Can You Become a Vet Tech Online?

Oct 20, 2021

Online Vet Tech Programs

Can you become a vet tech online? Individuals who are looking to become vet techs through online programs can consider a wide range of factors when deciding whether to enroll, including online learning format options, degree possibilities, admission requirements, and program requirements. It is also helpful to understand the difference between vet technicians and technologists, as well as the requirements for certification.

Various schools across the country offer accredited online learning programs for students interested in becoming a vet tech online. However, the programs typically consist of a mixture of academic coursework and on-site practical training. These undergraduate degree programs may last between two and four years and cover similar topics, though prerequisites, eligibility requirements and program outlines can vary.

Hands-on clinical experiences are usually undertaken at an approved veterinary site near the student, though it's important to note that some schools limit clinical sites to specific states, or they may not be able to offer distance education to students in certain states.

Steps to Becoming a Vet Tech

Can you get a vet tech degree online? There are several steps involved in becoming a vet tech.

  1. Earn your high school diploma or equivalent. If you know in high school that you're interested in veterinary medicine, it's a great idea to get some experience under your belt. Volunteer at an animal shelter, and work hard at your science courses.
  2. Choose your course of study. There are differences between veterinary technicians and technologists (see more information below), both in employment duties and educational preparation. The job you want will affect the program you choose.
  3. Earn your degree. Do you need a degree to be a vet tech? Yes, veterinary technicians usually need an associate's degree, while veterinary technologists need a bachelor's degree. Be sure your chosen program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Some schools offer a large portion of their associate's or bachelor's degree online, but you will still likely need to do clinical work in person.
  4. Take and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination.
  5. Follow your state's requirements for state licensure. These requirements vary by state, so look up the timeline, paperwork, and fees that are required by your state.
  6. Find a fabulous job in your chosen field. Note that while it is not required, some vet techs hold a job as a veterinary assistant at some point in their preparation process. Veterinary assistants are not required to have a degree and get much of their training on-the-job, making a job as a veterinary assistant a good preparatory step for prospective vet techs.

Degree Options

For students wondering how to become a vet tech online, there are distance learning programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) that meet eligibility requirements to become a registered veterinary technician. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.

The few online bachelor's programs available for aspiring veterinary technologists may allow students to specialize in a course of study, such as vet hospital management, equine studies, companion animals and advanced clinical applications. Most of these bachelor's programs only admit students who have already graduated from an AVMA-approved associate's program.

Admissions Requirements

Common prerequisites for online vet tech programs include:

  • High school diploma/GED
  • High school coursework in the following subjects:
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Math
    • English
  • Previous work experience in veterinary clinic settings
  • Observation hours at a veterinary clinic
  • SAT/ACT Scores

Vet Tech Online Courses

Prior to graduation, aspiring vet techs are typically required to fulfill a certain number of classroom and clinical credits. Some of the best online vet tech programs include courses in:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology
  • Animal disease
  • Anesthesia
  • Small and large animal nursing

Vet Tech Preparation Costs

How much does it cost to become a vet tech? The cost of individual programs varies by university, and remember that a four-year bachelor's degree will cost more than a two-year associate's degree. It is important to also take into account the cost of taking the licensure exam, as well as any fees involved in attaining your state certification.

Can I become a vet tech online? Keep reading to find out.

Differences Between Vet Technicians and Technologists

The major differences between veterinary technicians and technologists include management and research skills. Veterinary technicians are typically required to hold an associate's degree. These professionals assist veterinarians with medical procedures and other tasks, such as:

  • Dental care
  • Examinations
  • Anesthetics
  • General nursing for animals

Veterinary technologists often need to have completed a four-year bachelor's degree program, and they may receive specialized training in areas such as pharmaceutical research and testing, clinical management, cellular biology or large animal handling. They may work in veterinary offices, but many also work in laboratory settings where they assist scientists with veterinary research. In these jobs, some of their duties can include:

  • Collecting laboratory samples like blood, urine or tissue
  • Preparing tissue samples for further study
  • Giving lab animals medications
  • Recording observations in animal studies

American Association of Veterinary State Boards Certification

Veterinary technicians typically need at least a 2-year associate degree from an AVMA-accredited vet tech program, though some state boards allow related 2- and 4-year degrees. A few states also accept work experience to meet eligibility requirements for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).

The American Association of Veterinary State Boards must provide the approval to take the VTNE, though individual states award certification. The test is only offered during three time windows each year, and applications must be submitted a month prior to the beginning of the examination period. Each state has its own requirements for certification eligibility. Students should check with their state veterinary examination board or association for the necessary qualifications.

State Licensure and Certification

Most states require passage of the VTNE prior to state registration as a vet tech. Scores from the VTNE are submitted directly to the student's state board for review and certification conferral. Some states also provide their own test before awarding licensure. Typically, a fee must be paid to the state board or association responsible for licensing vet techs.

Vet Tech Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for vet tech and technologists were anticipated to increase 16% between 2019 and 2029. Veterinary technologists have additional employment options in research facilities providing biomedical advances, diagnostic discoveries and improved safety measures for animal-related products and services.

Position Degree Required Salary (Median, 2019) Outlook (2019-2029)
Veterinary Assistant High School $28,590 16% growth
Veterinary Technician Associate's $35,320 16% growth
Veterinary Technologist Bachelor's $35,320 16% growth

Statistics taken from U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)

Aspiring vet techs can find relevant online training programs that provide science and veterinary practice-focused coursework, which can help them prepare for licensure and career success.

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