For those who love animals and want to work daily with them but don’t have the desire to go through ten years of the veterinary school becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) or vet tech for short is a perfect path. Vet Technician schools offer entry-level veterinary practice that you will need before starting your career. Those seeking this career path need to know what courses, certifications, and experience are necessary to be employed as a vet tech as well as what their role will be in a veterinarian office. To help, we’ve made a list of the best vet tech schools to study veterinary medicine.
Requirements for vet techs vary from state to state, so the first step is to research what certifications and experience are required in the state you desire to work in. Most states require a minimum of a two-year to four-year associate degree in the field from an accredited program. The program needs to have an accreditation by the AVMA Committee on Veterinarian Technician Education and Activities. Graduates of these programs are qualified to take the certification exam required to be employed as a vet tech in their state. A student can expect to participate in 60 credit hours of education and at least 240 clock hours of on-site practicum with a veterinarian clinic to gain clinical experience.
Top 5 Vet Tech Schools
|1||Pima Medical Institute of Tucson Arizona||Tucson, Arizona|
|2||Michigan State University||East Lansing, Michigan|
|3||Vet Tech Institute of Houston||Houston, Texas|
|4||University of Nebraska||Lincoln, Nebraska|
|5||Purdue University||West Lafayette, Indiana|
The following are some important items to consider when choosing a program:
- Make sure the credit hours can transfer to other schools or universities in the event you choose to earn a bachelor’s degree.
- Ensure the program and school are accredited.
- Create employer confidence in your education credentials.
- Make sure you will have access to financial aid.
Though each state has regulations for veterinary technician programs, the certification exam is the same across the nation and is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. The Veterinary Technician National Examination is comprised of 170 multiple-choice questions.
The exam is timed for 3 hours and is broken into 9 areas including pharmacy and pharmacology, surgical nursing, dentistry, laboratory procedures, animal care and nursing, diagnostic imaging, anesthesia, emergency medicine, and pain management.
Once vet techs have completed all the requirements and are employed at a veterinary clinic they will still need to complete a set number of continuing education courses each year to maintain their certification.
A vet tech can expect to perform a variety of duties in their career as they assist the veterinarian throughout the day. Vet techs will often take care of check-in procedures of the animal by checking vitals, administering medications and interacting with the pet-owner. They will also assist during surgery and may replace bandages and clean wounds. A vet tech will help educate pet owners and work with other staff in the animal hospital or clinic.
While most vet techs will be employed in animal hospitals or private veterinary clinics some are employed at zoos, laboratories, humane societies, veterinary hospitals, and online programs or university campuses.
List of the Best 14 Accredited Vet Tech Schools
Pima Medical Institute of Tucson Arizona
Though Pima Medical Institute of Tucson Arizona is based out of Arizona there are multiple campuses across the country students can attend to earn the required certification. The courses include lab animal science, exotic medicine, diagnostic imaging, surgical nursing, and large animal nursing. This program takes 18 months to complete.
Michigan State University
Michigan State University’s veterinary nursing program has held a 99% pass rate for the VTNE for the past three years.
Leading the nation in veterinary science, Michigan State offers an innovative and hands-on educational experience for students aspiring to become veterinary nurses. Courses included in the program are anatomy, physiology, nutrition, animal diseases, and more. Students will be fully certified and earn a bachelor’s of science upon completion of the program.
Vet Tech Institute of Houston
The Vet Tech Institute of Houston has four locations students can attend and participate in innovative learning while earning their vet tech certification. The program lasts 18 months and provides students with laboratories, surgical suites, animal-friendly classrooms, radiography rooms, and on-site kennels. Students will have access to learn and participate in hands-on learning and an externship off-site to build networking skills with others in the profession.
University of Nebraska
University of Nebraska provides aspiring vet tech students with different paths to achieve their goals. Students can either earn an Associate degree and qualify to take the certification exam to be employed as a vet tech or they can enroll in the bachelor’s degree program. Each program offers either an emphasis in veterinary science or business. They have the same core courses but will allow for different positions within a veterinary clinic or animal hospital. Students at the University of Nebraska have unique opportunities to study anima production and research animal products.
