Animal Health Technician Certification and Certificate Programs

Get details on certificate programs for the animal health technician and certification in the field. Read about educational prerequisites and program coursework, and see employment outlook and salary statistics.

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Essential Information

An animal health technician, or veterinary technician, provides basic health and medical care for animals. In order to become licensed, prospective animal health technicians need to complete an associate's degree program in veterinary technology. It takes two years to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology or Animal Health Technology, and students participate in classroom-based lecture sessions as well as hands-on experiences in animal hospitals or veterinary clinics. Once licensed, technicians might find jobs in veterinary hospitals, humane societies, zoos or wildlife facilities.

Educational Prerequisites

Those interested in undergoing associate's degree programs for animal health technicians need to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. A completed application must be submitted along with SAT or ACT scores. Some programs have additional prerequisites, such as completing college-level math and biology courses, CPR certification or clinical experience. Letters of recommendation are often required as well.

Program Coursework

Animal health technician coursework teaches students to handle sick or injured animals, assist veterinarians and perform laboratory procedures. To complement clinical experience, students complete work in areas such as:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Animal pharmacology
  • Animal diseases
  • Animal nutrition
  • Medical terminology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Job growth for veterinary technicians, including animal health technicians, is expected to grow 52% between 2010 and 2020, a rate that is considerably faster than is common for most occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, the median yearly salary for veterinary technicians was $30,290, while the top 90% of veterinary technicians earned an annual salary of $44,030 or more (www.bls.gov).

Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information

In order to demonstrate competence in the field, graduates with an associate's degree in animal health must pass the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. This is available from either the State Board of Veterinary Examiners or an equivalent state licensing agency. Those who plan on working in a laboratory setting can pursue additional certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS).

Degree-holders can also choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in animal science or a related field, and many credits may be transferable. This can be followed by graduate studies in the pursuit of becoming a licensed veterinarian.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics