Holistic Animal Care Tech Education Requirements

Animal care techs are committed to providing the best possible healthcare for pets and lab animals, which may include holistic health treatments like massage or acupuncture. They may help veterinarians provide this kind of treatment to companion and working animals in animal hospitals, shelters or research facilities.

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Educational Requirements

A combination of formal degree preparation, state licensing and continuing education training is generally required to pursue a career in holistic animal care. Most animal care techs are veterinary technicians or veterinary technologists. While each career title requires a different degree, the job duties and licensing requirements are extremely similar.

Veterinary Technology and Related Degree Programs

Veterinary technicians must earn an associate's degree in veterinary technology, while veterinary technologists earn a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology or a related field, such as animal health science or laboratory animal science. These programs train students to provide standard veterinary care services to animals, such as perform tests, administer medications, assist in surgical procedures and record pertinent health information. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs also prepare students to sit for a required state licensing exam.

Students take classroom and laboratory classes in animal anatomy and physiology, animal nutrition, biology and chemistry. Animal-centered anesthesiology, pharmacology and radiology, dentistry, emergency care, critical care and pathology are also covered. Students also learn applicable animal care laws and regulations, how to care for animals in a lab setting and how to participate in the operation of a veterinary medical practice. Internship or clinical care experiences are required.

Licensing and Certification

State licensing requirements can vary but most require the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (www.aavsb.org). Written, oral and practical testing is common. Licensing usually expires periodically, often every year or biannually.

Specialized certification is available through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science for those working in animal research labs (www.aalas.org). Available credentials include Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG).

Voluntary Continuing Education

After earning a degree in veterinary technology, animal health science or a related field, animal care techs can continue their education through courses and certificate programs offered by animal massage schools. Some of these schools specialize in working with certain animals, such as horses, while others provide training on animals of all types and sizes. Programs may also include reiki, aromatherapy and acupressure.

Other continuing education options are available to members of professional organizations such as the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork and the Association of Canine Water Therapy. Some training may be available on a distance-learning basis; however most programs do require some hands on work.

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