An associate's degree program in veterinary medicine provides classes that offer a comprehensive overview of animal biology and nutrition, as well as clinical laboratory assisting techniques. Prerequisites include a high school diploma with a strong background in biology, laboratory science, chemistry, and algebra. Programs typically take two to three years.
Many programs also include an internship experience that requires about two months of work at a local veterinary facility. These programs are often divided among six semesters, the first half of which feature courses related to basic laboratory science and the latter half of which includes courses related to clinical skills and procedures. Veterinary technicians typically need licensure to work in the field, which involves passing an exam.
Associate's Degree in Veterinary Medicine
Students in this program learn how to communicate with clients at veterinary clinics, dispense pharmacological drugs, perform assessment procedures on animals, manage anesthetic procedures, handle laboratory specimens, use diagnostic radiographic machines and more. Learning areas include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Introductory veterinary technology
- Clinical lab methods
- Animal nutrition
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Veterinary technicians can go on to work for licensed veterinarians' offices, research facilities, or diagnostic laboratories. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 112,900 veterinary technologists and technicians working in the United States in 2019, with a projected growth of 16% expected from 2019-2029. The median salary of these positions, as of May 2020, was $36,260 (www.bls.gov).
Certification and Continuing Education
Most states have their own licensing bodies that require veterinary technicians to pass an examination for employment, as well as before gaining voluntary certification in the field. However, the State Board of Veterinary Examiners in several states use the same National Veterinary Technician Exam for certification purposes. Veterinary technicians who are interested in advancing in the field can enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology program to become veterinary technologists, a similar but advanced role.
Students in an associate's degree program in veterinary medicine learn through both classroom work and internships in order to gain employment in the fast-growing veterinary technician field. Graduates should research their states' requirements for licensure to work as veterinary technicians.