How Do You Get A Veterinary Technician Associate Degree?


Though a veterinary technician is an occupation with a low-to-mid-level salary, it is still a worthwhile occupation for someone who enjoys providing medical care for animals.

A veterinary technician’s associate degree is available in nationally-accredited and regionally-accredited US community colleges and these programs are also accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The nationally-accredited programs are the least expensive with annual costs of about $3000, and the regionally accredited programs cost approximately $6000 per year.

Veterinary technicians need to be comfortable handling different types of large and small animals, be able to communicate with pet owners, and be knowledgeable about the scientific aspects of physical examination, anesthesia, surgery assistance, taking x-rays and so on.

Choosing A College For A Veterinary Tech Program

HIGHER EDUCATION

The first decision about becoming a vet technician is to decide whether you are only looking to stay as a Vet Technician for the longer term or if you have plans to become a Vet Technologist or of growing into becoming a Veterinarian in the future.

Regionally accredited colleges are always preferable if you want to do higher studies to get a bachelors degree in veterinary technology and a doctor of veterinary medicine to become a veterinarian.

With an associate degree from a regionally accredited college, you can get admission for your bachelors degree at a regionally accredited or nationally accredited college. But if you graduate from a nationally accredited college, it is only possible to get admission to another nationally accredited college.

College graduates from nationally accredited colleges will not be accepted for admission to regionally accredited colleges.

COST OF ASSOCIATE DEGREE

But as far as cost is concerned, the vet technician associate degrees from nationally accredited colleges have incredibly low tuition fees and many of them can be completed online.

If you just want an extremely inexpensive way to become a Vet Technician, simply choose a college such as Penn Foster or Ashworth which are nationally-accredited programs.

Just note that this can affect your admission to some bachelors degree programs that are regionally accredited.

ONLINE/ DISTANCE/ REGULAR COLLEGE

Since a veterinary technician works with animals, it is probably best to choose a program at a regular community college in your area which also has the option for taking some online courses.

For some topics, an online course is quite enough to learn the material and that turns out to be much more self-paced and convenient for the schedules.

But there are other topics which require training with animals and other clinical lab settings for which an online format would never quite work as well.

LOCATING AN ACCREDITED COLLEGE

Here is the list of all programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Veterinary technology programs accredited by the AVMA CVTEA

In the above list, simply choose a community college in your local area and make sure they also have the option for some online courses.

Decide whether you are looking for a regionally accredited or nationally accredited college. I would recommend a regionally accredited college if that’s possible for you. This will give you the option for easy admission to higher degree programs toward becoming a vet technologist or even a veterinarian.

Also speak with some of the professors at an open event to decide which college you like the best.

Best Veterinary Tech Schools

There are many good schools for veterinary technicians and you can find one you like that is close to where you live.

If you live in or near New York city, the La Guardia Community college’s Veterinary Technology program is a good program. It is a regionally accredited college, the program is priced quite low at $4800/year and there are 2 internships as part of the associate degree to practically prepare you for a real job in this field.

If money is tight for you, complete the FAFSA and get some scholarship to cover your college expenses. Preferably, simply choose to enroll into a regionally accredited, AVMA accredited college or university.

Make sure the college you choose has a long history of conducting the veterinary technician program and that the college adequately supports and guides the students throughout the degree program.

You can also get a referral to a few alumni students and speak with them for their opinion before enrolling into your chosen college.

Is A Veterinary Technician A Good Job?

For scientifically-minded individuals who find great joy in working with animals, a veterinary technician is a good starting career. As per the BLS, there is a 15% growth in job opportunities for this position, so this is definitely an in-demand occupation.

According to the USNews, the median salary for this occupation is about $35,000. So there are some who earn a bit less or more than this. Despite the lower salary, these technicians can complete their bachelors degree to become a vet technologist. This will further increase their salary to some extent.

Once the bachelors degree is completed, these graduates can apply for admission to a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) program so as to become a veterinarian. The average salary for a veterinarian is $99,250 and the job growth is projected at 17% by the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

So starting as a veterinary technician is definitely a good start for building a good career for someone who enjoys caring for and improving the lives of animals.

Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Technologist

A veterinary technician typically has an associate degree and supports the veterinarian by talking with pet owners, diagnosing the animal’s symptoms, performing medical tests and x-rays, supporting the veterinarian during surgery and so on.

A veterinary technologist typically has a bachelors degree and is expected to be a level of seniority above the veterinary technician. This person is more likely to be hired by large hospitals or be involved in supervising junior vet technicians.

Can A Vet Assistant or Technician Become A Veterinarian?

A vet assistant is someone who has completed a 1 year certificate course in this field, and this person is typically involved in cleaning the animal cages, feeding the animals and so on. Vet technicians on the other hand are more scientifically qualified to diagnose and support the animal’s medical treatment by conducting tests and so on.

Both veterinary technicians and vet assistants enjoy being around furry animals and in seeing them get better.

Why Are Vet Technicians Paid So Little?

It is possible for someone with just a 2 year associate degree to become a vet technician, whereas to become a veterinarian, 8 years of education is required, 4 years for the bachelors degree and 4 years for the doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree.

Though vet technicians work closely with the veterinarians, it is ultimately the veterinarian who takes all the responsibility for the care of the animals.

Overall, compared to medical doctors whose median pay is about $208,000/year, veterinary doctors have a median pay of only $99,250/year.

This huge gap also extends downwards to the veterinary technicians who are paid only a small fraction of what the veterinarians are paid in salary.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Veterinary technicians make about $36,260/year which is the median pay for this occupation.

Where Do Vet Techs Make The Most Money?

According to the BLS, the top paying states for vet technicians are as follows (from topmost to the next lower paying state and so on moving downwards):

S No.

Top Paying US States for Veterinary Technicians

Median salary (US $)

District of Columbia

$66,850

Connecticut

$48,620

Nevada

$48,320

California

$47,580

Massachusetts

$46,480

New York

$43,780

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the top paying metropolitan areas for vet technicians:

S No.

Top Paying US Metropolitan Areas for Veterinary Technicians

Median salary (US $)

Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA

$56,020

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

$53,580

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

$53,440

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

$51,890

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

$50,820

Reno, NV

$48,550

What Is The Career Outlook for Veterinary Technicians?

The job growth rate for veterinary technicians is projected at 15% is much higher than the national average. This is only 2% lower than the job growth rate for veterinarians and 12% higher than the growth rate for medical doctors.

So after getting their associate degrees, vet technicians should have no trouble getting their first job and many of them are likely to get a job in a campus interview. There are many states and metropolitan areas that provide a good salary for vet technicians.

Moreover, to further grow in their career, vet technicians need to complete their bachelors degree. To ultimately have a top salary to afford a better lifestyle, vet technicians have the opportunity to complete their GRE and then apply for admission to a doctor of veterinary medicine program for becoming a veterinarian.

Therefore, for an intelligent, scientifically-minded and hard working professional who has an inherent love for animals, a veterinary technician is a great career to begin with.

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