Veterinary technicians help veterinarians examine and treat animals. Some vet techs also work with animals in laboratory settings. Depending on where you live, you may need to earn a vet tech degree in order to pursue this career. This typically means spending two years working to earn an associate's degree or four years working to earn a bachelor's degree. In many places, however, an associate's degree is the minimum level of education you'll need to land a job in this field.
Before you can earn a vet tech degree, you'll usually need to obtain a high school diploma or an equivalent credential that is recognized in your area. You may begin to prepare for earning a college education in this field while you are still at the high school level. Science classes, especially those related to animals and animal anatomy, may help prepare you for a vet tech program. Additionally, taking part in volunteer opportunities that involve working with animals may help prepare you for the hands-on part of a vet tech program.
Once you are ready to enroll in a vet tech program, you may find schools that offer both associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs. Many employers will accept job candidates with either credential, though some may consider those with four-year degrees more attractive job candidates. You may also consider earning a bachelor's degree if you are hoping to advance in the veterinary care field or eventually become a veterinarian.
Often two-year vet tech degree programs include courses in veterinary technology; biology; and animal anatomy and physiology. The programs may also include coursework in medical mathematics, diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, surgical procedures, animal diseases, and animal pharmacology. You may also take office management, writing, and computer courses as you work toward a vet tech degree. The exact makeup of a vet tech program may vary, however, depending on the school in which you enroll.
Bachelor's-level vet tech programs often cover the same topics that are studied in an associate's degree program. These programs often include more in-depth study of related topics, however, and may cover a wider range of subjects than associate's degree programs. For example, you may take advanced courses in animal dentistry in a vet tech degree program and study advanced anesthesiology. These programs may also cover such subjects as immunology, parasitology, small animal handling, and equine care.
In addition to traditional courses, you will usually have a hands-on component to earning your degree. This type of training allows you to become familiar with working with animals and is usually required for earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in this major. Often, this type of training is achieved through internships or externships.