Though the only on-campus programs are in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, one school has a distance education program. In this program, you only have to make periodic visits to the physical location during your education. The advantage, though, is that you can better control the pace of your education.
The best path to becoming a veterinary technician in Arizona is to attend a school with a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). To find a school with an accredited program, click here. The distance learning program is accredited, too.
What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?
A veterinary technician fills the comparable role of nurse in human medicine. The technician assists the veterinarian in many areas, has contact with clients, is involved with office management, keeps records, and above all, provides compassionate, quality care for the animals the veterinary staff is sworn to serve. Typical daily duties include animal admission, record keeping, client communication, taking x-rays, administering sedation or anesthesia, dental procedures, wound care, assisting in surgery and emergency procedures, and performing blood counts or urinalysis in the laboratory.
The greatest demand for veterinary technicians is in a private veterinary practice working alongside the veterinarian caring for companion animals. However, the demand for veterinary technicians in other fields is rapidly growing and opportunities exist in the following areas: teaching, pharmaceutical sales, the military, humane societies, livestock production, equine practice, biomedical research, diagnostic laboratories, zoo/wildlife medicine, veterinary supply sales, public health organizations, and the pet food industry.
Veterinary technologists and technicians can also specialize in these disciplines:
- Dental Technician
- Internal Medicine
- Emergency and Critical Care
- Behavior Technician
- Zoological Medicine
- Clinical Practice
- Clinical Pathology
(Click here for more information on these academic specialties.)
HOW TO APPLY
You must have a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent to apply to a veterinary technology/technician program in Arizona. Acceptance to a school in general does not guarantee acceptance into the veterinary technician program. Application processes vary between schools, so check each school’s website carefully; especially, the distance learning program.
What You Will Study to Become a Veterinary Technician
Because veterinary medicine is a science-based profession, so too is the career of a veterinary technician. Some classes are prerequisites to application or beginning the actual program. Most are in general fields such as beginning biology, chemistry, math, humanities, English, communications, or computer skills.
Once you are in the program, your course work will include many of these classes, but not all, depending on the program: anatomy and physiology, terminology, nursing skills, small and large animal diseases, radiology, veterinary economics, anesthesiology, parasitology, hematology, clinical skills, lab and exotic animals, birds, practice management, and behavior. Some classes include labs to provide contact and hands-on experience to fill out your education for that subject. The last quarter or semester focuses heavily on an internship at regional clinics or facilities where you will combine all your education and skills while learning more of the day to day workings of a veterinary technician.
One school in Arizona has a former veterinary clinic that was donated to the program. It is one of the few accredited programs in the country that has an actual clinic building for teaching purposes. Also special about this school’s program is a large animal facility, one of few that has on-campus access to large animals.
Tuition and Financial Aid for Veterinary Technicians
Most programs can be completed in two to three years. Distance learning may vary more, depending on your design. Tuition is charged per credit hour, and most programs can be completed for under $15,000 (in-state costs). Out of state tuition can be up to three times higher. Visit each school’s website to learn of particular programs available to assist you in paying for your veterinary technician education.
All the traditional financial aid available to college students across the country is available to Arizona veterinary technician students. These include grants, loans, and veterans benefits. Applying for financial aid begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website, where you can learn what types are aid are available and for which you qualify.
(Click here to visit the website for Arizona Student Financial Aid programs.)
Many military benefits are available as well. Each school’s website has information on these programs. Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about the types of aid and what might be best for you. These include programs for dependents and family members of a veteran.
You are not done once you are graduated with an Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology. To become certified in Arizona, you must pass the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination). Only graduates from an accredited program may apply for the VTNE, which is why it is important that you attend an accredited school. Next, you must pass the state exam administered by the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board. Only then are you eligible to register as a certified veterinary technician in Arizona.
Ten continuing education credits are required every two years to keep your certification current. The websites listed below under RESOURCES will provide the information you need to meet this requirement.
Job Prospects and Potential Pay as a Veterinary Technician
Job prospects for veterinary technicians in Arizona are very good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow 30% per year through 2022. Per May 2013 BLS data, the average pay throughout the state was $28,710.
Regional average pay (click the radio button for One occupation for multiple geographical areas, then find Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, 292056):
- Flagstaff $23,850
- Lake Havasu City-Kingman $28,250
- Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale $28,910
- Prescott $30,350
- Tucson $27,460
- North Arizona non-metro area $30,770
- Southeast Arizona non-metro area $33,020
Resources for Your Job Search as a Vet-Tech
Your job search should be ongoing throughout your education. Contacts you will have made during your pre-education employment or volunteering at a clinic, during your on-site clinic visits, and during your internship serve as your initial job search. After you graduate, you can access several very good resources with job postings or information to keep you current.
Vet Tech Life, an online journal for veterinary technicians
Vetcetera, a listing of national, state and specialty veterinary technician associations