Veterinarian Assistant Training Programs and Requirements

Although veterinary technicians perform many of the same duties veterinary technologists do, technologists may have completed additional training and be qualified for more advanced positions. Associate and bachelor degrees prepare individuals to work with veterinarians during a variety tasks.

Essential Information

Most veterinarians require that assistants hold at least an associate's degree in veterinary technology from an accredited community college or technical school. Associate's-level programs generally take two years or less to complete. Some students, particularly those interested in veterinary technologist positions, may choose to complete a bachelor's degree program in the field. All states require prospective veterinarian assistants to pass an examination before seeking employment. This exam may result in a license, certification or registration; the exact credential varies by state.

  • Program Levels: Associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees
  • Program Length: 2 years for associate's degrees, 4 years for bachelor's degrees
  • Online Availability: Many schools offer online programs
  • Other Requirements: Clinical experiences may be expected in order to graduate.

Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology

An Associate of Science degree program in veterinary technology introduces students to a number of basic veterinary topics, such as animal health care and management. Students learn animal anatomy and physiology and may engage in practical, clinical experience with live animals at a local veterinary office. Some course topics might include:

  • Animal anatomy
  • Small animal breeds and behavior
  • Animal nursing
  • Animal physiology
  • Large animal diseases
  • Animal medicine

Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology

The Bachelor of Science degree in veterinary technology is earned through a 4-year undergraduate degree program. Students in such a program may take many of the same courses available in an associate's degree program, such as veterinary pharmacology and veterinary radiology. The B.S. program may be more comprehensive and prepares students to assist with more complicated procedures and tests. Clinical study at a nearby veterinary office is usually included in the curriculum. Course topics might include:

  • Principles and prevention of livestock diseases
  • Intro to veterinary anatomy
  • Functional histology
  • General pharmacology and toxicology
  • Neurobiology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS states that veterinary assistants, as of May 2014, make an average yearly wage of $25,370. The BLS also states that from 2012 to 2022, the employment for these assistants is expected to grow 10%, which is as fast as the average.

Continuing Education Information

Although the process may differ by state, all states require veterinary technicians and technologists to be credentialed in some fashion. The credentialing process usually includes passing written, oral and practical portions of an exam. Many states use the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam.

Workshops may be available to students who are interested in veterinary technology and would like to know more about the field. Other courses and seminars may be available to veterinarian assistants who would like to stay current on new types of veterinary equipment and advances in treatment. General veterinary conferences often include workshops or courses that relate directly to veterinarian assistants.

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