This article provides an overview of what you should expect to experience as you pursue your education in the exciting field of Veterinary Technology.
Much of your educational experience depends upon whether you choose an on-campus program or a distance learning/on-line program. With both on-campus and on-line programs, you will receive a combination of classroom and hands-on training. For on-campus programs, you will attend classes at a set time and place.
Distance learning programs generally allow you to view classes on-line at your convenience. Whether you are enrolled in on-site or on-line classes, it is important to choose a program that is fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA.) Some Veterinary Technology programs offer open enrollment and accept all students who apply. Other programs are selective, meaning certain requirements must be met before you can enroll.
DEGREES IN VETERINARY TECHNOLOGY
There are different levels of education that can be pursued, including Associate Degree and Bachelor’s Degree. An Associate Degree can usually be completed in two to three years.
A Bachelor’s Degree is a full four-year college degree and requires the completion of the college’s core curriculum in addition to the required Veterinary Technology classes.
THE VETERINARY TECHNOLOGY CURRICULUM
Most Veterinary Technology curricula will include classes on:
- General animal care
- Veterinary business practices
- Large and small animal anatomy and physiology
- Animal pathology—the study of diseases that affect animals
- Animal nursing, surgical assisting and treatment
- Collection of blood and other biologic samples, and laboratory analysis of these samples
- Animal pharmacology—the study of medications used to treat animals
- Diagnostic imaging and radiology
- Animal dentistry
- Emergency care and treatment
You can also choose areas of specialization by taking elective classes. For example, if you would like to work with horses, you would enroll in electives concerning the care and treatment of large animals. If you are seeking a career as a veterinary technician in a laboratory, you would select electives that pertain to laboratory sampling, testing and equipment.
If you are enrolled in an on-campus, four-year Bachelor’s Degree program, your school might offer on-campus dormitories or apartments. Otherwise, if you already live near your campus, are returning to college as an adult, attending an on-line program, or pursuing an Associate Degree you will most likely continue in your current living situation and not relocate as part of your education.
After you have enrolled in the Veterinary Technology program that is right for you, you will sign up for classes. Most on-campus programs conduct two semesters per year, with a short summer session.
On-line classes may begin at set times, or the student may decide when to start a class. In either case, some classes are pre-requisites to other classes, meaning that they must be taken before another class. Also, especially for on-campus programs, some courses may only be offered once a year. Therefore, your college catalog or academic advisor may recommend that certain classes be taken at certain times.
LABORATORIES AND CLINICALS
With an on-campus program, some classes will be conducted in a laboratory or clinical setting. These classes allow you to get the hands-on experience you need to work with animals in different situations.
Many Veterinary Technology programs, especially those granting four-year degrees, use the summer terms for hands-on education in a clinical setting. For distance learning programs, this hands-on portion of your education may be conducted at an approved location under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian or fully credentialed veterinary technician who is certified by the AVMA to act as a preceptor.
Both on-campus and on-line programs generally require one to two textbooks per class. Some books may be available for computer download, but most have to be purchased by the student. The textbooks required for each class can be found on the school’s website or on the class syllabus provided by your instructor.
Students who complete an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in an accredited Veterinary Technology program are eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) administered by the American Association of State Veterinary Boards to receive certification as a Veterinary Technician. Certification standards vary from state to state. More information about your state’s certification requirements and the VTNE can be found on-line or obtained from your instructors or program administrators.