Purdue University is one of the best vet tech schools because it offers two different pathways for students seeking to become a vet tech. Students that can attend the campus in West Lafayette can earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree, whereas those seeking an online learning format can enroll in a two-year associate degree program. Each program is fully accredited and will prepare students to become competent and confident vet techs. Purdue students have consistently scored a very high pass rate on the certification exam, 90-95%.
Cedar Valley College
Cedar Valley College offers both on-site and distance learning methods to meet the needs of students and provide quality vet tech education to those that are seeking it. The Cedar Valley campus operates a large 32,000 square foot facility with a 170-acre stock farm with the breeding herd for horses, cattle, and goats.
Students have access to college advisors and learning support.
Blue Ridge Community College
Blue Ridge Community College provides both an on-campus learning model as well as an online learning option for distance learners. The campus provides a full service small animal clinic and a large animal teaching facility where students can learn practical skills and receive hands-on experience. For students that choose the online method for learning, they will earn their hours by working at a veterinary clinic near them and they will receive hands-on experience in that location. Those students will need to be clocking in 20 hours per week. Their 3 year VTNE pass rate is over 95% and both programs are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The veterinary technologist program at Mercy College leads to a 4-year bachelor’s degree that is fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee. Graduates become skilled members of the veterinary team. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities where they learn the necessary skills in veterinary nursing. Students have opportunities to participate in externships at highly sophisticated, multi-disciplinary centers and zoos. Mercy College has a 100% three year pass rate for the VTNE. They also offer service learning opportunities as well as a global veterinary experiences course which gives their students the opportunity to offer veterinary services to underserved areas abroad.
Jefferson State Community College
Jefferson State Community College has a hybrid vet tech program that provides many of the courses online while requiring students to earn their on-site hours either volunteering or working for a veterinary clinic at a minimum of 20 hours per week. This is perhaps one of the best vet tech schools available to all living within Alabama. Students will only have a few required times they need to be on the Birmingham campus to fulfill those specific items. Most skills and laboratory requirements will be completed at the location of the veterinary clinic they are working at. C
MESA Community College
Mesa Community College is home to one of the top vet tech programs in the state of Arizona and continues to graduate highly trained and qualified vet techs with exceptionally high pass rates on the board certification exams. Students take courses in basic medical practices, animal care, management, pharmacology, and client communications. Graduates are often employed in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, humane societies, and biomedical research offices.
Graduates of Pierce College are prepared to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam that qualifies them to work as a vet tech upon passing. Students will take general education courses before they take core courses in animal science and veterinary science. Upon completion, students will earn an associate degree in veterinary science. The program is engaging and allows for ample time for students to work with a variety of animals right on campus.
College of Southern Idaho
College of Southern Idaho offers a professional technical vet tech program that provides motivated students that love animals a pathway to make a career with what they love. This is among the best vet tech schools in Idaho. Its program prepares students to work in a variety of veterinary medical settings with both large and small animals. Upon completion of the fully accredited program, students can take the national certification exam for licensure.
Colby Community College
Opening the Vet Tech program in 1969, Colby Community College has one of the oldest programs in the nation. On-campus students receive training on advanced technologies such as digital radiology, class IV laser therapy, and color Doppler ultrasound. Students receive hands-on experience with numerous animals on campus.
Students also receive hands-on experience with large farm animals at the agricultural center owned by the college that houses larger animals. The distance learning program offers all the coursework online while students gain the necessary skills at a local veterinary clinic of their choice.
San Juan College
San Juan College offers an accredited online vet tech program that allows students to complete with an associate degree in veterinary science and enables them to take the national certification exam for licensure. The faculty and staff are caring and responsive to their distance learners and provide guidance and support. Students do need to have the necessary computer and technical skills to succeed in the online delivery method for the coursework and have a veterinary clinic they can log their hours and gain hands-on experience.
Veterinary Technology Programs Ranking Methodology
The career of being a vet tech is one that requires both technical skills and interpersonal skills, as many of the vet techs work with both the veterinarian and the pet owners. Attending a good vet tech school is imperative.
