vet tech degree Archives | Broadview University

What Degree Does a Vet Tech Need?

A career as a vet tech is an ideal choice for anyone looking to enter a growing field and has a passion for animals. Did you know that employment for vet techs is anticipated to grow 16 percent through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? With a degree in veterinary technology, you can help all types of animals and work in a variety of environments.

How Do You Become A Vet Tech?

To work as a vet tech, you will first enroll in an accredited vet tech program. You can earn an associate’s degree in less than two years, attending full-time. When you graduate, you must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to be a Certified Veterinary Technician. The vet tech program will teach you everything you need to know to prepare for the VTNE certification.

What Do You Learn During A Vet Tech Degree Program?

There are many topics that you will learn during a vet tech degree program. From dentistry to surgical assisting, and anesthesiology to small animal emergency. With this knowledge, you will be prepared to take the VTNE and become certified.

Animal Dentistry

Vet tech programs teach animal dentistry to allow a vet tech to properly assess the condition of an animal’s teeth and gums, while preparing feedback for the veterinarian. A vet tech can take ultrasounds and x-rays, perform dental cleanings, and fill medications prescribed by the veterinarian.

X-Rays and Imaging

Taking and developing x-rays and imaging techniques are part of the coursework of a vet tech program. Vet techs take x-rays and images so the veterinarian can diagnose an animal’s illness or injury. A vet tech can specialize in oncology or radiology after earning a degree.

Minor Surgical Assisting

During a vet tech degree program, students learn how to prep animals for surgery, sterilize and prepare the surgical suite, and assist the veterinarian. The vet tech also learns how to monitor the patient during minor surgical procedure.

Animal Anatomy & Physiology

Vet tech students study animal anatomy and physiology to understand how disease and injury can affect an animal’s normal function. They also learn about the treatment and medications that will alleviate the animal’s symptoms and pain.

Anesthesiology and Pain Management

Anesthesiology is mainly used during dental cleanings and minor surgical procedures. Students will learn how to administer anesthesia to animals in the proper dosage according to their species and size.

Small Animal Emergency

Vet techs learn how to care for critically injured and sick animals in emergency clinics and hospitals. Vet tech students learn procedures for treating emergency cases from animals that have been injured to those that have ingested a toxic substance. The vet tech learns how to stabilize the animal in an emergency and accurately report the findings to the veterinarian-in-charge.

Large Animal Care

Large animal care involves farm animals like goats, pigs and cattle. These vet techs also care for horses and other large animals that may be located at a sanctuary or zoo. Vet techs must also learn how to treat exotic and zoo animals like llamas, camels, and deer. If you want to pursue a career as a zoo or exotic animal vet tech, further education is required.

VTNE Prep Course

Licensing exam review for the VTNE is part of the core coursework at many vet tech schools. This course counts as credits toward your degree. After completing the degree program, students are prepared to take the VTNE.

What Can You Do with A Vet Tech Degree?

Once you graduate from a vet tech degree program, there are a lot of options for you to use your skills in different environments. They include:

  • Veterinary Practices
  • Animal Hospital
  • Animal Shelter
  • Sanctuary
  • Kennel
  • Farm
  • Zoo

Veterinary Practices

Most vet techs work in veterinary practices. Vet techs greet owners and their pets, complete a health history and better understand the chief concern for their visit. The vet tech will weigh the animal and do a preliminary exam, giving feedback to the veterinarian for further examination. In a veterinary practice, vet techs may work on weekends as well as weekday hours.

Animal Hospitals

Vet techs in animal hospitals assist veterinarians in caring for and treating animals. The animals that are treated usually include dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Emergency clinics are often open 24 hours a day so multiple shifts are available.

Animal Shelters

Vet techs that work in animal shelters are an integral part of the shelter team. Their responsibilities include administering medications to animals that are sick or injured. Some animals arrive at the shelter with injuries. These animals are scared and wary of humans, so vet techs must be patient when caring for them. Shelter vet techs often meet with people at the shelter who want to adopt. They educate prospective pet parents about the animal’s history and needs to ensure they’re being adopted into the best home.

Kennels, Daycare and Boarding Facilities

Vet techs that work in kennels at veterinary hospitals, daycare, or boarding facilities are responsible for the care of the animals. They feed the animals, clean the kennels, and ensure the animals get exercise. They must take care of special dietary needs and medications to keep pets healthy in their care.

Large Animal Facilities

Farm vet techs may work on farms or ranches. However, a lot of vet tech professionals work at animal hospitals or clinics and accompany veterinarians on their rounds. Vet techs that care for farm animals may be responsible for:

  • Recording the case histories of animals in a herd
  • Checking the animals once a month for any injuries or signs of illness
  • Assisting with births
  • Providing first aid
  • Administering vaccinations

Zoos and Sanctuaries

Zoo vet techs assist veterinarians with examinations, administer medication and vaccines, collect samples and run diagnostic tests, administer fluids, and care for newborn animals. A two-year degree program is a pre-requisite to work as a zoo vet tech, but additional training and a certification are required.

