Anyone who is interested in becoming a vet tech has probably heard that it’s possible to get your associate’s degree online through a distance education program.
But wait a second… isn’t being a veterinary technician a really hands-on job?
Don’t you have to actually, you know, work on real animals to learn what to do? How the heck can someone really become a veterinary technician online?
There is plenty of reason to be skeptical about distance education programs, especially when it comes to a hands-on job like this one. But the situation is actually a lot different than you might expect!
Let’s go over some of the reasons why you CAN trust some online vet tech schools:
- There are online schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. When a school is “accredited”, this means that a third-party organization (the AVMA) has taken a close look at the program the school has put together to make sure that it meets their quality guidelines. There are 9 online programs that are accredited by the AVMA as of 2013, and these are the ONLY schools you should be considering if you want to get your degree online. If a school is not accredited, this means that you may not learn everything you need to know to actually do your job. Employers definitely won’t hire a vet tech that doesn’t have a degree from an accredited school.
- All online vet tech programs require hands-on clinical work. The fact that every single legitimate distance learning program requires hands-on work can be a double-edged sword. It’s obviously a great thing because this means you’ll get the hands-on training that you need. It can be a bad thing because it means that this degree isn’t a true “online” degree. You actually have to do a big part of your coursework under the supervision of a veterinarian or licensed vet tech if you want to graduate. If you’re not already working at a veterinary practice, it can be very hard to find a vet that’s willing to let you do this. That’s why most people who enroll in online programs are already employed at an animal practice.
- Graduates are consistently passing the VTNE and getting jobs. Lots of people are probably wondering if employers will take their online degree seriously. The fact that so many graduates from these online schools are passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), and also finding jobs quickly after graduation should tell you that the answer is YES – accredited degrees are worth the time and money! The schools I spoke with reported VTNE pass rates in the 95%-100% range, and most said that all of their graduates have a full-time vet tech job by the time they are finished with the program. Sounds good to me!
The bottom line is that you can trust online vet tech programs. Just make sure that:
- The school you are interested in is accredited by the AVMA
- You have a place to complete the clinical coursework your degree requires, and
- You study hard for the VTNE and be proactive about sending out your resume to prospective employers.
If you do these three things, you’ll have a job in no time at all. Good luck!