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Online Vet Tech Programs: Become a Veterinary Technician Quickly

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A.J. Simmons dreamed of working in a veterinarian office since elementary school, his love for animals driving his very first career choice. As A.J. grew older, he found that he might not be able to fulfill all of the educational requirements to become a full-on veterinarian, but he had the resources and drive to pursue other positions in a vet’s office.

After working as a veterinary assistant at a local clinic for a year, A.J. realized he preferred working directly alongside a veterinarian, interested in the equipment and medical administration used during x-rays, surgery, diagnosis, and treatment. He pursued his associate’s degree in veterinary medicine online, passed the licensing exams provided by his state, and became a registered veterinary technician. Online vet tech programs and schools quickly get you to the job market.

Now A.J. works full-time in a veterinary office, sometimes in emotional and distressing situations. He guides pet owners through rough decisions and goodbyes, provides treatment for sick pets, and works with a team to ensure the highest quality of professionalism in the veterinary world. In the future he may pursue a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science, which could earn him the role of technologist, or take the leap and earn a doctorate degree to become a veterinarian and start his own practice.

If you are like A.J. and ready to pursue your professional career as a veterinarian technician, this article will supply you with the what, how, why, and outcomes of becoming a vet technician today.

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Assistants vs. Techs vs. Veterinarians

Veterinary AssistantVeterinary TechnicianVeterinary TechnologistVeterinarian
EducationHigh school diploma or equivalency

May earn a certificate to remain competitive

 

2 year associate’s degree

Credentialing and licensing by state

4 year bachelor’s degree

Credentialing and licensing by state

Doctoral or professional degree

Credentialing and licensing by state

DutiesPet owner interactions

Office duties

Basic pet care

Sanitation of pet areas

Assisting veterinarian or technician with animal restraint

Veterinarian assistive duties

Wound care

Medication administration

Surgical preparation and assistance

Clinical pathology

Patient/pet care

Anesthesia

Surgical assistance

Radiology

 

Assess & diagnose health issues

Perform surgery

Advise owners

Prescribe medication

Euthanize

Median Yearly Salary$28,590$35,320$35,320$95,460

How to Become a Vet Technician

There are three steps to becoming a certified veterinary technician:

  1. Earn your high school diploma or equivalency;
  2. Graduate from a two-year associate’s degree program in veterinary technology from an accredited school;
  3. Pass the Veterinary Technician National licensing exam required in your state.

Once you have completed these steps to certification, you can take more steps to remain a competitive candidate in the veterinary field:

  1. Pursue NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America) membership;
  2. Begin your career search to find a job best suited to your professional goals;
  3. Explore certification and continuing education opportunities.

Online Vet Tech Programs

Veterinary technician programs are available across the nation. You can earn your degree by attending community college or university traditionally on-campus, or more flexibly online with hybrid or blended formats available.

As with many online degree programs, there are practical experiences required that must be completed in person. Virtual vet tech schools may offer placement assistance with this part of the course requirements. Because of the specific nature of online classes—basically the ability to take them according to the student’s schedule rather than the school’s schedule—an online student may find the practical part of the degree requirements is easier to accomplish while maintaining a full-time work schedule.

All of the usual college bonuses exist in online formats, including assistance from instructors and advisors, online libraries, student-led study groups, and access to course materials. Unlike regular college classes, students are not limited to normal class hours when seeking assistance. For someone who is already working in a veterinary facility, online vet tech programs—with class work after work—will help add practical experience to the material being studied.

For the veterinary technician, a two year associate’s degree from an accredited online college or technical school is required before certification. The online vet tech school should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, like Ashworth College. Once a degree is completed, the aspiring vet tech will need to take and pass a licensing exam according to their state’s laws.