In as little as two years aspiring vet techs can have their certification and licensure to begin working directly with head veterinarians. Vet techs earn a salary ranging from $24K to $45K per year.
Schools were ranked according to a matrix of cost, program availability, and delivery methods. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and contact us.
Vet Tech Schools Offer the Best Value for Education
Animal lovers who have a thing for science are more likely to find a career as a veterinary technician exciting. These people are often in contact with the same patients and develop better relationships with animals and animal owners. Vet tech education offers an opportunity to make a difference in animals and their owners’ lives while earning a decent income in the process.
Veterinary technician schools in the United States offer a wide range of training paths and subjects. Even the most knowledgeable researcher can be overwhelmed with a wide variety of options in vet tech schools. A large number of state licensing requirements make it even harder. This post outlines a crash course in vet tech schools, training programs, application procedures, educational requirements, and career paths.
Currently, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has accredited 30 veterinary schools in the United States. Accordingly, stats show an average of 3000 openings every year, with more than 7000 applicants competing for them. In other words, gaining admission to a vet tech school is very competitive.
Some admission requirements for a vet tech school are standardized, but specific requirements vary by institution. Therefore, we recommend that you know and understand the entrance requirements early as it may impact your course selection.
Most vet tech schools in the united states operate on the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges centralized application service. This service receives and accepts applications and letters of evaluation then distributes them to schools and institutions. Applicants are required to ensure they transmit their transcripts to the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). Other vet tech schools have supplemental applications and require students to send their information directly to the institution.
How to Apply to Vet Tech Schools
Veterinary medicine has increasingly become popular, making the admission process in vet tech schools more competitive than ever. Accordingly, various vet tech schools offer affordable online degrees in veterinary medicine. As suggested, a section of the 30 accredited vet schools and other international programs in the United States use the VMCAS service to streamline applications and the admission process. This platform allows students to send an admission request to different schools with a single application.
The VMCAS application is an integral part of the veterinary technician education admission process. However, there are factors to consider when applying to a vet tech school. Below are some steps to follow for a successful vet tech school application procedure.
Find Out the Admission Requirements
Before applying to a vet tech school, you need to have taken all the required courses. The requirements are mostly similar. However, some schools have a specific list of what they need to qualify you.
List Your Experience
You need to document your working hours in a vet clinic and other animal care internships or volunteer activities. You have to be a well-rounded candidate with experience handling animals.
Start Your Application Early
Find out application deadlines and complete the application forms early. VMCAS often accepts applications starting May or June, with the deadline being October. The application forms have many sections that might take you time to fill.
Ask for A Recommendation Letter
You need a recommendation letter to finish the application to a vet tech school. Accordingly, you should ensure you ask for the letter well in advance to allow your mentor time to complete it. A letter of recommendation from at least one veterinarian is required for you to enroll in veterinary technician education.
Craft A Personal Statement
A personal statement needs attention to detail with a response to a prompt on your background and career goals. Your personal statement is an opportunity to personalize the application process and prove why the acceptance committee should consider and admit you into a vet tech school.
Take the Tests
The admission process includes a mandatory test that you have to pass. Take it as soon as possible to allow yourself time to retest if you do not meet the required scores for admission. Many veterinary technician schools in the United States prefer the computer-based Graduate Record Exam, while some go for the MCAT. In that case, you should consider taking classes to prepare for the tests.
Apply to Select Vet Tech Schools
You should direct your application to select schools you are interested in attending. To find a school that’s a good fit, you have to do some homework, participate in open houses and school events, and take a tour around the schools. You should also limit your applications to a few schools since applying to many vet tech schools only increases your expenditure without helping your chances of admission. For the best opportunities, consider in-state vet tech schools.
Familiarize Yourself with The VMCAS Online Application Process
Spare some time to explore the VMCAS website and learn how the online application system works. The web portal has many instruction pages and subsections that you should review. Find out the procedure for submitting and paying for the application.
