Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow significantly in the next decade, faster than most other occupations. The best path to becoming a veterinary technician is to attend a school with a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.
Not all students live near an accredited school in their state, making access the primary barrier to achieving a quality education to become a veterinary technician. To solve this problem, the AVMA Committee has accredited and designated ten programs as distance education (DE), where most of the education can be conducted remotely from wherever you live. Click here for a list of these schools.
Please note that every school has its own admissions process, tuition, prerequisite courses required, curriculum, length of program, methods of conducting remote education, and means of proctoring. Check EVERY school’s website for every aspect of your education when searching for the program best suited for you. Only one of the ten programs restricts admission to in-state residents.
What Will You Study
All programs are similarly structured. General education prerequisite courses in English, chemistry, math, biology, social sciences, speech and composition, or humanities must be taken before application, or after acceptance but before you may begin the core course study in veterinary technology. Not every school requires all of these classes.
Because all the DE programs are accredited by the AVMA Committee and are designed to provide a comprehensive education, the core courses are very similar. Veterinary medicine is a science-based field of study, and the core course work will be too. This is a typical list from which any one program has chosen classes for its curriculum: medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, parasitology, hematology, radiology, microbiology, small and large animal nursing, practice management, oncology, dermatology, anesthesiology, surgery, dentistry, nutrition, behavior, lab and exotic animal care, and veterinary math and economics.
The design of most DE programs assumes that you chose DE because of other demands in your life, and it will probably take longer than had you attended an on-campus program. The length of time to earn an Associate’s degree takes between two and four years, depending mostly on your commitment to your education.
How Will You “Attend” Class
You will need a computer and internet connection. The various means of administering classes includes two-way television, taped classes or practicums, web cam (with headset and microphone), or the Blackboard or eCollege systems. Most often, you access these classes on your time schedule, which requires more discipline to manage your time responsibly.
You will be involved in arranging your clinical relationships, during which you will gain the same type of hands-on experience the on-campus students would get in labs associated with many classes. These may take place at one or more clinics.
Most programs require a final-semester internship (also known as externship) of several hundred hours of practical clinical experience.
Monitoring of Your Education
Most programs require you to travel to the home campus a few times during the year to touch base, turn in forms, or for supervised hands-on training or testing.
The AVMA Committee’s requirements for proctoring of your education, progress, and examinations are strict—for your benefit and the protection of the clinic where you study. Mentors and instructors must vouch for your progress, their reputations are on the line, and their signatures are on forms and documents. They are required to follow closely the guidelines set forth by the AVMA.
Exams can be taken at approved proctored locations such as nearby colleges, K-12 schools, commercial learning centers, ProctorU, military bases, or libraries. Family members, relatives, employers, friends and neighbors are NOT allowed to proctor exams.
Some programs require video evidence of the facility and equipment, as well as video to document your skills.