A number of colleges and universities offer American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-accredited distance learning programs in veterinary technology. Whether at the certificate or associate degree level, programs are usually modeled after their on-campus counterparts and require general education classes, specific veterinary course content and in-person clinical experiences.
Both certificate and associate degree distance learning programs in veterinary technology include common coursework relating to animal care and lab work. These courses may include:
- Animal nursing
- Clinical pathology
- Diagnostic imaging
- Medical terminology for veterinary technicians
- Pharmacology and toxicology
- Small animal diseases
- Veterinary surgical assisting and anesthesia
Students may be required to have a certified veterinarian as a mentor for clinical courses. The student must work a given number of hours in a clinic learning how to give shots, draw blood and perform other clinical practices. Even though the mentor signs a skills check list as the student masters various techniques, the schools often require a video of the task or skill being performed. Other clinical procedures, such as X-rays, may also need to be sent for evaluation.
How Programs Work
Distance learning programs in veterinary technology generally require a reliable computer and Internet connection. Classes may use videos, textbooks, Internet assignments and tests. Students communicate with one another and the instructor in several ways, such as live chats, message boards, e-mail and telephone.
Veterinary technology certificate programs are typically designed for those wishing to gain the entry-level skills necessary to become an assistant in a veterinary practice or work in pet shops or rescue shelters.
Graduates with associate degrees in veterinary technology generally become veterinary technicians. Vet techs work on both small and large animals. They may restrain animals so the veterinarian can do an examination or assist in surgery, even administering the anesthesia. Veterinary technicians may also take and read X-rays, perform laboratory procedures or administer emergency care; they may also be responsible for record keeping. Every state requires veterinary technology graduates to take a credentialing exam prior to working as a vet tech; many states also require certification.
Degrees in veterinary technology are available via distance learning, particularly at the certificate and associate levels. Programs provide students with the skills required for veterinary assistant and veterinary technician career paths.