Prepare for An Interview
The interview is often the final stage of the admission process. Accordingly, it carries significant weight with the acceptance committee and is a critical part that defines your veterinary technician education. Research some commonly asked vet tech interview questions such as, “why are you interested in this school?” You should figure out some creative answers and find out the sort of interview you will have. For instance, some vet tech schools conduct multiple mini-interview or panel interviews.
Consider A Backup Plan
Have a plan B in case you do not get the nod in your first application. It is common for a prospective student to apply more than once before being accepted into a veterinary technology program. Accordingly, there are things to do while waiting for reapplication. For instance, you can opt to work at a veterinary clinic and get a veterinary technician license as you wait for the right time to reconsider your career outlook.
Educational Requirements for Vet Tech School
A veterinary technician is essentially veterinary nursing in an animal hospital or clinic. Vet technicians and assistants examine, administer first aid, collect lab samples, and perform various tests on sick or injured animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. This kind of hands-on animal care requires specific training and a professional license in some cases. Accordingly, candidates must be graduates from vet tech schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam and other necessary board exams to become a licensed veterinary technician.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has accredited 30 veterinary schools and more than 200 vet tech schools in the United States. This list includes various online programs as well. The most common training path in vet tech schools is an associate degree. However, some students begin with certificates or bachelor’s degrees. The demand for more people to fill the more specialized roles of vet technician, veterinary technologist, and vet assistant has led to more vet tech programs in areas such as dental health, applied science, nutrition, zoological medicine, and many more. Prospective students of a veterinary nursing program can get a glimpse of all vet tech schools with accreditation by visiting the American Veterinary Medical Association website. The types of institutions on the list include:
- Vocational Schools
- Community Colleges
- Four-Year Schools
- Veterinary Technician Schools
To become a fully certified veterinary technician, one has to go through three steps that outline educational requirements:
- Earn a high school diploma or its equivalence
- Graduate from a two-year institution with an associate degree
- Pass a licensing board exam
Getting accepted into a vet tech school goes beyond having a love for animals. There are specific educational requirements and qualifications you must possess. A prospective student must have an inquiring mindset and unrivaled ability and interest in biological sciences. Good communication skills, ability to work well with other people, especially when dealing with pressure and grief, are necessary qualities. Lastly, leadership and management skills for clinical practices and structured workplaces are required. Beyond these personal traits, you need academic excellence, as listed below.
Start in High School
Many applicants are qualified for vet tech school, making veterinary technology school highly competitive. The nature of the acceptance process means your educational qualifications have to start as early as high school. You have to lay the foundation for your academic success in college and vet tech school straight from high school. In this case, you need excellent grades and high SAT scores to get you into the perfect undergraduate institution as you prepare for vet school admission.
Accordingly, you need to consider biology and other science courses, including maths and English. Take part in farm and science projects and leadership activities as you increase your appreciation for veterinary medicine. You can also volunteer at an animal farm and any other environment that will help you learn more about animals and how to handle them to gain invaluable experience.
Make Progress in College
After high school, you need to build on the foundation by making college count. You should attend the right community college and transfer to a four-year institution down the road. While in college, talk about your career goals with your advisor and learn more about vet tech school prerequisites. Additionally, you should research specific courses that fulfill vet tech school requirements and updates to boost your application success.
Like high school, you need good college grades if you want to qualify for vet tech school. In most cases, vet tech schools require that you earn an average of 3.5 and above college grade points. Additionally, you should major in a subject that fits veterinary medicine. The best undergraduate majors for a prospective vet tech student are animal health and biological sciences.
In general, you need all math, chemistry, biology, and physics courses in high school. These subjects will open up your paths to a veterinary school. In college, choose a degree that builds on the foundation of science that you established in high school. Consider making a list of all undergraduate programs at various colleges and visit the schools to evaluate your chances of succeeding there. Find a program that suits your interest and make it a pathway to being admitted to a vet tech school.
Most vet tech schools have commonly required courses for admission.
Essential College Qualification/Requirement Criteria
The following is an outline of criteria that you should accomplish at college before applying to a vet tech school.
