Veterinary technicians are sometimes referred to as veterinary assistants and indeed their job often involves assisting veterinarians. Officially speaking, however, veterinary assistants do not require any specialized training whereas veterinary technicians must have a formal education in the field and pass either a state or national exam demonstrating competency. This can make distinguishing among available programs somewhat difficult.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the need for veterinary technicians is expected to increase at the rate of 30% by the year 2020, which is much faster than the average for all U.S. occupations (BLS, 2010). Now it an ideal time for anyone considering a career as a veterinary technician to explore educational opportunities.
It can be difficult for anyone looking to further their education to find the necessary time to do so. With the advent of the internet, many more people that may not have physical access to training are able to pursue careers assisting veterinarians as veterinary technicians. The schools on this list offer online programs for veterinary assisting, both certification for veterinary assistants and degrees for veterinary technicians, to students throughout the country.
Dallas College's Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP) is offered in conjunction with the American Animal Hospital Association. Dallas College (formerly Cedar Valley College) has had a veterinary technology program in place since 1978 and expanded to include online learning in 1998. The program includes online learning exercises that utilize text as well as video, and hands-on experience requirements at local animal hospitals. Upon completion of the DEVTP program, students graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree and qualify for the licensing exams required to pursue a career as a veterinary technician.
San Juan College, with a physical location in Farmington, New Mexico, offers online learning programs for both veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants. The veterinary technician program includes 75 credit hours of work and an Associate of Applied Science degree, which awards the student clearance to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The veterinary assistant program only requires 29 credit hours but graduates are not prepared for the VTNE.
At Jefferson State Community College, students can utilize online learning to complete an Associate of Applied Science degree in veterinary technology. The program requires a total of 76 credit hours to complete, which does not include practical clinic experience at an approved clinic local to the student. Because the program does conclude in an AAS degree, there are general education requirements as well, including courses in biology, math, and English.
Northern Virginia Community College offers a part-time online program for prospective veterinary technicians. The program takes, on average, eight semesters over three years to complete. It is important to note that NVCC requires at least some on-campus attendance over the course of these three years, which means traveling to Loudon in northern Virginia. At the end of the program, students are awarded an Associate of Applied Science degree. While previous college experience is not require for admission, those students who have completed their general education requirements are given priority.
One of the only universities offering an online program for veterinary assisting, Purdue University is certainly a great choice for those eligible students. The Online program at Purdue results in an Associate of Applied Science degree, whereas on-campus options include a Bachelor's Degree program. The Veterinary Technology Distance Learning is an ideal place for those students who are already employed by a veterinarian and have the capacity and discipline to continue that work while also attending classes part-time.
St. Petersburg College is a public community college offering an Associate of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology. The college also offers a Bachelor's Degree in the same discipline and has demonstrated high graduation rates for both programs. The AAS degree requires 76 hours of online trading in addition to a clinical externship and has five veterinarians on staff full-time.
California State University East Bay offers an online-only program for veterinary assistants. At the end of a single course, students will earn a certificate that demonstrates their overall competence in working with animals, although it does not confer on them the right to site for the veterinary technician licensing exam or to work as a veterinary technician. However, this can be a great stepping stone for those students who are not yet sure they want to commit to a more rigorous veterinary technology program.