University Vet Tech Courses Available Online

People who love working with animals and want to learn more about their care may benefit from courses in veterinary technology, also known as vet tech. These courses cover diagnosis and treatment related to animal patient care, and can lead to careers assisting veterinarians in clinics, zoos, or aquariums – much like nurses assist physicians in hospitals. Vet tech students can choose between two career tracks: veterinary technician or veterinary technologist. The two titles are almost synonymous, as technicians and technologists perform the same types of tasks, though the latter involves more schooling and can open the doors to careers in advanced research. Both programs cover similar ground, with courses in types of breeds, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and animal diseases, as well as animal nursing techniques, laboratory procedures, and radiographic and anesthetic techniques.

Those interested in taking vet tech courses to become veterinary technicians generally take a two-year associate’s degree program. Veterinary technologists, meanwhile, usually undergo a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Both programs are often geared towards people already working at a veterinarian clinic. In fact, employment at a vet’s office may even be a requirement during the program.

For students looking for a more flexible option while earning their degree, distance learning is common, with some programs available completely online and others a mix of both online and on-campus courses. But no matter the type of program you apply to, make sure it is accredited. A degree from an accredited veterinary technology program will enable you to take any credentialing exams required to obtain certification or licensure to practice in your state. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education is the accrediting body for vet tech programs, and the association keeps an up-to-date list of accredited institutions on its website.

Vet Tech and Your Career

Vet tech courses primarily train aspiring veterinary technicians and technologists, though people who also work frequently with animals, such as breeders and farmers, could also benefit from them. Students are trained to treat small pets – primarily cats and dogs – as well as mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, monkeys, birds, fish, and frogs, and come away knowing how to conduct medical tests, treat diseases and medical conditions in animals, develop x-rays, perform examinations, dental care, and grooming, administer drugs and anesthesia, and assist in surgery.

These courses ultimately prepare students to obtain any credentials that are required to practice in their state. Though the exact standards vary from state to state, passing a credentialing exam is required in each one to work as a technician or technologist. From there, veterinary technicians and technologists most often find employment in a private clinical practice, though animal hospitals, shelters, boarding kennels, animal control facilities, and humane societies are also options. Veterinary technologists have more opportunities for research jobs than technicians do, at such places as biomedical facilities, diagnostic laboratories, wildlife facilities, drug and food manufacturing companies, and food safety inspection facilities.

Opportunities in the vet tech field are promising, growing much faster than the average for all occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow 36% within the 2008-18 decade due to an increased demand for pet care. As pet owners become more affluent, they’re more willing to spend money on veterinary care. The best opportunities are in private clinics, with zoos and aquariums facing greater competition. The BLS also predicts a need for more advanced veterinary services, such as preventive dental care and surgical procedures, as well as feline care, thanks to a growing number of people who own cats.

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