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Veterinary Assistant School: Vet Technician Training Schools

A veterinary technician can first be trained as a veterinary assistant to obtain hands-on skills and experience in the field. Veterinary technician school prepares a prospective vet tech with necessary training for bathing and feeding animals, administering examinations and tests, and taking care of sick or injured animals. Veterinary technicians are important parts of a veterinary medical team, and can be involved with treatment and diagnoses of various animal health conditions.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Veterinary Technician School Graduates

Graduates of veterinary technician schools are expected to:

  • Work as part of a team, including veterinary assistants and veterinary supervisors
  • Administer tests and examinations for animals
  • Monitor a pet's pulse, temperature, and respiration
  • Assist with pet surgery
  • Creating lab tests and reports
  • Assisting veterinarians during surgery
  • Follow detailed instructions, and keep accurate records

Key Differences Between a Veterinary Technician and a Veterinary Assistant

Both veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants are involved in work with a veterinary medical team. A vet tech or vet technician plays a more leading role within this team, and can be involved directly with surgery, administration of medication, and handling pets or animals in a crisis situation. A vet technician may begin their career in this field as a veterinary assistant, gaining experience and hands-on training from supervising veterinarians. In a research facility setting, veterinary technicians work under the guidance of physicians and supervising veterinarians.

Veterinary assistants are often involved with:

  • Restraining animals during a surgical procedure
  • Preparing a treatment room for an examination
  • Setting up lab tests and providing medical records
  • Maintaining the cleanliness of the lab or examination room
  • Answering the phones within the office, and other administrative duties

Career Options After Veterinary Technician or Veterinary Assistant School

Students of veterinary assistant or veterinary technician schools can choose to work in: 

  • Animal hospitals

  • Group veterinary practices

  • Animal shelters

  • Animal nursing facilities

  • Private veterinary clinics

  • Research facilities

  • Zoos

  • Grooming facilities

  • Animal training organizations

Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Assistant Training & Certification

Veterinary technician and veterinary assistant training can involve either a 2-year degree program, or a comprehensive 4-year program through a veterinary technician school. A veterinary assistant school can help train a prospective vet tech by providing key skills and administrative knowledge. Assistants must become comfortable working with both animals and pet owners, and assume general office skills such as recordkeeping. Although certification or licenses are not required for veterinary assistants, passing a state licensing exam is required to become a veterinary technician.

An associate degree program for a veterinary technician consists of clinical and laboratory experience, along with lectures and written examinations in a classroom setting. Each state has different requirements on licensing and requirements for veterinary technicians, and most require competency in an oral, written, and practical examination. The majority of states require passing the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. Scores do transfer from state to state as long as the same exam has been taken.

Many employers also look for certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). This certification is available at three levels to test technician competence. These areas include:

  • Facility Management
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animal Health & Welfare

The Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT) is the lowest level of certification available, followed by the Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and then the Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG). After certification, prospective vet technicians must also satisfy work experience requirements.

Before entering a vet tech school or training program, a high school education with a strong focus on science and mathematics is recommended.

Veterinary Technician School Accreditation

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is the accrediting party for all veterinary technician and veterinary assistant school programs. This organization is also responsible for accrediting online veterinary technician school programs.

Veterinary Tech School Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

A veterinary tech school graduate made an hourly earning of $11.99 in 2004, and earnings vary depending on the skills, education, and certification completed. The demand for veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants is expected to grow faster than average through 2014 as more people focus on the health and well-being of their pets, and the number of pet owners increases. Related occupations include:

  • Veterinary technologists

  • Animal care and services

  • Veterinarians

  • Animal hospice care

  • Laboratory animal caretakers 


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