Veterinary Tech Certificate and Certification Programs

Read about certificate and certification programs for becoming a veterinary technician. Learn about program prerequisites, course topics and practical training, as well as employment options, certification requirements, salary information and continuing education for aspiring veterinarians.

Essential Information

Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of veterinarians and are responsible for examining animals and performing laboratory tests. Occupational duties include taking blood, preparing tissue samples, exposing x-rays and providing specialized nursing care. Certificate programs in veterinary technology prepare students to take on this role. They include classroom instruction in animal physiology, diseases and care, as well as field experience for gaining practical skills. Students may also learn to assist in dental and surgical procedures for animals. Certificate programs last from 1-3 years and must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Educational Prerequisites

Prospective veterinary tech students must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. High school students are encouraged to take courses that focus on math, biology and science.

Program Coursework

Those enrolled in a veterinary tech certificate program work in an environment supported by laboratories, surgical facilities and animal care rooms. Hands-on experience is stressed throughout a certificate program and classes are offered in:

  • Zoology
  • Animal care and restraint
  • Animal diseases
  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Veterinary clinical techniques
  • Animal nutrition
  • Pharmacology and toxicology

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a certificate program in veterinary technology are qualified to perform technical duties in different settings. Professionals are prepared to work with all types of animal species and deal with various medical ailments on a daily basis. Employment opportunities are available in:

  • Veterinary practices
  • Research and academic institutions
  • Biological laboratories
  • Zoos
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Veterinary Technician Certification

The American Association of Veterinary State Boards certifies three levels of technician competence. A veterinary technician certification takes two years to complete and requires students to pass the National Veterinary Technician exam. The exam includes written, oral and practical questions, designed to test student knowledge of veterinary technology. The AALAS also offers practice tests and study guides to help students pass the exam. Topics covered on the exam include the following:

  • Anesthesia
  • Animal medical techniques
  • Microbiology
  • Surgical procedures
  • Comparative anatomy
  • Physiology

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for veterinary techs were expected to increase 52% from 2010-2020. The growth was attributed to general care and lab work being performed primarily by veterinary techs, freeing up veterinarians to handle more complex and specialized procedures. In May 2012, the BLS reported that veterinary technologists and technicians earned an average of $31,470.

Continuing Education

Associate and bachelor's degrees are available to students wishing to continue their education. These programs train students to perform advanced veterinary medical procedures, and the coursework focuses on nursing and technical duties. To become a veterinarian, students must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program. Veterinarians are responsible for diagnosing, prescribing treatment and performing surgery on all types of animals.

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