What Skills Will You Master During A Vet Tech Degree Program?

You will learn many skills during a vet tech degree program. These skills include communication, math, problem solving and compassion, to name a few. Mastering this set of skills will prepare you for your first day of your new career.

Skill #1: Communication

Excellent communication skills are essential in a veterinary setting. Vet techs must actively listen to veterinarian’s instructions, so no errors are made. They must also listen to pet parents during vet appointments, to best help the animal in their care. Vet techs must also convey instructions to veterinary assistants, so they understand what’s expected of them.

Skill #2: Math

Math skills are important for vet techs. The veterinary technician must know how to measure the correct dosage of medication to administer to a pet and explain the proper dosage to a pet parent for at home care.

Skill #3: Problem Solving

Problem-solving skills are a necessity for vet techs. The vet tech is the first person to interact with a pet and its owner. When an emergency arises, or a co-worker is sick, the vet tech must keep the veterinary practice running smoothly while ensuring pets and their owners don’t have a long wait.

Skill #4: Compassion

Vet techs interact with veterinarians, co-workers, and clients each day. They must have compassion for all the animals in their care and do their best to put them at ease. However, it’s not always as easy to treat people with the same respect. When a pet owner is distressed over their dog or cat’s illness or injury, it’s important for the vet tech to treat the owner with compassion and help them to remain calm.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are interested in becoming a vet tech, it is time to prepare for the VTNE exam. The best way to do this is to complete a vet tech program at an accredited vocational school. This program will not only prepare you for the exam but give you the confidence you need to walk into the veterinary practice on day one and hit the ground running.

Veterinary Technician Program

Interested in learning more about becoming a vet tech? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge, qualities and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

Where Can I Work with a Vet Tech Degree?

Students practicing on a dog to earn their vet tech degree.

Do you love caring for and being around animals? Animal lovers who want to work with animals but don’t want the expense of veterinary school or spending seven or more years earning the necessary credentials to be a veterinarian should consider becoming a vet tech. A student can earn a degree at an accredited school in less than two years. A vet tech plays a crucial role in the care of animals. The duties of vet techs include:

  • Monitoring a pet’s vital signs
  • Assisting with wellness exams
  • Taking and processing laboratory samples
  • Handling diagnostic imaging
  • Assisting with surgical procedures
  • Working as a liaison between veterinarians and pet parents

Helping Pets and Their Owners

For anyone who loves animals, being a vet tech brings a lot of joy into their life. Veterinary technology is one of the most rewarding careers for anyone who wants to care for animals. Veterinary practices serve many pets parents and their pets, and vet techs are an integral part of a vet practice. One of the most gratifying aspects of working as a vet tech is knowing that an animal is feeling better, and that their owner is relieved.

While a career as a vet tech offers a lot of personal satisfaction, it has other benefits as well. Studies have shown that companion animals can reduce stress levels. Although working as a vet tech isn’t play, spending a lot of time around dogs, cats, and other animals is definitely a stress reliever.

Working with Others That Care About Animals

Working each day with other people that love animals has a positive effect on everyone in the workplace. When an animal is injured or sick, they can’t tell us where it hurts. Vet techs must use their problem-solving skills to assist in determining what’s causing the problem and what conclusions to draw to provide the treatment the animal needs.

Vet techs must draw on all the information available to them to diagnosis and treat the animal. Everyone in a veterinary hospital, clinic, or other setting that cares for animals all have the same goal, to heal the animals in their care. Vet techs must draw on all available resources to reach a conclusion, and that means getting the opinion of team members.

An environment in which everyone’s goal is to provide pets with compassionate care makes for a more relaxing environment for the veterinarians, vet techs, and office staff. Pet parents feel more comfortable when they know their pets are getting excellent care, and everyone is working together.

Where a Vet Tech Can Work with a Vet Tech Degree

Earning an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology opens up a world of possibilities for vet tech graduates. When enrolling in a vet tech degree program, students should think about the environment in which they wish to work after graduation. Thinking about their interests and which environment would be most compatible with their expectations of the position. Here are the settings in which vet techs most commonly work.

Vet Practice

The majority of vet techs work in private veterinary practices. The pet parents mainly own dogs and cats, but some practices may also care for small mammals and birds. In a veterinary practice, the vet tech is the first person that interacts with owners and their pets. The vet tech greets the owner and their pet and escorts them to an examining room where they take down the relevant information. For a wellness exam, the vet tech informs the pet parent about updating vaccines, asks if the pet owner has any questions, then assists the vet with the exam.

