In order to pursue certification as a veterinary technician, individuals must first earn an accredited degree such as an Associate of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology. Fully online and hybrid programs in this field can be found at community colleges, four-year institutions and private career schools. Like on-campus coursework, the distance learning curriculum focuses on preparing aspiring veterinary technicians to perform the following duties under a veterinarian's supervision:
- Collect samples or specimens from animals
- Assist with diagnostic or medical procedures
- Perform lab tests
- Maintain patient records
- Provide animal care education to owners
While most coursework can be completed entirely online, hybrid programs may necessitate on-campus courses, sessions or a practicum in a local vet office.
Degrees & Coursework
To enroll in an online vet tech degree program, students must have a high school diploma or GED. Satisfactory placement test scores and/or grades in prerequisite courses (such as those in math) may be considered in admissions decisions as well. In some cases, distance learning bachelor's programs are designed for students who already have an associate's degree in veterinary technology.
Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology
Online veterinary technology programs allow students flexibility with their busy schedules to complete associate's degree programs in 2-5 years. Students may even begin working in veterinarian offices as pet nurses or assistants while studying in this program. Licensing may be required by some states before graduates can accept jobs as veterinary technologists.
Online coursework is taught through multimedia web-based programs as well as textbooks. Programs may require on-campus courses or sessions as well as a practicum in a local vet office to get hands-on experience. Distance learners complete general education classes in addition to studying the following areas:
- Animal anatomy
- Small and large animal nursing skills
- Animal pharmacology
- Animal diseases
- Animal anesthesiology
- Lab work
- Diagnostic imaging skills
- Veterinary math
Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that 4-year veterinary technology programs more commonly lead to the title of technologist rather than technician (www.bls.gov). The responsibilities of a technologist are very much like that of a technician, but a technologist may have more opportunities with a wider range of employers, including facilities that conduct research. This degree could also prepare the way if the student later chooses to work toward a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Like those with associate's degrees, graduates of a bachelor's program will be required to be fully licensed by their state.
This program offers interactive online learning with textbooks or in-class learning to best meet the needs of the student. Whether presented online or in the classroom, coursework will follow the same requirements for completion of this degree. Online students must meet general education requirements and may be required, or at least given the option, to complete an internship. Distance learning courses may include:
- Animal anatomy
- Veterinary terminology
- Veterinary procedures
- Clinical practices
- Animals nursing
- Animal diseases
- Exotic pets
- Laboratory skills
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), most states have a veterinary medical examiner or a department that administers an exam to graduates of an accredited veterinary technology associate's or bachelor's degree. The Veterinary Technician National Examination, called the VTNE, is used by many states. A satisfactory score on the exam will result in the license or certification necessary to practice in that state. Like many credentials, veterinary technicians who wish to maintain a valid license will need to complete continuing education throughout their career.
In undergraduate programs, aspiring veterinary technicians are introduced to the basics of animal care treatment and care; they also get a general education. When they finish, they can take the national examination for technician licensure so that they can start working in the field.