- Grade Point Average (GPA): You must maintain an excellent grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 and above. Many vet schools examine the courses you took in the last three or four semesters.
- Clinical and animal experience: You need to gain experience in clinical and animal care by volunteering with a veterinarian technician. This experience will also increase your appreciation for veterinary practice and help you figure out if you want to specialize in veterinary medicine.
- Graduate Record Examinations: After completing and passing your SATs and ACTs at the college level, you need to go through Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and/or MCAT when applying to a vet school. Every school has its target standardized test scores, and this information should be available on their websites.
- Letters of Recommendation: You need at least one person to provide a letter of recommendation. Most vet schools require three recommendation letters; one from your academic advisor, veterinarian, and any other person of your choice. It is essential to discuss your academic plans with your academic advisor and course instructor while in college. Some vet schools even require letters of recommendation from two veterinary technicians. As you complete the application, you have the choice to waive your right to see how your application was evaluated or not to waive your right. While you have the right to know how the panel assessed your application, it is advisable to waive the right to examine your letters. Evaluators are told if you have waived the request or not and may be hesitant to give you negative comments depending on your choice. These comments impact how the admission committee evaluates your application.
- Personal Traits and Co-Curricular Activities:
- You are advised to participate in student club activities that increase your appreciation for veterinary practice and offer you the opportunity to gain more knowledge. Accordingly, co-curricular activities will help improve interpersonal and communication skills as you interact with various people. Ensure you are engaged in leadership aspects to increase your chances of getting acceptance from the admission committee.
Undergraduate Educational Requirements
Most vet schools in the United States have similar course requirements. These requirements may vary significantly, depending on school and state. However, the list indicates what you should expect from any institution.
- Two complete semesters of general chemistry and general biology with laboratory practice
- Two complete semesters of organic chemistry with laboratory practice
- Two semesters of physics with laboratory practice
- A semester of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with laboratory practice (some schools add molecular and cell biology to their requirements)
- General education requirements for graduation
- Mathematics, including various fields including calculus, algebra, and trigonometry.
The required credits for every category listed above vary significantly among vet tech schools. It is therefore essential to check many vet schools to find out the one you qualify for. Accordingly, try to gain as much experience with veterinarians as possible and record your work experience. It is also essential to diversify and expose yourself to a wide range of animal care-related activities to broaden your understanding of the veterinary technology program.
What’s the Educational Difference Between A Vet Assistant and A Vet Tech?
Accordingly, the educational requirements for admission into a vet tech school also depend on whether the prospective student wants to be a vet assistant, a vet technician, or a vet technologist. In most cases, these careers fill similar functions. However, vet technologists require additional education compared to technicians and assistants. They also have a wider pool of opportunities and can advance into management and supervisory positions more quickly.
On the same note, vet assistants and vet technicians have close working relationships with veterinarians. They all work to ensure animals are kept in better health conditions. However, a vet assistant often has more administrative roles and responsibilities, while a vet tech assumes more clinical roles. The most notable difference between the two is that a vet assistant offers a supportive role to a vet tech. In this case, a vet tech becomes a supervisor to a vet assistant. A vet tech requires more training and education compared to a vet assistant. However, both specialties can be accomplished through in-campus training or opting for anonline associate’s degree.
Benefits of Becoming A Vet Tech
Vet techs are trained medical professionals who take care of animals to ensure they are in sound health. They use their knowledge of biological, physical, and social sciences to care for sick animals and maintain their quality of life. Vet techs work with veterinarians and physicians to control and to avoid the transmission of diseases. Accordingly, these professionals advance medical technology through research.
The vet tech profession can be more complicated when you consider zoonotic diseases and large-scale production and distribution of food products. Many vet techs in the United States are in private practice, working in a wide range of fields. Some also specialize in specific animal breeds, such as equine medicine or exotics. All in all, there are many benefits of becoming a vet tech, and they are spread over various practices and specialties, not to mention a decent amount of vet tech salary that comes with the practice.
