Vet Tech Colleges

The Veterinary Career Path

Veterinary assistants, technicians and technologists ensure that animals remain happy and healthy, and help diagnose and treat their medical conditions. They get the opportunity to work closely with their furry and feathered patients in a role that typically requires a shorter and smaller educational investment than does attending a traditional veterinary school. Even for those considering becoming veterinarians, first pursuing a position as a veterinary assistant or technician can help ensure the veterinary field is the right fit, and provide exposure to specializations like veterinary radiology, pet psychology, vet dentistry, animal nutrition, and even exotic animals.


While educational requirements for any role in veterinary medicine may vary, a good general rule of thumb is that an aspiring veterinary assistant will typically pursue an undergraduate diploma or certificate, while, according to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA), an aspiring veterinary technician will pursue an associate of science (A.S.) or associate of applied science (A.A.S.), and a veterinary technologist will pursue a bachelor of science degree (B.S.). Indeed, the difference in educational attainment is often the key qualification separating the technologist from the technician. It is important to ensure that a program at any level is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) prior to enrollment. Some states also require licensure.




Veterinary Technicians

Veterinary techs are the nurses of the animal world. Their responsibilities may include administering medication, laboratory analyses, and assisting with surgeries.

Veterinary Assistants

Veterinary assistants maintain veterinary offices. Their responsibilities typically involve scheduling appointments with pet-owners, maintaining medical records, and feeding or grooming patients.

Major Universities, Community Colleges and Online Schools for Veterinary Science

For professionals who want to work closely with animals, there are many veterinary technician programs from which to choose, and several from top-rated schools.


The U.S. News and World Report 2013 ranked Cornell University, University of California at Davis, Colorado State at Boulder, and North Carolina State University as the top four veterinary programs in the United States. In addition to their renowned veterinary programs, each of these prestigious schools offers an undergraduate degree in animal science or veterinary technology. Abilene Christian University also offers a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in animal science, and it allows students to choose from specialties such as pre-veterinary medicine and livestock management.


Students who are looking for a more cost-effective degree in animal science or veterinary assisting may find that community colleges provide a reasonable alternative. Wayne Community College provides an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree in animal science technology program, with tracks in veterinary technology or veterinary assisting, while Dallas County Community College offers a 100% online associate of arts (A.A.) degree program in veterinary assisting.


There are accredited veterinary assistant programs and veterinary technology schools all over the United States. Here is a comprehensive listing of vet tech colleges by state to help interested candidates find renowned schools in their area.  For motivated self-starters seeking the flexibility of an online program, here is a list of online vet tech programs.  Some of these programs are hybrid online-campus programs—those with a mix of online and classroom components—such as the A.A.S. degree program in veterinary technology at University of New Hampshire. This program offers classes such as small animal diseases, veterinary anesthesia and surgical assisting, and pharmacology for vet techs.


Other programs may be completed 100% online, like the online veterinary assistant programs at Penn Foster Career School and Ashworth College. The reason that a handful of programs may be completed online is that these degrees are typically based in conceptual rather than procedural veterinary science. It is important to note that employers and licensing organizations typically require clinical, hands-on experience prior to practice for veterinary technicians and technologists.


While these are just a sampling of the offerings for aspiring students of veterinary technician schools, each of the specialization pages highlights top programs across the United States in more focused disciplines, including animal dentistry and veterinary psychology.

Animal care specializations


specializations by animal

specializations by program

Veterinary Radiology Technician
Veterinary Radiology Technician

Veterinary radiology techs help diagnose and treat internal injuries which can be viewed with radiology equipment (e.g., x-rays, computed tomography [CT], nuclear imaging, digital fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]). They work in laboratories, clinics, and hospitals which house this special equipment. Their responsibilities generally comprise taking diagnostic images of animals and ensuring radiation safety.

Veterinary Nutrition Technician
Veterinary Nutrition Technician

Veterinary nutrition techs provide guidance in maintaining animal health by way of proper eating and exercise routines. They work in animal clinics and hospitals, or offer outpatient consulting services for animals in need. Their responsibilities include keeping abreast of scientific developments in animal nutritional science and providing pet-owner education.

Veterinary Dental Technician
Veterinary Dental Technician

Veterinary dental techs assist in giving animals the dental services they need. They work in private clinics, hospitals, zoos, or large farms. Their responsibilities typically include administering anesthetics, oral cleaning and plaque removal, surgical assistance, and dental hygiene education for animal-owners.

The Latest from the Vet Tech Education Blog

The veterinary technology blog offers a wide range of resources for people interested in veterinary technician schools and careers. 

It provides advice on growing specializations, such as how to become an animal psychologist or a veterinary dentist, and even provides lists of esteemed professors across an array of disciplines. For example, there are a number of top professors in exotic animal veterinary science, such as Jennifer Graham of Tufts University and Michael Jones of the University of Tennessee. For students interested in veterinary technology, there’s a list of top veterinary technology professors to launch their exploration of the possibilities. Additionally, there are interviews with top vet techs in the nation, including education and career tips from the “vet tech of the year,” Megan Brashear. 

For students at all stages of their schooling and careers, the veterinary technology blog can offer a fresh perspective and loads of advice on scholarships, top professors, programs by region, and how to join various veterinary specializations.


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Barry Franklin (Editor)

Barry joined publisher Sechel Ventures as partner in 2013 and, along with running the business, edits content for