A prerequisite to becoming a licensed veterinarian is a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine. Those interested should enroll in associate’s degree programs in the field, such as an Associate of Science (A.S.) in veterinary technology.
A.S. Programs in Veterinary Technology
Students enrolled in a 2-year associate’s degree program in veterinary technology that carries accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) are trained to seek entry-level jobs as veterinary technicians. They are imparted comprehensive knowledge about clinical laboratory assisting techniques and animal biology. Students enrolled in many programs are also required to participate in an internship that involves working for about two months at a local veterinary facility.
The requirements from students also include performance of the practical tasks they would need to work as technicians in the field. They are taught about communicating with clients at veterinary clinics, dispensing pharmacological drugs, performing assessment procedures on animals, managing anesthetic procedures, handling lab specimens, and using diagnostic radiographic machines among other things.
Four-year universities are among the schools that commonly offer degree programs in veterinary technology. Admission criteria typically require applicants to have accomplished a high school GPA of 2.5 or more. Incoming students are also expected to show proof of high grades in algebra, chemistry, lab science and biology.
Associate’s degree programs in veterinary technology are usually spread across six semesters, with courses related to basic lab science featured in the first half and those related to clinical procedures and skills in the latter half. Coursework may include topic areas such as:
•Small animal care
•Clinical lab methods
•Hematology for veterinary procedures
•Introductory veterinary technology
•Anatomy and physiology
•Large animal nursing
Job and Wage Outlook
Veterinary technicians can seek employment in diagnostic labs, research facilities or licensed veterinarians’ offices. In 2010, 84,800 veterinary technologists and technicians were employed in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals took home a combined average annual wage of $30,290.
Continuing Education and Certification Choices
Passage of an exam administered by a licensing body is required in most states before veterinary technicians can gain certification in the field. However, in several states, the same National Veterinary Technician Exam is used by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners for certification purposes. Veterinary technicians who seek a career advancing in the field can earn a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology to rise to become veterinary technologists, a similar but advanced position.