Associate Degree Programs for Veterinary Technicians

Let’s revisit A.J. Simmons, who decided to advance his education and become a veterinary technician. By committing to an online vet tech associate degree program, he was able to volunteer and/or work in his field as a qualified veterinary assistant while earning his degree. Completing a vet tech program takes approximately two years. Throughout four semesters, there will be an emphasis on the following areas:

  • English, business, and technical writing, including history documentation and record keeping
  • Computer applications, mathematics, veterinary office management and facilitation of a veterinary practice, laboratory and research
  • Genetics, reproduction, nutrition and aging of companion and domesticated animals, as well as farm animals
  • Diagnostic imaging inclusive of radiation and ultrasound performance, development, and related protocols
  • Anesthesiology and surgical procedures to include preparation for, assistance during and proper sterilization techniques at all stages
  • Anatomy and physiology of animals, the mechanics of the animal body
  • Pharmacology as related to veterinary medicine
  • Animal diseases, including pathology, immunology, and parasitology, both an overview and breed specific

Once A.J. completed his associate’s degree, it was pertinent to then pursue licensing.  Most states will administer the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).  A.J. worked hard to pass his exam, using tools provided by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards website to apply, schedule, and study for the VTNE.

Vet Tech Responsibilities

As a veterinary assistant at the beginning of his career, A.J. was responsible for administrative duties including billing, appointments and scheduling.  He was expected to understand common medical terms, respond to client questions, manage patients and maintain operations.  The closest he came to working directly with animals came in the form of feeding, exercising, cleaning and observing each pet coming through his facility, or assisting techs and vets in animal restraint during procedures. 

Upon becoming a vet technician, he noticed some overlap in his work as an assistant, but also began building more responsibilities.  His title brought on duties including:

  • Speaking with pet owners to obtain an animal’s medical history, inclusive of the current issues. Obtaining and utilizing medical reports, laboratory results, and other pertinent information as needed;
  • Completing tasks related to patient surgery, such as patient prep (shaving surgical area and anesthesia administration), care following surgery, medical record updates, and helping the vet during surgery;
  • Filling and dispensing prescription medications as ordered by the veterinarian;
  • Fulfilling laboratory work including the collection and preparation of specimen(s) for blood work, urinalysis, and microbiological and parasitic identification;
  • Acting as an animal nurse. Assisting during procedures—including pre-and-post operative preparation. Assisting in diagnostics and the preparation of medical equipment and instruments for surgery and other procedures. Administering injections, medications, and wound care (cleaning, medication application, bandaging).

Career Opportunities

With a U.S. pet population pushing the hundreds of millions, veterinary technicians will maintain a high job outlook throughout 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  There are, as reported by NAVTA, currently 17 specialty areas of recognition veterinary technicians occupy:

  • Anesthesia and Analgesia
  • Behavior
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Clinical Practice
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Equine Nursing
  • Internal Medicine
  • Laboratory Animal
  • Nutrition
  • Ophthalmology
  • Surgery
  • Zoological Medicine
  • Physical Rehabilitation
  • Surgical Technician
  • Diagnostic Imaging

Veterinary technicians can look forward to a 16% growth in employment. What this translates into is the addition of approximately 20,000 new jobs throughout 2029. The education that a veterinary technician receives increases their median yearly salary to $35,320 or roughly $16.98 per hour. As with vet assistants, technicians will experience differences in both hourly wage and yearly salary depending on where in the country they find employment. With an education geared toward animal care, technicians have a wide array of employment possibilities. From private practice clinics to laboratories to zoos, adding to their education only grows their career options.

Continuing Education

As with any career in science, mathematics and technology, the progression of the field is driven by field journals, podcasts, news sources, and other networks of information.  Continuing your education after becoming a licensed vet tech is easy with the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Approved Continuing Education program.  Stay up to date in your practice by attending the annual National Veterinary Technician Week (NVTW) to network and be celebrated for your work.  There is always a way to stay connected in today’s technology-driven, highly connected marketplace.

Start Becoming A Vet Tech Today!

There are thousands of humans like A.J. who run with their career choice until they meet their professional goals.  Entering the veterinary technician job market can be an exceptional career choice, and the steps taken are accessible to those just starting out as well as those who’ve advanced their education with one of many online vet tech programs.  When you are a vet tech, you are also a nurse, laboratory and radiography technician, client educator, and right hand to a veterinarian.  To begin this fulfilling career, you’ve already taken the first step in reading a GetEducated article.  Click the link below to search for compatible degree options and start becoming a vet tech today!

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