Online Registered Vet Tech Program Overviews
The term vet tech covers both veterinary technician and technologist. Both are state licensed jobs that involve caring for animals, mostly in veterinary practices, but also in animal shelters, zoos, aquariums, research labs and rescue organizations. Vet technicians must have an Associate of Science degree to be registered and technologists a Bachelor of Science. The nature of veterinary work means that hands-on training is essential, so all online programs are combined with clinical work.
Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology Programs
Vet technicians nurse sick animals, perform diagnostic tests and assist in surgery. Due to the risk of injury, they are trained to be proficient in handling and restraining animals for examining, cleaning and grooming. With experience, techs may take on greater responsibility and participate in procedures that are more complex. Veterinary technicians need excellent communication skills and the ability to interact professionally and compassionately with animal owners and caretakers.
All states require veterinary technicians to be licensed and to work under the direction of a veterinarian. Vet tech degree programs are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which allows graduates to sit for a credentialing test. Most states use the National Veterinary Technician exam.
Program Information and Requirements
Veterinary technician programs take from 3-4 years to complete. Online classes may include lectures, live chats and e-mail. Programs are usually scheduled on a quarter or semester basis, and within that framework, students may study at their own pace. The hands-on portion of the program requires employment at an accepted veterinary clinic, usually for 20 hours per week, with a veterinarian serving as an on-site mentor.
Students are required to have access to a computer with high-speed Internet and e-mail. The institution generally uses specialized learning software, such as Blackboard, to deliver course content. Students need to be sure their browser supports it. Downloadable programs, such as Quick Time, Adobe Reader and Flash Player, may also be required. Some schools provide technical support and virtual access to their libraries.
Veterinary Technician Courses
Courses offer a comprehensive view of both domesticated animals and wildlife, from health and disease to behavior and management. Some general education classes, such as composition, math and social science, are required as well.
Biology of the Companion Animal
Understanding the animal body is the basis for veterinary care. Topics in this biology class cover body structure and function and the effects of nutrition, disease and genetics.
Vet techs may be called upon to fill prescriptions and administer medications. Students learn about the different types of medications, specifically use, affect on various body systems and possible toxicities. There is hands-on practice at filling prescriptions and calculating dosages.
Large Animal Clinical Care
Due to their size, large animals, such as cows and horses, must be carefully handled for veterinary procedures. This hands-on clinic offers techniques for administering medications, running diagnostic tests and bandaging, all using safe methods of animal restraint.
Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology Programs
Veterinary technologist students receive training in all aspects of the technician program and must take a state exam to be licensed. They also take advanced courses to prepare for leadership roles in the work setting. They may become veterinary clinic managers or specialize in a particular area, such as internal medicine or herd health. Though both technicians and technologists may work in animal research labs, technologists have greater opportunities in those settings. Certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science is recommended.
Program Information and Requirements
The vet technologist program is usually completed in 4-5 years. Like the associate degree program, it is a combination of online work and veterinary clinic employment for 20 hours per week. Online courses are presented through lectures, live class discussions and e-mail.
Computer needs are high-speed Internet, e-mail access and a Web browser compatible with any required software. Typical plug-ins, such as Quick Time or Flash Player, are available online. Students should check to see if they have virtual access to school resources, such as libraries and tech support.
Veterinary Technologist Courses
Courses in advanced animal care and treatment, plus the business and management aspects of the veterinary industry are emphasized in the vet technologist degree program. General education credits, such as algebra, chemistry and English, are usually earned in the first year.
This class provides an arena to learn about and discuss business aspects of veterinary medicine, such as finances and operation of a clinic. Veterinary law and ethics are also debated.
Diseases of Animals
In this class, students learn about the signs of different animal diseases and their relationship to physiology, disease progression and outcomes. From this foundation, the role of the vet technologist in treating the animal and working with its owners is explored.
Care of Lab Animals
For those interested in working in animal research, this class provides training in meeting the needs of laboratory animals. Topics include housing and environment, routine care and techniques for handling, restraining and nursing.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a combined total of 79,600 veterinary technicians and technologists working in 2008, with a median annual wage of $28,900. At 36%, job growth is expected to be much faster than average, with the demand for workers not being met through the 2008-2018 time period. This is due to the discrepancy in how many workers will leave the profession versus how many will enter it. Animals are also living longer lives and need more veterinary services. The one area of keen competition will be for zoo and aquarium jobs.
Veterinary technicians and technologists must take continuing education courses in order to stay licensed. Classes, many of which are online, can be taken through colleges and universities, animal care companies and professional associations.
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