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Vet Technician Degree Options
Among the initial decisions that you will need to make is whether you plan to train as a veterinary assistant, technologist or technician. Part of your preference may be dependent on the amount of time and money that you have to devote to your education, but the primary factor will most likely be which specialty interests you the most. What techs and assistants share in common is that they both work under the direct guidance of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And while there are numerous tasks that they can carry out within the Arizona veterinary practice or hospital, they can't prescribe medications, diagnose health issues, or perform surgeries. In those areas they can only furnish support to a licensed veterinarian. There are technologists and technicians that work exclusive of the typical vet practice, such as for zoos, animal shelters or police departments. Let's take a look at the responsibilities and education requirements for each specialization.
- Vet Assistants in almost all instances will have gone through a structured training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a vet clinic or hospital, or by graduating from a certificate program at a community college or trade school. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the vets and vet technicians in the execution of their duties. Usually they are not involved with more involved activities, for instance assisting with surgical procedures. Some of their normal functions may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning examination rooms and equipment, or handling pets during exams.
- Vet Technicians go through more advanced training compared to assistants and typically obtain a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a sense the veterinary equivalent of medical nurses, since their fundamental job duty is to assist veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they stand apart from veterinary assistants is that they are involved in more involved functions, for instance assisting with surgical procedures or administering medicine. All states presently mandate that veterinary techs pass a credentialing examination for either registration, certification or licensing.
- Vet Technologists are comparable to veterinary technicians and essentially perform the same work functions. They are mandated to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which typically requires 4 years to complete. Therefore the main difference between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist's higher level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more work opportunities, higher salaries and possible management positions. They are additionally mandated to pass a credentialing exam for either registration, certification or licensing.
Veterinary technicians and technologists can specialize in areas such as anesthesia, internal medicine or urgent care. A number may obtain certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Arizona labs or research facilities as well.
Online Vet Tech Programs Available
An approach that might make sense for those with a busy schedule or who are working full-time while going to vet school is to enroll in an online training program. Because the classes are provided through the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The educational program is taught using various venues, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since many vet technician and technologist degrees require practical training, that portion can typically be carried out as an internship or work study program at a local Arizona veterinary clinic or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, can in some instances reduce the cost of your education. Tuition and supplementary expenditures, such as for travel and study materials, can be lower compared to more conventional classroom courses. Just be sure that the online school that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally recognized accrediting organization. With the online courses and the practical training, everything is provided for a complete education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more self-reliant mode, an online veterinary technician program may be the ideal choice for you.