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Animal Health Technician Training and Degree Program Info

Animal health technicians, also known as veterinary technicians, provide assistance with animal care to veterinarians. Undergraduate degrees in veterinary technology prepare students for certification, which is required for employment.

Essential Information

Educational options for this field of study include associate's and bachelor's degree programs in veterinary technology. In order to get admitted, students must have a high school diploma or GED, and may need to undergo a criminal background check and health screening.

Programs may culminate with an internship experience that allows students to gain hands-on animal care experience, as both degree programs are designed to prepare students to take the veterinary technician national examination. This exam is the first step toward obtaining state licensure or certification. Requirements for these credentials vary by state, and students should verify them with their state boards. Other career outcomes include laboratory manager and surgical assistant.


Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology

Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in treating and caring for various types of animals. An associate's degree program in veterinary technology prepares students to work with dogs, cats and other domestic animals in veterinary hospitals and animal shelters. Technicians may work with wild animals in zoos or research facilities.

The curriculum includes exploration of the daily responsibilities of a veterinary technician. Courses in this degree program include:

  • Veterinary terminology
  • Radiography
  • Anesthesia
  • Nutrition
  • Kennel management

Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology

A bachelor's degree program in veterinary technology can be used as a pathway to becoming a veterinary technologist or as a pre-veterinary degree program with a pathway to veterinary medical school. Topics in the program cover small animal nursing, surgical nursing and a course that allows students to explore professional opportunities in veterinary technology. In the final phase of the program, students complete an internship at an area veterinary facility.

Coursework teaches students about animal diseases, physiology, equine surgery and veterinary medicine. Laboratory courses include studies in biological organisms and clinical animal pathology. Courses that are common to this degree program include:

  • Veterinary hospital procedures
  • Preventative care
  • Immunology
  • Veterinary pharmacology
  • Emergency animal medicine

Popular Career Options

Graduates go on to work as veterinary technologists in animal hospitals, veterinarian's offices, and research facilities. Other career options include:

  • Veterinary practice manager
  • Laboratory manager
  • Veterinary teacher
  • Surgical assistant

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinary technicians and technologists held about 95,800 jobs in the United States in 2015. The BLS also predicted that jobs in this profession could grow by 19% between 2014 and 2024. The median salary for veterinary technicians and technologists was reported as $31,800 in May 2015 by the BLS.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates are eligible to take the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE), which is offered through the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). While the AAVSB offers the examination, they do not credential veterinary technicians. Because individual states have different licensing and certification requirements, students should contact their state board for information on becoming a certified or licensed veterinary technician.

Graduates can also pursue continuing education opportunities through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAVT), which include online courses in animal nutrition and dental health. Graduate degree options include master's degrees in animal science, veterinary medicine, veterinary and biomedical science, laboratory animal science and animals and public policy.

With an associate's or bachelor's degree in veterinary technology, certified veterinary technicians can look forward to high demand and many continuing education opportunities to refine and focus their skills.


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