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How do I Earn a Veterinary Technician Degree?

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  • Written By: Vicki Hogue-Davies
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2018
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If you want to earn a veterinary technician degree, expect to complete two to four years of study. Veterinary technician degree programs are offered at community colleges and four-year colleges and universities; accredited online distance-learning programs are also available. In the United States, veterinary technician degree programs are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. There are more than 100 accredited programs, with the majority offering two-year associate degrees. To be admitted to a veterinary technician program, be sure to take basic sciences such as biology and chemistry in high school, as well as algebra and other math courses.

Earning a veterinary technician associate in science degree typically takes two years of full-time study, including coursework and hands-on time spent working in a veterinary practice or other animal-related setting. Depending on the program you choose and its structure, this two-year period might include general education requirements and program prerequisites. A few examples of core courses during the first year of study for a veterinary technician degree include subjects such as anatomy and physiology, animal care and microbiology. Second-year course examples include clinical pathology, anesthesia and emergency and critical care. During or following the completion of coursework, you also will complete a number of hours of on-the-job instruction.

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Four-year programs in veterinary technology, animal health science and related areas also will prepare you to work as a veterinary technician. Technically, people who earn bachelor's degrees in the field are called veterinary technologists, but they commonly are referred to as veterinary technicians. Some four-year programs provide several areas of concentration to choose from, such as clinical applications, hospital management and others. Coursework in four-year programs can vary depending on the area of concentration selected but usually will include general education classes, program prerequisites and core courses in animal science and veterinary technology, with additional classes in the concentration area.

Some programs at both two- and four-year schools provide distance-learning degrees. Courses are the same as those taught in traditional classrooms, but they are completed online. Concurrent with coursework or following the completion of courses, students work with animals in internship or externship programs. Successfully completing a degree program also usually requires a minimum grade-point average, which typically is a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale, or a "C" average.

Following successful completion of a two- or four-year veterinary technician degree program, you will be eligible to sit for your state’s regulatory examination. Passing a state examination is required before you can work as a veterinary technician or veterinary technologist. Depending on where you live, you might be credentialed as a licensed veterinary technician (LVT), a registered veterinary technician (RVT) or a certified veterinary technician (CVT).

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