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Online veterinary schools and vet tech degree programs

Veterinary careers are a growing field and demand is particularly strong for technicians and technologists. Those occupations are expected to see 19 percent job growth from 2014-2024.

You may be surprised to learn there are online veterinary schools. These programs can be used for careers as veterinary assistants, technicians or technologists or could be the starting point to get into veterinarian schools.

Online vet tech programs are not common, but as the chart below shows, they do exist. You may not be able to earn a veterinarian degree online, but you can complete your pre-veterinary studies or train to be a veterinary technician from the comfort of your own home.

Program type

Certificate

Associate degree

Bachelor's degree

Online

Pre-Veterinary Studies

6

37

28

4

Vet Tech/Vet Assistant

102

225

25

7

Source: National Center for Education Statistics (2015)

Entry-level veterinary and vet tech programs

Online veterinary schools offer several options for those who are just starting out in the field. The most common entry-level jobs are that of a veterinary assistant and a veterinary technician. Each has its own education requirements and a national exam for students to demonstrate their mastery of the field.

Depending on which career you'd like to pursue, you may need one of the following levels of education.

  • Diploma/certificate: Veterinary assistants generally don't need a degree, but they may find they have greater employment options if they earn a post-secondary diploma or certificate. Currently, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has approved 25 campus programs and 3 online programs in veterinary assisting. Graduates of these programs have the option of sitting for the Approved Veterinary Assistant examination.
  • Associate degree: Those who would like to take a more hands-on role in a veterinarian's office may find a job as a veterinary technician is right for them. These jobs are available to those who have earned an associate degree. The American Veterinary Medical Association has approved 160 technology programs as well as 8 online vet tech programs. Some states require technicians to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam and be licensed or registered before they can begin working.

Diploma and certificate programs may cover topics such how to properly sterilize instruments and monitor animals. An associate degree takes two years to complete and may cover nursing, radiology, dentistry and clinical laboratory procedures. Online veterinary schools may have practicum requirements that can be completed in clinics near a student's home.

Advanced veterinarian schools and programs

Entry-level options can be a good way for students to get into the workplace in fewer than two years. However, for those who want to advance their career, additional schooling options are available. Here's how you can become a veterinary technologist or work as a veterinarian yourself.

  • Bachelor's degree: Veterinary technologists need to have a bachelor's degree and while they may be employed in a private practice, they are often found in research settings. They can administer medicines, prepare tissue samples for examination and keep detailed lab records. Bachelor's degree programs often cover advanced topics such as anesthesia, critical care, ethics and pharmacology.
  • Professional degree: There are 30 accredited veterinarian schools in the U.S. which can confer a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. These programs are highly competitive and take approximately four years to complete. During that time, students will need to meet classroom, clinical and laboratory requirements. After graduation, students must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination before they can begin practicing.

Because of the hands-on nature of the field, you cannot earn a DVM veterinarian degree online. However, there are some online veterinary schools offering bachelor's degrees.

Types of veterinary careers

There are a number of different animal-related jobs people can fill. They may work in kennels, shelters or farms. Others may choose to become trainers or groomers. However, when we talk about veterinary science, colleges that do animal care typically focus on the four occupations listed in the chart below. These are the careers that require workers to have a certain level of medical skill and knowledge.

For those interested in online veterinary schools, here's a look at the career growth and salary potential awaiting graduates.

Position

Employment (2015)

Average salary (2015)

Expected job growth (2014-2024)

Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caregivers

75,620

$25,940

9%

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

95,790

$33,280

19%

Veterinarians

65,650

$99,000

9%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015)

Common misconceptions about veterinary careers

It's not surprising many people go into veterinary careers because they want to work with animals. However, they may forget they need to work with human clients as well as animal clients. Veterinary professionals need to work with owners to address problems and collaborate on solutions.

What's more, some people do not realize that states can have strict guidelines regarding veterinary records and their storage. Veterinary assistants, technicians and administrative staff may find that working with paper and electronic records is as much a part of their job as working with animals.

Finally, it is a common misconception that veterinary medicine is not a rigorous or challenging field. While the stakes may not be as high as with human medicine, veterinarians and their staff spend years learning anatomy and medical procedures. Just as medical doctors, veterinary workers must adhere to a high level of professionalism and ethics.

How can I enroll in an online veterinary school?

The process and requirements will vary by school. However, most programs require students to submit an application and fee to the school along with a sealed transcript from their previous education.

Some online veterinary tech programs may also require students gain a background in the field prior to admission to the program. For example, St. Petersburg College requires applicants to complete at least 40 hours of veterinary hospital observation prior to entering their veterinary technology online program.

To learn more about online veterinary schools and their requirements, you'll find a list of colleges that do animal care below. Contact one or more to request additional information today.

Sources:
1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=all&p=47.0604&pd=1&l=92&id=176008
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition
3. Popular Career Choices for Today's Kids, Hannah Morgan, Career Sherpa, April 24, 2015, http://careersherpa.net/popular-career-choices-for-todays-kids/
4. FAQs, National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, http://www.navta.net/?page=faqs
5. Veterinary Assistant Programs, National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, http://www.navta.net/?page=vet_asst_program
6. Veterinary Technology A.S. Online, St. Petersburg College, http://www.spcollege.edu/VT-ASOnline/

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