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Animal Care Colleges and Schools in the U.S.

The field of animal care commonly concerns the nutritional and other needs of domestic small animals. Certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees are available in the field. Read on to learn about what to consider when selecting a school and discover the typical curriculum of certificate and degree programs in the field.

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How to Select an Animal Care School

Students interested in studying animal care can find programs at community colleges and 4-year colleges and universities. Veterinary technology and animal science programs may also be of interest to these students.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Facilities and hands-on experience opportunities
  • Career goals
  • Accreditation

Facilities and Hands-On Experience Opportunities

Students interested in attending an animal care degree program should consider the school's facilities and the types and quantities of animals treated at the facility. A school with an animal care facility may provide hands-on internship or other opportunities to practice techniques learned in the program. This may better prepare graduates to work in the field or make them more attractive to employers.

Career Goals

Another consideration is the student's planned career path. Some animal care programs offer concentrations that prepare students to work with small animals, in an animal control career or in kennel management. Additionally, some programs prepare students to continue their studies in a veterinary technician or pre-veterinary associate's or bachelor's degree program. Students may want to consider attending a program that prepares them to work in or continue their studies in a field of their interest.

Accreditation

Students interested in working as a vet technician or veterinarian may want to consider attending schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This is because, upon graduating from an AVMA-accredited school, students are eligible to sit for the veterinary technologist credentialing exam. Additionally, earning a degree from an AVMA-accredited school may be a prerequisite to attending veterinary school.

Animal Care Program Overviews

Certificate in Animal Care

Certificate programs, which typically require one year of study, cover the basic care and handling of domestic animals. Some programs include an internship or practicum. Courses cover:

  • Animal nutrition
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Animal behavior

Associate in Applied Science in Animal Care

In an associate's degree program, generally, lab training, clinical practicums and work experiences comprise much of the second year of study. Some programs allow students to specialize in caring for a specific type of animal. The curriculum may cover:

  • Small animal breeds
  • Animal grooming
  • Small animal management
  • Animal health fundamentals
  • Animal nutrition

Bachelor of Science Programs

Bachelor's degree programs related to animal care may be titled 'veterinary and animal sciences', 'animal sciences' or 'human leadership' programs. The last type of program focuses on leading animal care facilities or organizations. In addition to preparing students for a career as an animal care technician, these programs also can lead to a career in research or to attending veterinary school. Many programs include lab courses and internships. Classes in these programs include:

  • Animal welfare
  • Animal physiology
  • Animal nutrition
  • Chemistry
  • Genetics
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