Veterinary Tech Certificate and Certification Programs

Jan 02, 2019

Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of veterinarians and are responsible for examining animals and performing laboratory tests. Certificate programs prepare students to take these roles and the required national certification exam.

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Essential Information

Veterinary tech certification programs include classroom instruction in animal physiology, diseases and care, as well as field experience for gaining practical skills. Students may also learn to assist in dental and surgical procedures for animals. Certificate programs last from 1-3 years and must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

A high school diploma or equivalent and a high aptitude for math, biology and science are prerequisites for admission to a veterinary tech certificate program. Students will gain experiential learning through hands-on coursework.

Certificate Programs in Veterinary Technology

Students enrolled in these programs work in an environment supported by laboratories, surgical facilities and animal care rooms. Classes are offered in:

  • Zoology
  • Animal care and restraint
  • Animal diseases
  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Veterinary clinical techniques
  • Pharmacology and toxicology

Veterinary Technician Certification

The American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) certifies three levels of technician competence. A veterinary technician certification takes two years to complete and requires students to pass the National Veterinary Technician exam. The exam includes written, oral and practical questions, designed to test student knowledge of veterinary technology. The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) also offers practice tests and study guides to help students pass the exam. Topics covered on the exam include the following:

  • Anesthesia
  • Animal medical techniques
  • Microbiology
  • Surgical procedures
  • Comparative anatomy
  • Physiology

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a certificate program in veterinary technology are qualified to perform technical duties in different settings. Professionals are prepared to work with all types of animal species and deal with various medical ailments on a daily basis. Employment opportunities are available in:

  • Veterinary practices
  • Research and academic institutions
  • Biological laboratories
  • Zoos
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for veterinary technologists and technicians are expected to increase 19% from 2014-2024. The growth projection is attributed to general care and lab work being performed primarily by veterinary techs, freeing up veterinarians to handle more complex and specialized procedures. In May 2015, the BLS reported that veterinary technologists and technicians earned an annual average salary of $33,280.

Continuing Education

Associate and bachelor's degrees are available to students wishing to continue their education. These programs train students to perform advanced veterinary medical procedures, and the coursework focuses on nursing and technical duties. To become a veterinarian, students must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program. Veterinarians are responsible for diagnosing, prescribing treatment and performing surgery on all types of animals.

Certificate programs in veterinary technology equip students with laboratory skills that include taking blood, preparing tissue samples, exposing x-rays and providing specialized nursing care. Graduates are prepared to take the National Veterinary Technician exam, which tests their competence in performing clinical procedures.

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