A veterinary technician (or vet tech) is trained to assist a licensed veterinarian in medical, surgical and laboratory procedures. Training is typically a mix of classroom learning and hands-on experience, because the American Veterinary Medical Association requires that students complete internships prior to licensure.
Students interested in earning a veterinary technician degree fully online may enroll in associate programs or, less commonly, bachelor's degree programs. Some of these programs are designed for people who already work with a veterinarian, since hands-on experience is required. Other programs allow students without experience to gain clinical skills at approved locations.
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Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology
The most common online veterinary technology degree is the Associate of Applied Science (AAS). An AAS in Veterinary Technology can be earned in as little as two years, although schools may allow students up to five years to complete this program.
Information and Requirements
Programs may require anywhere from 60-75 credits, which typically take two years to achieve. However, there may be a delay in course availability if schools only offer certain veterinary technician courses online every few semesters or years--so students must plan their schedules accordingly. Participants may also be required to travel to approved sites for proctored examinations and to complete clinical experiences. Most coursework is hosted online, but if textbooks are required in addition to materials delivered online, it will be announced during registration or when classes start.
A veterinary technician must be prepared to work with a variety of animals, but also be available to assist in business operations. As a result, associate degree programs include medical, science and business courses. Students also learn about the uses and affects of various medications. They practice drawing blood and obtaining specimens for laboratory examination.
Anatomy and Physiology
In anatomy and physiology courses, students study the organ systems of large and small animals, including non-traditional pets, such as reptiles. They also learn about histology and genetics.
Office Management for Veterinary Practices
Lessons touch upon the reception protocols, computer programs and financial practices used in veterinary offices. A veterinary technician may also be trained in animal behavior and grief counseling. These courses include topics such as inventory control, accountability and personnel management.
Veterinary Nursing Care
Students learn bandaging, medication administering and medical sample collecting techniques. These courses also cover dentistry, small animal care and problems with specific bodily systems, including the cardiovascular and digestive systems.
A graduate with a vet tech degree can find employment in veterinary clinics or animal hospitals. Duties include performing anesthesia and radiology, nursing sick animals and collecting biological samples for laboratory analysis. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary technicians and technologists earned between $21,890 and $47,410 in May 2015. Veterinary technician jobs are projected to increase by as much as 19% from 2014-2024.
Continuing Education Information
Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology programs are available, and may be offered online. They are more commonly available on college campuses. A bachelor's degree takes approximately four years to complete and may require additional internships and clinical experiences. Some schools accept transfer credits from the earned AAS.
The most common online degree program for aspiring veterinary technicians is at the associate's level. Graduates may go on to pursue bachelor's degrees in the field after mastering concepts like animal anatomy, veterinary nursing care and office management.