How Much Schooling Do You Need to Become a Vet Tech?

In order to become a vet tech, you will need to complete a two-year accredited veterinary technology program.

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The Different Types of Vet Techs

There are three types of vet techs: those who work in small animal clinics, those who work in large animal clinics, and those who work in research laboratories. Each type of vet tech has different schooling requirements. Small animal clinic vet techs need a two-year degree, large animal clinic vet techs need a four-year degree, and research lab vet techs need a six-year degree.

Licensed Vet Techs

Vet techs are animal health care professionals who work alongside veterinarians and other members of the animal healthcare team. They may assist in diagnostic testing, perform labwork, take X-rays, administer medications and vaccines, prepare animals for surgery, monitor vital signs, and provide postoperative care. Vet techs also educate animal owners on how to care for their pets.

There are two main types of vet techs: licensed vet techs and non-licensed vet techs. Licensed vet techs have completed an accredited veterinary technology program and have passed a state-administered exam. Non-licensed vet techs have not completed an accredited program or passed the state exam. In some states, non-licensed vet techs may not be allowed to perform certain tasks, such as taking X-rays or administering medications.

Registered Vet Techs

All 50 states require that veterinary technicians be licensed, registered or certified, although requirements and titles vary by state. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that in order to be registered, vet techs must complete a two-year accredited veterinary technology program and pass a credentialing exam. Registered technicians use the initials “RVT” after their name.

Vet techs can find employment in a variety of settings, including private veterinary clinics, humane societies, zoos and research laboratories. They typically work alongside veterinarians and other medical staff to provide care for animals.

The duties of a registered veterinary technician may include:
– Restraining animals during exams and procedures
– Collecting blood, urine and tissue samples
– Administering medications and vaccinations
– Performing lab tests
– X-rays and other diagnostic imaging

The Different Levels of Vet Techs

There are three common levels of education for vet techs. The first level is a certificate, the second is an associate’s degree, and the third is a bachelor’s degree. There are pros and cons to each level of education. The certificate level is the shortest and least expensive, but you may have a harder time finding a job with just a certificate. The associate’s degree is the most common level of education and will give you the most job options. The bachelor’s degree is the most advanced level of education and may give you a higher salary, but it is also the most expensive.

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Associate’s Degree

An Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology is the most common type of degree held by vet techs. This type of degree can be obtained at many different colleges and takes two to three years to complete. During this time, students will take classes in animal anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, and surgical nursing.

Bachelor’s Degree

In order to become a vet tech, you will need to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology. This four-year degree will prepare you for a career in the veterinary field, and will give you the knowledge and skills you need to care for animals. After completing your degree, you will be able to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), which is required in order to become a licensed vet tech.

The Different Areas of Study for Vet Techs

Depending on the state you want to work in, you may need to complete a two- to four-year degree program at a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are many different areas of study for vet techs, which we’ll get into below.

Animal Science

Vet techs typically have an interest in caring for animals, and many have previous experience working with animals in a variety of settings. A common first step toward becoming a vet tech is completing a 2-year associate degree in animal science from a community college or vocational school. Some students also complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree in animal science before beginning their career. During their studies, students take courses in animal breeds and husbandry, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and zoo management.

Veterinary Technology

The schooling to become a vet tech generally falls into two categories, the academic and the clinical. The academic part of your education will be similar to that of any other college student. You will take courses in English, math, sciences and general education. The clinical portion will be hands-on, specializing in animal care. This may include courses such as animal anatomy, physiology and pharmacology. You will also complete an externship, which is a short-term job placement at a veterinary hospital or clinic.

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The Different Careers for Vet Techs

A vet tech is a vital part of any veterinarian’s team. They are responsible for a number of tasks, including animal care, laboratory work, andclient education. Vet techs must have a strong knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology, as well as be able to effectively communicate with clients. While there are a number of different career paths a vet tech can take, most will need to complete a two-year associate’s degree program.

Small Animal Vet Tech

Small animal vet techs are responsible for providing care to small animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and rodents. They may work in private clinics, animal shelters, or zoos. In addition to providing basic medical care, small animal vet techs may also perform lab work, take x-rays, and administer medications. Most small animal vet techs have at least an associate’s degree in veterinary technology.

Large Animal Vet Tech

Large animal veterinary technicians typically work with livestock, such as cows, pigs, and horses. They often work with farmers and ranchers to help ensure the health of their herds. Large animal veterinary technicians may also work with zoos and other wildlife parks to help care for the animals there.

Most large animal veterinary technicians have at least an associate’s degree in veterinary technology. Some employers may prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology or a related field.

Equine Vet Tech

An equine vet tech is a veterinary technician who specializes in the care of horses. These technicians work closely with veterinarians to provide medical care for horses. They may also work with other animals, such as dogs and cats.

Equine vet techs must have an associate’s degree in veterinary technology from an accredited school. They must also pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). In some states, they must also be licensed by the state board of veterinary examiners.

Equine vet techs typically work in equine hospitals, clinics, or practices. They may also work in zoos or research facilities.

The Different Specialties for Vet Techs

There are many different specialties for vet techs, and each one requires different levels of schooling. For example, you can become a general practice vet tech with an associate’s degree, but if you want to specialize in dentistry, you’ll need to complete a four-year veterinary technology program. We’ll go over all the different specialties and their requirements in this article.

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Anesthesia is the medical specialty that encompasses the administration of drugs to induce anesthesia, as well as the management of the anesthetized patient. Vet techs who specialize in anesthesia are responsible for monitoring patients before, during, and after surgery, as well as providing supportive care and pain management. To become a certified veterinary technician specialist in anesthesia (CVT-A), you must pass a rigorous exam administered by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA).


The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that as of 2016, there were about 84,000 practicing veterinary surgeons in the United States. The AVMA further reports that the number of new veterinary surgeons who graduated from accredited veterinary medical colleges increased by about 3% from 2015 to 2016.

A career in veterinary surgery generally requires a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, which typically takes four years to complete. Once you have your DVM, you can then pursue specialized training in surgical residency programs, which typically last three years.

Some common surgical procedures that vet techs may assist with include spaying and neutering, declawing, tumor removal, and setting fractures. To become proficient in surgery, vet techs must be able to handle anesthesia, take and develop X-rays, maintain sterile conditions during surgery, and monitor patients before and after surgery.


Radiology is the science that uses medical imaging to diagnose and sometimes also treat diseases within the body. A variety of imaging techniques such as X-ray radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine including positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to diagnose or treat diseases.

Interventional radiology is the performance of (usually minimally invasive) medical procedures with the guidance of imaging technologies. The specialty of veterinary radiology may be divided into two main categories, diagnostic radiology and therapeutic radiology. Diagnostic radiologists are responsible for producing images of animals in order to help veterinarians diagnose disease. Therapeutic radiologists use radiation therapy to treat cancer.

There are many subspecialties within veterinary radiology, including but not limited to: abdominal radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, oncologic radiology, cardiothoracic radiology, neurologic radiology, and nuclear medicine.

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