Veterinary Technician Programs and Becoming a Vet Tech
The veterinary care sector in America is experiencing sustained and robust growth, which has resulted in an increasing demand for veterinary technicians. Because of this, many individuals are choosing to enter a veterinary technology program in order to become qualified vet techs.
By understanding what a vet tech program involves, these students can better prepare themselves to quickly and effectively complete the program and enter the veterinary technology field.
Types of Veterinary Technician Programs
Most vet tech programs are offered by community colleges or vocational training institutions. In general, a vet tech program takes approximately two years for a full-time student to complete and awards an associate’s degree to the student upon their graduation.
Many schools also offer part-time and online options for their students. This allows students who are working or who otherwise cannot attend on a full-time schedule to complete the program.
In general, this will take longer than two years, but the exact length will depend on the student’s specific schedule. Online programs allow those students who cannot attend classes in person to study at home and on their own schedule. However, some classes with a laboratory or clinical component may require the student to physically attend some or all of the class sessions.
Vet Tech Program Courses
Vet tech programs have a variety of classes that the student must take in order to successfully complete the program. The program’s curriculum will include courses that cover the following subjects:
- Veterinary hospital procedures and practices.
- First age and emergency pet care.
- Animal anatomy and physiology.
- Veterinary nursing procedures.
- Clinical pathology and lab techniques.
- Large and exotic animal care.
In addition, many programs may have options for those students who wish to specialize in certain areas, such as large animal care. However, all students will have to complete the core curriculum in order to obtain their associate’s degree.
Laboratory and Clinical Work
Many vet tech programs will include courses that have a clinical or laboratory component. These components allow the students to obtain hands on experience in the field of veterinary technology.
Lab work is usually performed at the school and under the direct supervision of the instructor. Clinical instruction involves treating actual animals, usually at a veterinary clinic. This work is conducted under the supervision of the instructors in addition to the professional veterinary care staff.
Prerequisite and General Education Requirements
In addition to those courses directly related to the veterinary technology program, many community colleges also require their students to take certain prerequisite courses before they can enter the vet tech program.
These courses usually focus on math, biology and other fields that the student must master before he or she can effectively complete the veterinary technology program. Students who are not native English speakers may be required to complete English courses in order to improve their language skills.
Older students may be able to avoid these requirements if their previous education already covers these subjects. However, the school’s decision on whether or not previous educational experience is acceptable is made on an individual basis.
In some cases, a program may require that such individuals past a test in order to demonstrate their mastery of the material that is usually covered by the prerequisite courses. For this reason, a potential student should check with the program’s administrators as soon as possible in order to avoid unnecessary delays in entering the vet tech program.
Ensuring the Program is Accredited
It is extremely important that all students ensure that their veterinary technology program is accredited with the A
merican Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA only accredits those programs that meet very high educational and professional standards. In those states that require vet techs to be licensed, non-accredited programs may not be accepted by the state. In addition, many professional vet tech organizations either require or prefer their members to have graduated from an accredited program.
Internships and Externships
In addition to coursework, many vet tech programs offer internships and externships to their students. These programs assist the students in obtaining practical experience as a vet tech and can make it easier to obtain employment after graduation. In most cases, these programs are offered in partnership with local veterinary clinics or other organizations that make use of veterinary technicians.
An externship allows the student to spend a short time at a practicing veterinary clinic or other facility. While externs usually do not receive compensation or carry out veterinary treatments, these externships can be an excellent way to gain a practical understanding of the various types of duties vet techs undertake.
An externship can be especially valuable for a student who is not yet certain what type of veterinary care he or she wishes to eventually specialize in as a veterinary technician.
In many cases, interns receive compensation for their time and also carry out many of the same duties licensed vet techs perform. Internships can also lead to employment after the student graduates, especially if they impress their supervisors. Additionally, an internship can provide valuable practical experience that cannot be gained in a classroom or lab setting.
Completing the Program and Obtaining a Vet Tech License
When the student graduates, he or she may be required to obtain a license by the state. This usually requires that the student also successfully take and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), in addition to applying to the state’s board of licensure. Many vet tech programs provide assistance to those students preparing to take the VTNE, in order to ensure that they can pass the examination.
In those states that do not require licensure, many vet tech program graduates choose to become credentialed by the state’s professional vet tech association. Although voluntary, a credentialed vet tech usually has better professional and wage opportunities in the veterinary field. The faculty of most vet tech programs includes members of professional vet tech organizations, and these instructors can assist the student in becoming credentialed after their graduation.
Becoming a vet tech is an excellent path to a well paying and secure professional career. By attending an effective vet tech program, the student can help ensure that he or she can become a skilled veterinary technician in today’s animal care industry.