Animal Health Technician Certification and Certificate Programs

Prospective animal health technicians must complete an associate's degree program in veterinary technology. With this training, graduates are prepared for the mandatory licensure needed to assist veterinarians in the medical treatment of animals.

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Essential Information

The Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology or Animal Health Technology trains enrolled individuals to provide basic health and medical care for animals. Students participate in classroom-based lecture sessions as well as hands-on experiences in animal hospitals or veterinary clinics. Following graduation, they are eligible for licensure; once licensed, technicians might find jobs in veterinary hospitals, humane societies, zoos or wildlife facilities.

Entrance into these programs typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, prior coursework in college-level math and biology, CPR certification and clinical experience. Requirements vary by program. These programs require two years for completion.

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Associate of Applied Science in Animal Health Technology

An associate level degree trains students in the principles of animal science and applied uses of technology necessary to facilitate domestic pet and wildlife healing and recovery. Animal health technician coursework teaches students to handle sick or injured animals, assist veterinarians and perform laboratory procedures. To complement clinical experience, students complete work in areas such as:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Animal pharmacology
  • Animal diseases
  • Animal nutrition
  • Medical terminology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Job growth for veterinary technologists, including animal health technicians, is expected to grow 19% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2015, the median yearly salary for veterinary technologists was $31,800 (www.bls.gov).

Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information

In order to demonstrate competence in the field, graduates with an associate's degree in animal health must pass the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. This is available from either the State Board of Veterinary Examiners or an equivalent state licensing agency. Those who plan on working in a laboratory setting can pursue additional certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS).

Degree-holders can also choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in animal science or a related field, and many credits may be transferable. This can be followed by graduate studies in the pursuit of becoming a licensed veterinarian.

An associate's degree program can prepare students for a variety of jobs in the veterinary technology or animal health field. Continuing education opportunities are also available for career advancement.

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