Animal Hospital

An animal hospital provides more services than the usual wellness, exams, vaccines, spay/neuter surgeries, and dental care. Animal hospitals require a lot more room since pets that are injured, or sick require hospitalization overnight or for several days. A full-service animal hospital has the capability to provide more treatment options and diagnostic services. Vet techs who work in full-service animal hospitals must have extensive training. Among the duties they perform are:

  • Inserting catheters
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Handling lab tests
  • Administering anesthesia
  • Assisting with surgery
  • Monitoring vital signs during surgery and in recovery

Emergency Animal Hospital

An emergency or critical care vet tech must earn an associate degree from an accredited vet tech school. The duties of critical care vet techs differ from vet techs that work in small animal practice. Certification to validate their expertise in caring for critical patients is required. To work in critical care facilities, a vet tech must have 5,700 hours of practical experience in treating critical care and emergency patients.

Kennel Technician

A vet tech that works in a kennel holds an associate degree in veterinary studies. The duties are different from vet techs that work in an animal hospital or clinic. Their responsibilities include basic tasks like feeding and walking animals and being responsible for administering primary medical treatment. Kennel technicians must have excellent organizational skills since they must feed animals according to a schedule. Kennel technicians are also responsible for mixing prescription foods and administering medications.

The kennel technician must clean and disinfect all the kennels. They are responsible for answering phone calls from pet parents, scheduling appointments, and observing animals for possible signs of illness. The kennel technician is also responsible for contacting the veterinarian if any animal is sick or injured.

ASPCA and Other Associations

When a student has earned an associate’s degree and passed the VTNE, there are a lot of opportunities to work closely with the ASPCA, Best Friends, and other organizations around the country that are dedicated to saving animals and preventing animal cruelty. The ASPCA works around the country to protect animals, especially after natural disasters. All these animals must be examined for illness or injury. Vet techs are needed to assist veterinarians in providing treatment for all these animals.

Best Friends operates an animal sanctuary that provides food, shelter, and medical care for animals, including dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. After being rehabilitated, many of the animals are adopted into forever homes. Those that aren’t adoptable live the remainder of their lives at the sanctuary. All of these animals need veterinary care and vet techs to assist veterinarians with treatments.

Specialties for Vet Techs

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America recognizes specialty areas that require additional education for vet techs to be certified after earning an associate’s degree. Among the specialty areas are Surgical Care, Internal Medicine, Nutrition, Animal Dentistry, Behavior, Zoological Medicine, and Equine Practice.

Knowledge and Skills Learned During a Degree Program

Vet techs work under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. They must possess extensive knowledge and a wide range of different skills to assist veterinarians in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of illnesses and injuries. The work is delicate and highly specialized. Here are some of the skills students must have a knowledge of in order to be a vet tech.

Medication and Education

A vet tech isn’t authorized to diagnose, prescribe medications, or perform surgery. However, they assist veterinarians by dispensing medications and providing pet owners with the information to care for their pets at home. It’s essential to have excellent communication skills. There’s no room to make mistakes. While students are enrolled in a vet tech degree program, they learn the nursing skills necessary to administer vaccines, medications, and treatments prescribed by veterinarians. Students must be able to recognize, prepare, measure, and dispense medications for different species of animals and take coursework in pharmacology skills as part of their degree program. They must also learn how to prep animals and instruments for surgical procedures.

Lab Skills

A vet tech must handle a variety of duties in a lab setting. Skills include knowing how to collect, blood, tissue, and urine samples precisely. Vet techs must also know how to correctly take and develop x-rays. Lab work involves a lot of precise calculations, so students should have a firm grasp of science and math skills.


When the work in the lab is completed, all the information must be documented. Vet techs must have strong organizational and management skills. When a veterinarian diagnoses a patient, all the data must be accurately documented. Accurate records must be kept of each patient. Vet techs may have to handle filing, inventory, and keeping track of patient appointments. In some practices, vet techs may also assist veterinarians with research projects.

Good Observation

Veterinary technicians must be detail-oriented and have excellent observation skills. They must always remain focused on the situation at hand, whether they are caring for animals, discussing a case with the attending veterinarian, or assisting a co-worker. When a pet owner comes in with a pet that is sick or injured, the vet tech must focus on evaluating the animal’s condition and getting the necessary information to convey to the veterinarian.

Patient Management

Students learn the skills they need when they’re studying veterinary technology. However, certain attributes, like a calm and patient demeanor, can’t be learned in school. While the priority is always the care of a pet, it’s essential to remember that the dog, cat, or other pet is a family member. Owners get very upset, frustrated, or even angry when their pet isn’t well. Sometimes they take out their frustrations on the nearest person, who might be the one trying to help.

The most important aspect of a situation like this is to make sure the pet is as relaxed as possible. Speaking in a soothing voice and using a gentle touch can allay the fears of a pet that’s sick or in pain. Try to calm the pet parent by asking questions, to get as much information as possible. It also helps to try to reassure the owner that everything is being done to help their pet.

Final Thoughts

You have different options in where to work after obtaining a vet tech degree from a vocational school. Becoming a vet tech is challenging but rewarding. If you love animals and want to help them stay healthy, getting a vet tech degree may be the right choice for you.

Do you have a love for animals and are interested in a vet tech degree? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.