Veterinary technician training begins with a love of animals and a high school diploma. Students can decide for themselves whether they want to obtain an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s diploma after that. Certification is also required in most states, and continuing education opportunities are also available for those who want them.
As soon as a person chooses a career in veterinary technology, he or she should enroll in as many mathematics and science courses as possible. Biology and chemistry are good choices, but if anatomy and especially zoology are available, they should be taken as well. Computer knowledge is also vital to this career. Communications courses are necessary to help prepare for client interaction. Any animal clubs and organizations offered by the school or community, such as 4H Club, are also helpful in preparation for this career. Candidates should take part in any school volunteer programs with local animal shelters or vocational-technical programs in partnership with colleges when available.
One career path toward becoming a veterinary technician is through the associate’s degree in veterinary technology. This degree typically takes one to two years, depending upon summer attendance and number of credits per semester. During this training, students learn routine lab procedures, how to conduct x-rays, and emergency medical care for various types of animals. Animal anatomy and physiology are key concepts during this educational period. Techs also learn how to comfort and calm frightened animals, as well as how to soothe their pain. The cost of an associate’s degree for a veterinary technician averages $2,544 per school year plus lab fees while attending a state community college.
Another career path that vet techs can take is through the bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s program in veterinary medicine opens more doors for assistance, providing students with more experience and credentials in order to quickly get hired, obtain better paying positions and even become a veterinarian if they choose to eventually do so. Coursework at this level also includes subjects such as radiology, anesthesia, and nursing care for animals during medical procedures. Students also learn how to educate their clients about pet care and health. The cost of a bachelor’s degree in this field averages $8,244 per year when the student opts to attend a school in which he resides.
Most states require veterinary technicians to become certified by taking an exam. This test is called the Veterinary Technician National Examination. The exam consists of 225 multiple choice questions and can be taken within three different testing windows each year. Online practice exams cost $45 and the test itself costs $300 to take. Students who pass the exam earn the credentials afforded to a veterinary technician as well as proof of their competence in the field. Students should schedule an appointment with Prometric Testing Centers found across the country.
The varied options available for veterinary technician candidates make it a competitive career. The position offers higher wages than a typical veterinary assistant’s job and is open to upward mobility, making the veterinary technician education obtained very worthwhile.