There are primarily two levels of education for entry into this occupation: a 4-year program for veterinary technologists and a 2-year program for veterinary technicians. Typically, both technologists and technicians must pass a credentialing exam and must become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the state in which they work.
Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. In 2015, there were 231 veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate's degree for veterinary technicians. Twenty-three colleges offer a 4-year bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. Nine schools offer coursework through distance learning.
People interested in becoming a veterinary technologist or technician should take high school classes in biology and other sciences, as well as math.
For technologists seeking work in a research facility, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) offers the following certifications for technicians and technologists: Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG).
Although certification is not mandatory, workers at each level can show competency in animal husbandry, health and welfare, and facility administration and management to prospective employers. To become certified, candidates must have work experience in a laboratory animal facility and pass the AALAS examination.
Communication skills. Veterinary technologists and technicians spend a substantial amount of their time communicating with supervisors, animal owners, and other staff. In addition, a growing number of technicians counsel pet owners on animal behavior and nutrition.
Compassion. Veterinary technologists and technicians must treat animals with kindness and must be sensitive when dealing with the owners of sick pets.
Detail oriented. Veterinary technologists and technicians must pay attention to detail. They must be precise when recording information, performing diagnostic tests, and administering medication.
Manual dexterity. Veterinary technologists and technicians must handle animals, medical instruments, and laboratory equipment with care. They do intricate tasks, such as dental work, giving anesthesia, and taking x rays, which require a steady hand.
Problem-solving skills. Veterinary technologists and technicians need strong problem-solving skills in order to identify injuries and illnesses and offer the appropriate treatment.