Veterinary Technician (Large Animals): Educational Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a veterinary technician who specializes in large animals. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Large animal veterinary technicians work under a veterinarian providing medical care to large animals. They require an associate's degree in a related field and can seek internships to learn their trade. These positions are in high demand with a job outlook much faster than average.

Essential Information

Large animal veterinary technicians perform medical care on horses, cows, goats, sheep and other large animals. These professionals work under the supervision of a veterinarian and may conduct medical lab tests, help clean an animal's teeth, arrange tissue tests, obtain blood samples and support veterinarians during appointments. Such technicians usually earn a two-year degree in the field and must take a national examination to qualify for credentialing; many techs also opt for voluntary certification.

Required Education Associate's degree in veterinary technology
Other Requirements State licensure; Voluntary certifications are available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 19% for veterinary technicians and technologists*
Median Salary (May 2015) $31,800 for veterinary technicians and technologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Educational Requirements for Large Animal Veterinary Technicians

Aspiring large animal veterinary technicians may look to community colleges, technical schools and other postsecondary institutions for training programs. Although programs concentrating exclusively on large animals are rare, most certificate and associate's degree programs provide instruction on large animals and may even have farms or other facilities in which students can gain hands-on experience working with large animals like horses and cows. Some schools may require applicants to have completed specific requirements, such as high school science or math classes, prior to enrolling.


Students may begin their coursework with classes in animal anatomy, physiology and nutrition. As students advance, they may explore more complex issues such as parasites, disease and pharmacology. Additionally, most programs require students to complete lab work in which they may become familiarized with lab equipment, procedures and techniques.


Students in some programs may need to complete internships that may be conducted in clinical settings at veterinary hospitals. Internships may provide students an opportunity to gain experience with medical areas from large animal medicine to animal surgery.

Licensure and Certification

Veterinary technicians are required to pass examinations in most states, although the licensing or certification requirements may vary from state to state. Most states use the National Veterinary Technician exam; however, some may use their own licensing test. Veterinary technicians may also become certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science in order to enhance their employment opportunities.

Career and Salary Outlook for Veterinary Technicians

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide specific job outlook or salary information for veterinary technicians who address issues for large animals exclusively; however, the BLS does report that employment of veterinary technicians and technologists in general is expected to rise by 19% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual wage for veterinary technicians and technologists was $31,800 in May, 2015, reported the BLS.

Veterinary technicians who specialize in large animals assist veterinarians in providing care for horses, cows, goats, sheep and other large animals. To work in this field requires a 2-year degree. Veterinary technicians are also required to obtain a license in most states. Certification is available, though usually voluntary. The annual median salary for these professionals is around $32,000.

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