Veterinary assistants can be either veterinary technicians or technologists. Though to become a technologist requires more education, veterinary technicians can gain an entry level position by obtaining an associate's degree and passing state licensing exams. A bachelor's degree in veterinary technology is more intensive and can allow for faster career advancement.
Veterinary technicians can complete an associate's degree in veterinary technology from a school or institute accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, usually within two years. Portions of most programs are taught in a laboratory or clinical setting to allow students experiences with animals during the course of their education. After graduation, technicians work under the supervision of doctors of veterinary medicine while in training.
Veterinary technologists complete a four-year degree from an accredited institution that is more extensive in nature and a technician course of study. These programs can include education and training in veterinary pharmacology and radiology, allowing technologists to specialize and participate in various veterinary procedures once employed after graduation. Graduates often participate in a training program under the supervision of a veterinarian when first employed. Licensing and certification vary by state, but technologists are prepared upon graduation to sit for required examinations.
State Licensing and Certification
Many states use the National Veterinary Technician exam for certification. The certification can often be transferred between states after being conferred. The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, AALAS is a recommended certification for those graduates who wish to work in a veterinary lab. There are three levels within this certification, the assistant laboratory animal technician, the laboratory animal technician and the laboratory animal technologist.
Veterinary Technician Assistants
Some high schools or organizations with an accreditation from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians offer assistant programs that allow individuals to complete a certification allowing them to assist veterinary technicians in performing their regular duties. People completing these programs and passing a certification examination are eligible for entry level positions assisting in veterinary offices.