Veterinary technicians are people who work with animals in the role of assistant. Some veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in hospitals, clinics and private practices, while others work with animals in biological laboratories that perform tests on animals. Veterinary technicians have to complete some college education but do not have to have bachelor's degrees. In general, veterinary technician programs lead to an associate's degree in veterinary technology.
Associate's degrees in veterinary technology require students to complete 60 to 72 credits of coursework. These programs take about two to three years and require general education courses, natural science classes and a number of major-specific courses. Many veterinary technician courses include laboratory sections and clinical work experience to give students hands-on experience in dealing with animals in various medical situations.
In the first year of the program, prospective veterinary technicians typically take general education and natural science prerequisites courses. Requirements vary, but most programs require students to take a year of general biology with a laboratory section, a course in writing, such as freshman composition, a course in mathematics and a course in general psychology. The type of math course that students take depends on their experience in mathematics, but most students take either pre-algebra or college algebra.
Students enrolled in veterinary technician programs spend their second year in the program taking foundation courses in the field. These courses introduce them to the study of veterinary technology and give them additional theoretical and clinical experience in anatomy and physiology. Requirements vary, but many programs require students to take an introductory course in veterinary technology, pharmacology, veterinary anatomy and physiology, and veterinary medical terminology. Examples of other possible courses are veterinary ethics, veterinary parasitology and canine and feline clinical management.
The third year of a veterinary technician program builds upon the topics introduced in the second year and focuses on giving students clinical experience in the field. Different programs have different requirements, but many require students to take one or two courses in veterinary clinical pathology, a course in anesthesia, a course in radiology and one or two courses in equine and lab animal clinical management. In addition to this coursework, many programs also require prospective veterinary technicians to complete five to fifteen hours of a veterinary practicum, where they get hands-on experience doing what they are trained to do in a real-world environment.
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