition, rehabilitation and integrative medicine.
Some programs offer career placement services to help students find jobs when they graduate from veterinary tech school. When employers are looking for qualified veterinary technicians, many of them know that good vet tech programs are the best way to find these individuals. Also, career placement services usually help students with such tasks as creating effective resumes and cover letters, dressing appropriately for the interview, practicing interview responses, and projecting professionalism and confidence during the interview.
Many other types of services and resources can help students choose between online vet tech schools. Some programs offer mentorship opportunities with the program’s alumni. Other helpful services include courses and seminars on time management, study skills and ways to think more critically. Also, there may be programs to help students develop social network connections with their fellow veterinary tech peers. Depending on the student’s situation, some programs offer other types of assistance, such as services for military veterans and English as Second Language (ESL) students.
This refers to the effectiveness of the program. For example, do most students complete the veterinary tech program or is there a high attrition rate? Also, what percentage of graduates pass the veterinarian tech exam? Online vet tech degree programs keep track of these rates and provide information to help students gauge the success of the program.
This online associate degree in veterinary technology is offered as a two-year program. The multimedia courses use a mix of textbooks, videos, Internet assignments and in-clinic exercises. Students must complete 27 technician courses and six general education courses with a grade of “C” or higher.
Courses include pharmacy and pharmacology, laboratory procedures, and radiology and ultrasound. Other coursework includes subjects such as food animal clinical management, equine clinical management and large animal assisting techniques. Cedar Valley offers classes on four levels, and to register for classes in levels 2-4, students are required to work at least 10 hours a week in an approved veterinary facility.
This online program is intensive and selective, accepting 30 applicants each year for admission. The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology program sometimes uses video to enhance learning but primarily uses Blackboard, a web-based learning platform. Courses include management, laboratory animal health management, understanding animal disease, and animal and equine anesthesia.
Students who take a break from the program for three consecutive terms need to submit an online re-entry form before registering for more classes. Students who dropped out for academic reasons need to contact the program to gain approval before reapplying.
The online Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology requires 75-76 credit hours for completion. Coursework includes veterinary business procedures, vet diagnostic imaging, pharmacology and medical therapeutics, and vet nursing care. Other classes include large animal diseases and medical care, lab animal exotic clinical procedures, and emergency and critical care medicine.
The program uses an online learning management system. Students read textbooks, read articles online, take weekly quizzes and major exams, and participate in weekly discussions. They also use videotapes, professional papers, and PowerPoint presentations to demonstrate an understanding of learned material. Students can call their teachers during office hours and send emails at any time. The program can be completed in 2-4 years, depending on a student’s class load, and he or she must finish the program within five years.
Although the names sound similar, there are distinct differences between veterinary technicians and veterinarians. Review the table below for an idea of the general differences:
|Required education||Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology||Doctor of Veterinary Medicine|
|Exam||Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)||North American Veterinary License Examination (NAVLE)|
|Job function||Assisting role||Supervisory, directing role|
|Job duties||Perform preparatory work: prepare treatment rooms for surgery, prepare animals for surgery and maintain laboratory equipment. Restrain and hold animals during treatment.||Provide treatment by examining animals, performing surgery, prescribing medications, setting bones and dressing wounds.|
|Ability to administer drugs||Administer medications under supervision only||Can prescribe and administer medications|
Yes, most states require graduates to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination. This computer-based exam is designed to evaluate the competency level of entry-level vet techs and determine if they should be credentialed and allowed to practice their craft.
Also, technicians who wish to work in research environments can choose to be certified. There are three certification levels: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician, Laboratory Animal Technician and Laboratory Animal Technologist. While certification is not required, many employers give preference to applicants who have been certified.
According to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary technicians and technologists earned a mean annual wage of $31,760. The median annual wage of veterinary technicians and technologists that same year was $30,500. However, salaries can vary, depending on industry, location, employer, and experience.
These are the five top-paying industries for veterinary technicians and technologists:
Here are the five top-paying states for veterinary technicians and technologists:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 84,800 veterinary technicians and technologists in 2012, and in the 2012-2022 time frame, 25,000 new jobs are likely in this field.
These are the five industries with the highest levels of employment of veterinary technicians and technologists:
The states with the highest levels of employment of veterinary technicians and technologists include Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Career options vary. Vet techs may work with cats and dogs in pet clinics, or they may work with farm animals, parrots, reptiles and horses. Animal shelters also employ vet techs to care for the animals they house temporarily. In addition, some colleges and zoos keep nature or wildlife centers for research and educational purposes and they hire vet techs to care for the animals, conduct research, and also teach vet tech classes or teach visitors about wildlife and preservation.
Other opportunities can be found at wildlife rehabilitation centers, where vet techs are hired to care for injured or displaced animals. Even the government may employ these specialists to perform inspections, conduct research, or care for animals for federal agencies such as the Department of Agriculture or state-level fish and game departments.