Individuals who are looking to become vet techs through online programs can consider a wide range of factors when deciding whether to enroll, including online learning format options, degree possibilities, admission requirements, and program requirements. It is also helpful to understand the difference between vet technicians and technologists, as well as the requirements for certification.
Veterinary Tech Online Programs
Various schools across the country offer accredited online learning programs for students interested in becoming a veterinary tech. However, the programs typically consist of a mixture of academic coursework and on-site practical training. These undergraduate degree programs may last between two and four years and cover similar topics, though prerequisites, eligibility requirements and program outlines can vary.
Hands-on clinical experiences are usually undertaken at an approved veterinary site near the student, though it's important to note that some schools limit clinical sites to specific states, or they may not be able to offer distance education to students in certain states.
Graduates typically earn an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. Distance learning programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meet eligibility requirements to become a registered veterinary technician.
The few online bachelor's programs available for aspiring veterinary technologists may allow students to specialize in a course of study, such as vet hospital management, equine studies, companion animals and advanced clinical applications. Most of these bachelor's programs only admit students who have already graduated from an AVMA-approved associate's program.
Common prerequisites for online vet tech programs include:
- High school diploma/GED
- High school coursework in the following subjects:
- Previous work experience in veterinary clinic settings
- Observation hours at a veterinary clinic
- SAT/ACT Scores
Prior to graduation, aspiring vet techs are typically required to fulfill a certain number of classroom and clinical credits. Some topics of study include:
- Animal disease
- Small and large animal nursing
Differences Between Technicians and Technologists
The major differences between veterinary technicians and technologists include management and research skills. Veterinary technicians are typically required to hold an associate's degree. These professionals assist veterinarians with medical procedures and other tasks, such as:
- Dental care
- General nursing for animals
Veterinary technologists often need to have completed a four-year bachelor's degree program, and they may receive specialized training in areas such as pharmaceutical research and testing, clinical management, cellular biology or large animal handling. They may work in veterinary offices, but many also work in laboratory settings where they assist scientists with veterinary research. In these jobs, some of their duties can include:
- Collecting laboratory samples like blood, urine or tissue
- Preparing tissue samples for further study
- Giving lab animals medications
- Recording observations in animal studies
American Association of Veterinary State Boards Certification
Veterinary technicians typically need at least a 2-year associate degree from an AVMA-accredited vet tech program, though some state boards allow related 2- and 4-year degrees. A few states also accept work experience to meet eligibility requirements for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
The American Association of Veterinary State Boards must provide the approval to take the VTNE, though individual states award certification. The test is only offered during three time windows each year, and applications must be submitted a month prior to the beginning of the examination period. Each state has its own requirements for certification eligibility. Students should check with their state veterinary examination board or association for the necessary qualifications.
State Licensure and Certification
Most states require passage of the VTNE prior to state registration as a vet tech. Scores from the VTNE are submitted directly to the student's state board for review and certification conferral. Some states also provide their own test before awarding licensure. Typically, a fee must be paid to the state board or association responsible for licensing vet techs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for vet tech and technologists were anticipated to increase 19% between 2014 and 2024. Veterinary technologists have additional employment options in research facilities providing biomedical advances, diagnostic discoveries and improved safety measures for animal-related products and services.
Aspiring vet techs can find relevant online training programs that provide science and veterinary practice-focused coursework, which can help them prepare for licensure and career success.