Veterinary technicians (also referred to as vet techs) are trained and licensed individuals who provide support and assistance to veterinarians in the care and treatment of animals. The work a vet tech does for a veterinarian is similar to the work a nurse does in support of a doctor. Vet techs are distinguishable from veterinary assistants by the fact that it requires an advanced amount of education to become a vet tech and consequently vet techs are licensed by their state to perform specific procedures, whereas vet assistants are not.

Vet Techs picture    Vet Techs image

Veterinary Technician Schools

Vet techs are distinguishable from veterinary assistants by the fact that it requires an advanced amount of education to become a vet tech, usually an associate degree or sometimes a bachelor's degree is required. The following five schools offer associate degree programs for veterinary technicians:

  • Cedar Valley College: This community college located just outside Dallas, Texas offers a veterinary technology program that prepares students to take their state board examinations.
  • Northern Virginia Community College: The Associate of Applied Science in veterinary technology offered by this community college prepares students for vet tech careers in a variety of settings.
  • Penn Foster College: This online school offers an associate degree program for students wanting to train to become a vet tech in a flexible format.
  • Purdue University: This university in West Lafayette, Indiana offers on-campus and distance learning associate degree programs in veterinary technology.
  • St. Petersburg College: This college in Florida offers both online and on-campus associate degree programs that provide students with the skills to enter the workforce.

Veterinary Technician Education Requirements

Preparing for veterinary technician school should include a strong background in math and sciences, especially natural sciences. Biology, anatomy and courses that give you practical laboratory skills are a good way to prepare for the rigors of a veterinary technician degree program. Most of the programs lead to a two-year associate degree, while some might lead to a four-year bachelor's degree.

Programs should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and should include both clinical and laboratory elements with the use of live animals. Graduation from an AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program will pave the way for candidates to take a credentialing exam in any state in the nation. Schools offering accredited veterinary technology programs include junior colleges, community colleges, vocational schools, and distance learning facilities.

Clinical experience is required for all veterinary technicians. Those who choose distance learning can complete their clinical experience requirement by working under their local veterinarian while still taking all of the classes for their degree online.

Veterinary Technician Licensing

Requirements to become licensed vary by state; however, in addition to obtaining the necessary education, all states require candidates to take and pass some kind of certification exam regulated by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners or some other state agency. The exam will usually include a combination of oral, written, and practical sections. For most states, this exam is the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) test. States will generally accept transfer of passing scores from exams taken in a different state, provided the two states use the same exam.

In addition to state licensing, advanced credentials are always useful in this profession, and in some cases, necessary. Those seeking employment in a research facility should pursue an American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certification. The AALAS certification focuses on three specific areas of expertise: animal health and welfare, animal husbandry, and facility administration and management. In order to earn an AALAS certification, individuals must satisfy a combination of education and experience requirements before taking the AALAS exam. Work experience must be in a laboratory animal facility and must be directly related to the maintenance, health, and well-being of laboratory animals. The AALAS exam consists of multiple-choice questions whose quantity and difficulty depends upon the level of certification being sought.

Resources for Veterinary Technicians


  1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm
  2. Cedar Valley College, http://www.cedarvalleycollege.edu/FutureStudents/DegreesandCertificatePrograms/TechnicalDisciplines/VeterinaryTechnology/default.aspx
  3. Northern Virginia Community College, http://www.nvcc.edu/catalog/cat2014/academics/programs/programdetail.aspx?prog_id=4400&subprog_id=0
  4. Penn Foster College, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/veterinary-studies/veterinary-technician-associate-degree
  5. Purdue University, http://www.vet.purdue.edu/vettech/
    St. Petersburg College, http://www.spcollege.edu/vt/

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Veterinary Technicians

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Veterinary Technicians jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2,780 $32,450
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 2,620 $40,710
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,910 $34,500
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 1,830 $33,560
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 1,770 $29,090
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 1,720 $30,030
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 1,570 $30,370
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 1,380 $33,050
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 1,370 $30,460
Austin-Round Rock 1,220 $27,470

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to vet techs

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Veterinary Technicians

To find out more about building a career as Vet Techs, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Veterinary Technicians

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 73,610 93% $28,610
Education 2,130 2% $34,280
Government 1,050 1% $40,570
Non-profit 940 1% $26,580
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Veterinary Technicians.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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