A veterinary technician takes care of injured or ill animals and maintains their health. He or she often works under the supervision of a veterinarian. Veterinary technicians look after the welfare of cats, dogs, farm and zoo animals, and exotic pets and help them feel at ease during medical procedures. Unlike what many people think, veterinary technicians are different from veterinary technologists because they require less education.
How to Become a Veterinary Technician
To become a veterinary technician, one needs a two-year associate’s degree in veterinary technology. An alternative route would be to complete an associate’s degree in animal science.
There are community colleges that require applicants to render 16 to 20 hours of observation in a veterinary clinic aside from a high school diploma to get into an associate’s degree program in for veterinary technology. Students will be taught about animal behavior, animal pharmacology, animal diseases, clinical practices, and veterinary hospital management. The program also develops the communication skills of the students to mold veterinary technicians who can talk to pet owners and follow the direction of the veterinarians efficiently. There are also classes for general education requirements in the basic sciences and humanities.
As for the training of aspiring veterinary technicians, hands-on experience in a veterinary hospital is often required. Externships must be completed during the last semester of the associate degree program. But if the last semester is not long enough to complete the high hourly requirement of the externship, the students might need to complete it during the summer between their first and second year enrolled in the program. During the externship, the students assist veterinarians by weighing animals, taking blood samples, and sterilizing surgical instruments. Students will also learn to deal with difficult animals, cope with stressful situations, and keep their emotions in check while at work.
Online Courses for a Veterinary Technician
Most online courses for aspiring veterinary technicians are hybrid programs that combine conventional, offline teaching methods with online methods. The lecture is given online, while the practicum is completed in a veterinary hospital or a clinical environment.
Many of the top online programs allow students to find a certified American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) vet in your area to help you complete your externship requirements, which is usually more than 250 hours.
It would be safer to find online veterinary technician programs in schools that are accredited by the AVMA or the National Association of Veterinary Technology in America (NAVTA) because these schools tend to produce the most successful graduates.
When taken online, an associate’s degree in veterinary technology that usually requires two years of study may extend to three to five years of schooling. This is because the program usually covers several courses, as well as clinical experiences. Moreover, schools also put into consideration that most of the students taking online programs are working adults, hence the need to offer the course on a part-time basis.
The coursework is completed through chat rooms and message boards. Exams may be conducted on-site or at an approved location monitored by a proctor. Clinical experiences are also supervised by a licensed veterinarian.
Importance of Getting a Certification to become a Veterinary Technician
Most states require a license among veterinary technicians. Although requirements vary from one state to the next, the general requirement is for candidates to complete a state-approved program and pass an exam. Those who passed the National Veterinary Technician Exam may be exempted from taking the test. Veterinary technicians who want to work in research settings can obtain a specialty certification provided by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS).
Since not all veterinary technicians are certified, being locally or nationally certified will give one an edge to advance in the field. This means opportunities to find better paying jobs or to pursue a veterinary technician degree.
Continuing education to keep the license current will make one competitive enough to aim for higher paying positions in city and state control shelters and animal shelters.