What Education is Needed to Become a Vet Tech?
Typically, entry-level veterinary technician positions require at minimum a two-year associate degree. There are more than 100 schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (see: What is the AVMA?) where interested individuals can prepare for this exciting and rewarding career choice. In these programs, courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live animals. Over a dozen schools around the country offer veterinary technology programs which are longer and culminate in a bachelor degree in veterinary technology. Several veterinary schools offer courses via online distance learning.
Licensure and Certification Requirements
Graduation from an AVMA accredited veterinary school program allows students to take the credentialing exam in any state in the country. Each State regulates veterinary technicians and technologists differently; however, all states require passing a credentialing exam following college completion.
Pass an Exam
Passing a state exam assures the public that the veterinary technician or technologist has sufficient knowledge to work in an animal clinic or hospital. Candidates are tested for competency through an examination that includes oral, written, and practical portions. The exam is regulated by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners or an appropriate State agency. Depending on the state, candidates may become registered, licensed, or certified. Most states use the National Veterinary Technician exam. Employers recommend American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certification for anyone seeking employment in a research facility. AALAS offers certification which focuses on three principal areas. These focal areas are animal husbandry, facility management, and animal health and welfare.
On the Job Training Necessary
Anyone who wishes to become certified must satisfy a combination of education and experience requirements prior to taking the AALAS examination. Work experience must be directly related to the maintenance, health, and well-being of laboratory animals and must be gained in a laboratory animal facility as defined by AALAS.
Veterinarian Continuing Education Opportunities
The AVMA offers continuing education opportunities through attendance at their national convention held annually – the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association – and one to five day continuing education courses held at various locations throughout the country. Completing continuing education units provides vet techs the opportunity to advance within the animal health care industry.
Paying for Veterinary Tech School
Students in accredited veterinary tech schools are eligible to receive financial aid from federal sources and other sources of free money to pay for this education. Additional alternative funding is available through unsecured Sallie Mae loans.
Making Connections as a Veterinarian Assistant
A veterinary technician is an essential person in the treatment of animals, because this professional is the right arm of a veterinarian. After completing entry level education requirements, graduates often have little difficulty finding employment considering it is the fastest growing career field in the animal care industry.
Job Outlook is Good
Between now and 2016, the employment outlook is an increase of over 29,000, for a 41 percent increase in employees according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This places this career field as one of the top 10 growing occupations in the country today. (Source: Diesel Mechanic Schools)
Although it takes a minimum of a two-year education commitment, the personal and professional rewards received are worth all the effort.