Associate of Veterinary Technology: Degree Overview

An associate's degree in veterinary technology is the standard degree for veterinary technicians. Veterinary technology students can learn to provide pre- and post-operative care, use diagnostic equipment, anesthetize animals and interact with animal owners.

Essential Information

Students with an associate's degree in veterinary technology are qualified to work under the supervision of licensed veterinarians as technicians in animal clinics, hospitals or research institutions. Some programs may require students to observe at a veterinary facility for a specified number of hours or have animal care experience. Clinicals are required in this program.


Associate of Veterinary Technology Degree

The veterinary technology associate's degree curriculum includes classroom lectures and laboratory training. Students also participate in clinical education, which provides students the opportunity to gain on-the-job training at animal care facilities. Typical classes taken while pursuing the associate's degree include:

  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Animal nutrition and radiology
  • Veterinary surgical care and laboratory procedures
  • Parasitology and microbiology
  • Veterinary medical terminology

Employment Outlook and Salary

Graduating with an associate's degree in veterinary technology can prepare students to become veterinary technicians in animal clinics, zoos, research labs, humane societies and veterinary hospitals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 19% growth rate for veterinary technician jobs during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). Most veterinary technicians are employed at private veterinary offices. In May 2015 veterinarian technicians earned a median annual income of $31,800, according to the BLS.

Certification Information and Continuing Education

Many states require veterinary technicians to become licensed, certified or registered, according to the BLS. This is done in most states by passing the National Veterinary Technician exam. Those working in research can acquire certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. A combination of education and professional experience is needed for certification eligibility.

To advance to a veterinary technologist position, students need to earn a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. An additional two years of full-time study is required for an associate's degree holder to earn a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. Students continue taking veterinary technology classes and may be able to choose a concentration in a specific field. They also receive more practical education and some schools allow students to choose clinical or research learning, depending on their career goals.

The associate's degree in veterinary technology is a mixture of academic coursework and clinical hands-on experience. Students should note that many states require veterinary technicians to be licensed and pass the national exam.


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