Vet techs in private practice offer primary health care to animals on a case-by-case basis and charge a fee for every case they handle. More than 70% of vet techs in private practice deal with companion animals. Accordingly, they specialize in one or more medical practice areas. Some prefer a group of species such as birds or food animals. Whatever their field of practice, vet techs in the private sector learn to offer primary care to animals and prevent diseases and related health concerns. Accordingly, they reap wholesomely for their services.
Vet techs also have the opportunity to work with the federal government or regional agencies concerned with animal health. In this role, they diagnose diseases, inspect animals, and oversee infectious disease programs. They may also be engaged in research. Such a career path may lead to working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and Army or Air Force Veterinary Corps, among other departments.
Becoming a vet tech can also make you a research veterinarian. In this field, the role is to investigate issues to do with animal health and diseases and develop strategies and new technologies for solving them. These solutions can be in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests that prevent animal diseases. Such career paths may land you in a public or private institution to test the safety and efficiency of new drugs and treatment procedures and evaluate environmental conditions that affect the animal population.
Vet techs have the opportunity to teach at various vet schools and colleges. As an instructor, the responsibility will be to teach and encourage students to develop problem-solving skills and strategies that improve animal health. And you can choose from various options of affordable college towns to practice your art.
In a nutshell, becoming a vet tech opens the door to many career opportunities. You can choose your specialty and mode of practice once you are certified. Accordingly, veterinary medicine offers you the chance to practice your passion. If you love animals, this is an invaluable chance to do what you like and make a decent income off it.
Average Salary and Benefits for Vet Techs
According to statistics, the pet population in the United States is at 377 million and growing. The demand for vet assistants and vet techs is always on the rise. Accordingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the vet tech profession is expected to grow by 9% by 2024, making it one of the most excellent job opportunities. These figures translate into more than 6,600 new jobs by 2024. Such a trend offers good news to prospecting students looking to enter the animal care field by applying to vet tech schools or considering online vet tech programs.
The average annual wage of vet tech stands at $32,426, while the hourly wage is approximately $16.08. However, these figures vary according to the area of operation, animal hospital size and reputation, and years of experience of the vet tech. The best pay pack is always available for the best degree in veterinary medicine. Vet assistants without formalized training have limited employment opportunities. However, they can still find jobs in private practice, group clinics, animal shelters, or city institutions.
On the other hand, vet techs have a 19% employment growth, with this percentage representing more than 17,800 new jobs by 2024. Vet tech education raises the wage bracket. For instance, a registered veterinary technician earns approximately $35,650 annually or $17.0 per hour. Vet techs also have different hourly and annual charges depending on their location of the practice.
Since veterinary medicine education is geared towards animal care, vet techs and assistants have a wide variety of employment opportunities. These range from private practice to collaborations in group veterinary hospitals. The higher the level of education, the higher the compensation package.
The Bottom Line
Vet tech schools in the United States are among accredited medical schools that offer valuable education in animal health care. These institutions are recognized as one of the best higher learning institutions due to the wide range of training they offer. Accordingly, vet tech schools are among the best pathways to excellent career opportunities due to the growing demand for animal health care providers.
Most prospective students often find it hard to settle on a specific vet school or make their applications in a timely fashion. However, you can avoid the hassles by applying to a vet tech school in the fall of your senior year to beat the deadline, giving you ample time to prepare for the GRE test and meet other requirements.
Choosing and applying to a vet tech school may not be a walk in the park. However, the outcome and multiple benefits that accrue from becoming a vet tech or assistant make it worth your time and dedication. There are many factors to consider when submitting your application. And while there are 30 fully accredited veterinary schools in the United States, you need to identify one that resonates with your strengths and weaknesses. You must take time to determine the best vet tech school for you. It is recommended that you apply to up to five vet tech schools to increase your acceptance chances.
After the successful completion of a vet tech program, you need to take a licensing examination to start practicing in the United States as a certified veterinary technician. Every state has its licensing requirements and processes that are made public through various websites. If you are an animal enthusiast, the journey to becoming a licensed veterinary technician will mark the beginning of your adventure and leads to more incredible benefits and satisfaction.