Can You Become a Vet Tech Online?
Veterinary technicians and technologists provide assistance to veterinarians, as well as perform research in the field of veterinary medicine and animal care. Several schools provide vet tech distance learning options that meet state requirements for certification and licensure.
Veterinary Technician Online Programs
A few schools across the country offer accredited online learning programs for students interested in becoming a veterinary technician. Programs cover similar topics, though prerequisites, eligibility requirements and program outlines vary greatly. Most schools with online vet tech programs require that courses and practicums may be completed in three years, and online scheduling allows working students necessary flexibility. Program criteria may include:
- Completing coursework from a personal computer at home, or attending computer-based courses at an on-campus computer lab
- Previous or current work experience at a veterinary clinic
- On-campus meetings, labs or examinations
- Internship and practical lab experience at an approved veterinary site
- Required software installed on a personal computer
- Completion of general education courses prior to entering the vet tech program
Many colleges and universities that offer both online and on-campus veterinary technician programs allow students to take a combination of distance and on-site courses. Schools may also prohibit non-resident enrollment, and students are encouraged to verify application requirements for a chosen school.
Graduates typically earn an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree, though some bachelor's degree programs are available as well. Programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meet eligibility requirements to take certification and state licensure examinations.
Veterinary Technology Programs
Due to the advanced nature of the training and education, most 2- and 4-year veterinary technology programs can only be completed on campus. Of the 217 programs accredited by the AVMA as of 2013, only eight offer courses online. The few bachelor's programs available may allow students to specialize in a course of study, such as veterinary science, business, emergency medicine or animal diseases. Most schools require several hours of intern training, in addition to required program coursework and general education.
Differences Between Technicians and Technologists
The major differences between veterinary technicians and technologists include management and research skills. Veterinary technicians are typically required to hold an associate's degree. These professionals assist veterinarians with medical procedures, such as dental care, examinations, anesthetics and general nursing for animals. Veterinary technologists often receive specialized training in pharmaceutical research and testing, large animal handling, cellular biology or clinical management in 4-year bachelor's degree programs.
American Association of Veterinary State Boards Certification
Veterinary technicians typically need at least a 2-year associate degree from an AVMA-accredited vet tech program, though some state boards allow related 2- and 4-year degrees. A few states also accept work experience to meet eligibility requirements for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
The American Association of Veterinary State Boards must provide approval to take the VTNE, though individual states award the certification and licensure. The test is only offered three times each year, and applications must be submitted a month prior to the beginning of the examination period. Each state has its own requirements for certification eligibility. Students should check with their state veterinary examination board or association for the necessary qualifications (www.aavsb.org).
State Licensure and Certification
Most states require passage of the VTNE prior to state registration as a vet tech. Scores from the VTNE are submitted directly to the student's state board for review and certification conferral. Some states also provide their own test before awarding licensure. Typically, a fee must be paid to the state board or association responsible for licensing vet techs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for vet tech and technologists were anticipated to increase 30% between 2012 and 2022. Graduates from veterinary technician programs are not expected to meet the demand for the rising number of professionals leaving the field. Veterinary technologists have additional employment options in research facilities providing biomedical advances, diagnostic discoveries and improved safety measures for animal-related products and services (www.bls.gov).
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