Not sure which vet tech schools to apply to? We’ve got good news: you’re not alone!
Picking the right college is so important – it’s something that can make or break your career, and if that’s not pressure enough, there are different courses available at the different universities (some 4 years, some 2 years and also a few online!), which makes it’s even harder to figure out which institution is right for you. We totally get it! Below, we outline the difference between the range of courses offered, list some of the best veterinary technician schools in the country and include some advice to help you make the best possible decision for your career.
The most common courses you may hear about are the 2-year associates degree (Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology) and the 4-year bachelors degree (Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology). Both programs give you the opportunity to work with live animals, run tests in a laboratory and teach you how to interact with both the vets you work with and the pet owners you meet. There is even a 3-year program that offers you the chance to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Veterinary Technology Management. Then there are other institutions that offer the associates degree program over an 18-month period, instead of the usual 24 months.
And that’s not all! There are also some online vet tech schools that offer distance learning courses for you to get either an associates or bachelors degree in veterinary technology. This is a great option for you if you’re temporarily living overseas, a stay-at-home mom or considering changing your career while you remain in your current job. The great thing about pursuing a career in veterinary technology (besides the actual job of course!) is that there are so many vet tech schools to choose from. Regardless of where you live in the US, you should be able to find a vet tech school that meets your individual needs.
However, we do have a word of warning:
It’s vital that you check before enrolling in any program that the vet tech school you are enrolling at is AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited – there are quite a few institutions that are not! If a school is not AVMA accredited, you will not be able to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam or any other veterinary technician credentialing exams. In other words, you would never end up becoming a certified vet tech, despite having a degree in veterinary technology. Talk about a waste of time, money and hard work!
Besides the fact that the degrees differ (i.e. one is an associates degree, the other is a bachelors), the 4-year program allows you to qualify as a veterinary technologist rather than a veterinary technician. In essence, there’s nothing really different between these two job titles, except that the word ‘technologist’ indicates that you’ve studied longer. The terms are often used interchangeably; that’s why many technologists are hired as vet technicians after graduating. In fact, only one state in the US recognizes the title “veterinary technologist” as a separate job title to a “veterinary technician”. Therefore, a vet ‘technologist’, who has studied for 4 years could end up earning the same salary as a vet “technician” who has studied only 2 years!
However, this is not always the case. There are some benefits to choosing the bachelors degree over the associates. Students attending 4-year vet tech schools graduate with an extra two years worth of in-depth learning, practicing and mastering the skills they are taught, which may give them more confidence as they enter the working world, and even an advantage over other graduate vet techs who have only studied for 2 years.
Graduates from 4-year vet tech schools can earn more than those with an associates degree, after time and experience in the working world, or by specializing in a field, such as research, anesthesia or even teaching. As they prove their worth because of the extra training they received at university, they may be sought after (and therefore offered more salary-wise) than a vet tech with less experience.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of which program you’d like to study, we can help you figure out which school is best for you. Remember, the important thing is to make sure that any institution you consider is accredited by AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). Below, we list a few of the AVMA accredited vet tech schools, including some of the best in the country:
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Michigan State University, Colorado Mountain College, University of Nebraska, Mercy College, Quinnipiac University
Miami Dade College, St. Petersburg College, Murray State University, Oklahoma State University, Lincoln Memorial University, Fort Valley State University, Sul Ross State University
Northeast Iowa Community College, Colorado Mountain College, Vet Tech Institute (they actually offer an 18-month course), Bradford School (they also offer an 18-month program), The University of New Hampshire
Houston Community College System, Northern Virginia Community College, Lone Star College System, Pima Community College, Mt. San Antonio College, Central New Mexico Community College, Columbus State Community College
We’ve listed only a few of the good universities – there are plenty! In fact, there are more than 200 accredited vet tech schools in the US alone, meaning you should find at least one in your state that is suitable. If not, some institutions offer distance learning, which may be a better option and even more affordable for you. (Remember that if you do go the distance learning route, you will need to get experience working with animals – possibly by volunteering at your local vet or animal shelter – to complete the practical part of the course.)
Regardless of which degree you decide to pursue, we have some final tips for you to choose (and get into) the best possible veterinary technician school for you:
1. Take biology and any other science subject available at school. This will help you to get into a vet tech university program.
2. Get some experience by volunteering / interning at an animal hospital, shelter or private clinic. This gives you an idea of what it means to work as a vet tech before you begin your studies and helps you to excel in your classes once you’re at university. What’s more, the additional hands-on experience with live animals and their owners gives you an added advantage when it comes to finding your first paid job.
3. Check the Veterinary Technician National Exam pass rate of past/current graduates from the school you are considering – this will indicate how well the school prepares you for becoming a vet tech. If their pass rate is not good, the chances are their program isn’t either.
4. Choose a school with a good reputation. Employers have a fair idea of which schools offer good programs. Some vet tech schools become renowned for their impressive graduates – as a result, these students are highly sought after when a vet tech position becomes available. By choosing a school with a great reputation, you set yourself up for finding a solid job once you graduate.
By following these steps and doing your own research into potential vet tech schools that you can enroll at, we’re sure you’ll find one that meets your needs and gets you from where you are now to where you’d like to be one day.