Most holistic animal care technicians must first pursue credentials as a veterinary technician or veterinary technologist, and then further specialize in holistic care. Learn more about required education, certification/licensure, salary and other career statistics for this field.
Animal care techs are committed to providing the best possible healthcare for pets and lab animals. This care may include holistic health treatments such as massage or acupuncture. They may help veterinarians provide treatment to companion and working animals in animal hospitals, shelters or research facilities. Most of these animal care professionals are veterinary technicians or technologists. Each position requires different levels of post-secondary education.
|Required Education||An associate's degree for veterinary technicians, a bachelor's degree for veterinary technologists|
|Other Requirements||Licensure after passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||19% (for veterinary technicians and technologists)*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$31,800 (for veterinary technicians and technologists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A combination of formal degree preparation, state licensing and continuing education training is generally required to pursue a career in holistic animal care. Most animal care techs are veterinary technicians or veterinary technologists. While each career title requires a different degree, the job duties and licensing requirements are extremely similar.
Veterinary Technology and Related Degree Programs
Veterinary technicians must earn an associate's degree in veterinary technology, while veterinary technologists earn a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology or a related field, such as animal health science or laboratory animal science. These programs train students to provide standard veterinary care services to animals. They may perform tests, administer medications, assist in surgical procedures and record pertinent health information. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs also prepare students to sit for a required state licensing exam.
Students take classroom and laboratory classes in animal anatomy and physiology, animal nutrition, biology and chemistry. Animal-centered anesthesiology, pharmacology, radiology, dentistry, emergency care, critical care and pathology are also covered. Students also learn applicable animal care laws and regulations, how to care for animals in a lab setting and how to participate in the operation of a veterinary medical practice. Internship or clinical- care experiences are required.
Licensing and Certification
State licensing requirements can vary but most require the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Written, oral and practical testing is common. Licensing usually expires periodically, often every year or biannually and must be renewed.
Specialized certification is available through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science for those working in animal research labs. Available credentials include Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG).
Voluntary Continuing Education
After earning a degree in veterinary technology, animal health science or a related field, animal care techs can continue their education through courses and certificate programs offered by animal massage schools. Some of these schools specialize in working with specific animals, such as horses, while others provide training on animals of all types and sizes. Programs may also include reiki, aromatherapy and acupressure.
Other continuing education options are available to members of professional organizations such as the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork and the Association of Canine Water Therapy. Some training may be available on a distance-learning basis; however, most programs do require some hands on work.
Holistic animal care techs require a background as a veterinary technologist or technician, which means an associate's or bachelor's degree. They then need knowledge of holistic care, such as massage, acupuncture, or other alternative treatments. Job opportunities for veterinary techs are very good for the next few years, with the field expanding much faster than average.