Looking After The Health of Animals: Veterinary Assisting and Technology Degree

Do you love spending time with animals, but more importantly, would like to keep them healthy? Would you like to assist a veterinarian with the tasks of running medical tests as well as feeding and grooming the animals? If so, studying veterinary assisting and technology offers a great way to learn all the basic skills that are required to be qualified for this kind of work. It can be an important first step for anyone interested in becoming a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant and work in an industry where you care for animals. When working in this industry you’ll not only be dealing with animals, but also their owners, in order to deliver a vital and much appreciated service.

Veterinary Assisting and Technology Degree Information

Veterinary Assisting Program

A veterinary assisting program, which results in a certificate, can be completed in about 36 weeks, not counting breaks. This type of course can help to prepare students for the administrative as well as clinical, nursing and assisting procedures that they will experience in a real veterinary medical setting. Technical courses that are typically included in this type of program range from hospital practices and laboratory procedures to animal nursing and care, surgical nursing and specialty care, pharmacy practice, and veterinary assisting techniques.

Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology

The Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology degree program is aimed at students who want to become veterinary technicians. It provides students with a combination of basic knowledge as well as practical training to prepare them for a career in the veterinary medical industry. Typically this type of program also adequately prepares students for the Veterinary Technician National Examination. Course topics may include veterinary medical terminology, clinical rotation, body systems, and selected topics in veterinary technology. Program electives may range from animal behavior to equine behavior, general genetics and more. It usually takes about two years to complete this type of degree.

Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology

A Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology degree is also available to students who wish to enhance their career prospects in this field. Core courses for this type of degree tend to include veterinary pharmacology, advanced veterinary terminology and safety and regulatory compliance in veterinary technology. Students may choose a clinical track, hospital management track or a combination of the two with elective courses such as small animal nutrition, companion animal diseases, integrative veterinary nursing, advanced veterinary behavior and principles of animal nutrition.

Veterinary Assisting and Technology FAQs

Is It Possible To Study Veterinary Assisting and Technology Online?

Although it is possible to study veterinary assisting and technology online, it is important to make sure that the course meets the same accreditation standards as a campus based program. A good online course will also include a clinical component which can be done through licensed veterinarian sponsorship. Students who wish to become veterinary technicians and not just assistants must also pass a Veterinary Technician National Examination in most states, so it is helpful if this is included in your online course. Online veterinary assisting and technology courses are ideal for students who are already employed with a veterinarian and would like to improve their career prospects. Studying online can also be useful for students who are unable to attend a campus class due to work or other obligations. Bachelors degrees in veterinary technology are also offered entirely online.

Who Is An Ideal Candidate To Study In This Field?

A love for animals is an advantage when studying in this field, but you must also be able to cope with the physical and emotional demands of the job. It is not uncommon to deal with animals that have been abused or with serious illnesses and injuries, which can be very difficult to experience. The job also comes with a certain amount of risk as animals may be scared or aggressive and attempt to bite or scratch anyone handling them. Communication skills are just as important as you will not only be spending time with animals, but also talking to owners, staff and supervisors. It is not uncommon for pet owners to seek out counseling on the behavior of their animals or their nutritional needs either. Being compassionate is another trait that is valued in this industry as you not only have to treat the animals under your care with respect, but also handle their owners in a sensitive manner. Manual dexterity is obviously a must as you spend a lot of time working with your hands. Finally, it will be a big advantage if you are detail oriented and have good problem-solving skills.

What Are My Possible Career Choices After Studying Veterinary Assisting and Technology? 

After completing this type of degree, students typically go on to become veterinary technicians or assistants. Employers that are interested in candidates with this type of qualification include animal clinics, animal shelters, veterinarian’s offices, preserves, zoos and even some pet stores. Animal hospitals, private clinics and laboratories also usually have a need for veterinary technicians.

What Type of Duties Might I Have When Employed In This Sector?

When employed in this sector your duties will depend on whether you are working as a veterinary assistant or veterinary technician. Veterinary technicians tend to assist the veterinarians directly with tasks such as surgeries or routine examinations. They might also be required to administer medication, conduct lab test and work with technology, such as X-ray machines, in order to diagnose animals. In the event of emergencies or if the veterinarian is not present, a veterinary technician might be required to treat small wounds or injuries.

Veterinary assistants on the other hand usually perform tasks such as weighing animals, checking their vital signs and gathering information about pets from their owners. Assistants might also be tasked with keeping animals calm while the veterinarian exams them. Additional duties often include exercising animals, such as cats and dogs, that stay at a clinic to recover, as well as feeding animals and keeping their cages clean. Due to the fact that many clinics operate day and night, being employed in this industry means that you might have to work at night, over weekends and during holidays. 

How Much Can I Potentially Earn When Working In Veterinary Assisting and Technology?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median pay for veterinary technologists and technicians was about $32,490 per year, which is about $15.62 per hour. The typical entry-level education for people employed in this position is an associate’s degree, which highlights the importance of furthering your studies. On the other hand, veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers earn about $25,250 per year, which is an average of $1214 per hour.

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