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Last updated on Mar 03, 2020

The Best Veterinarian Technician Programs

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Veterinarian technicians face a challenging yet rewarding role. If you’re interested in pursuing this field, it is essential to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel as a veterinary technician. Many veterinarian technician programs offer a combination of classroom settings and hands-on field training. If you’re looking to earn a degree that’s centered around helping animals feel better and live longer, then a veterinarian technician program may be ideal for you.

There are various paths a veterinary technician can take. Depending on your goals and ambitions, you’ll be able to choose in what setting you work, what animals you help, and what specialty is best for you. Finding a program that best fits your interests can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We compiled a list of veterinary technician programs across the country and dug into things like on-campus clinical facilities and the cost of attendance.

The 10 Best Veterinarian Technician Online Programs

  • Purdue University-Main Campus
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Texas A & M University-College Station
  • University of New Hampshire-Main Campus
  • Michigan State University
  • Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • North Dakota State University-Main Campus
  • Vermont Technical College

UniversityPurdue University-Main CampusUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonTexas A & M University-College StationUniversity of New Hampshire-Main CampusMichigan State UniversityNebraska College of Technical AgricultureBrigham Young University-IDUniversity of Massachusetts-AmherstNorth Dakota State University-Main CampusVermont Technical College

UniversityLocationOur RankingIn-state TuitionGraduation RateLoan Default RateAdmission Rate
Purdue University-Main CampusWest Lafayette, IN4.7/5$9,99281%2.5%58%
University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadison, WI4.7/5$10,55587%1.5%52%
Texas A & M University-College StationCollege Station, TX4.7/5$11,87082%2.2%68%
University of New Hampshire-Main CampusDurham, NH4.1/5$18,49977%2.2%77%
Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, MI4.0/5$14,46080%3.3%78%
Nebraska College of Technical AgricultureCurtis, NE4.0/5$5,22857%3.4%100%
Brigham Young University-IDRexburg, ID4.0/5$4,11857%3.5%97%
University of Massachusetts-AmherstAmherst, MA3.7/5$15,88780%3.2%60%
North Dakota State University-Main CampusFargo, ND3.7/5$9,41458%3.0%93%
Vermont Technical CollegeRandolph Center, VT3.0/5$15,10851%5.1%68%

*Tuition costs are based on 2019-2020 figures and are subject to change per academic year.
**Based on overall university rates.

Purdue University-Main Campus

Purdue’s Veterinary Nursing Distance Learning program (VNDL) helps students earn an associate’s degree through a hybrid format that allows students to continue working during their studies. Formerly known as the Associate’s in Veterinary Technology, students of this program must complete 46.5 hours of online coursework, as well as 18 clinic mentorship experiences (18.5 hours). These experiences are conducted within a veterinary office, where the student is expected to participate in essential tasks of the veterinary nurse job.

In-state tuition averages $9,992 per year, and the graduation rate is high at 81%. Acceptance, however, isn’t guaranteed, with an admissions rate of just 58%. The average length of time to complete this part-time, online program is 5.8 years, though students can use the school’s customizable pathways to success to develop the schedule that works best for them, whether that takes three years to complete or six.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Wisconsin offers continuing education in veterinary medicine program that mixes online distance learning with in-person labs. Students choose from 250 pre-recorded courses ranging from surgical patient care to diseases in cats and dogs. The in-person half of the program requires students to attend conferences on a variety of topics and participate in labs and internships. During classes, students will learn tasks and methods from faculty and experts in the field, allowing them to develop the necessary skills.

In-state tuition for this program averages around $10,555, and the graduation rate is very high at 87%. However, the admissions rate is only 52%, indicating there is a competition to get in. The loan default rate is the lowest at 1.5%, meaning that graduates most likely were able to find a job easily after graduation.

Texas A&M University-College Station

At the Blinn College District, the Veterinary Technology Program is available through the collaborative partnership with Texas A&M’s Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM). This two-year program uses classroom learning and in-person training to help students become fully-credentialed licensed veterinary technicians (LVT). It prepares students for employment in settings like zoos, animal shelters, wildlife facilities, and reproductive facilities.

In-state tuition averages around $11,870, making the Veterinary Technology Program from Texas A&M a great option for prospective students with a graduation rate of 82%. The admission rate is 68%, and the loan default rate is only 2.2%. Interested applicants are required to have a minimum of 40 hours of supplemental clinical experience and attend a veterinary technology information session. Documentation of clinical experience is required.

University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

Ranked #2 in the country, the University of New Hampshire has an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology. Accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, this program allows students to transfer to the University’s four-year animal science program if interested. If they choose to do that, they can earn a bachelor’s degree with only two additional years of study. Transferring is not required. The AAS program equips students with a strong foundation of comprehensive medical care. Hands-on learning and practical experience opportunities are held at their PAWS Veterinary Teaching ClinicThomas P. Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, and UNH Equine Facilities.

The tuition is considerably more than other programs, with UNH’s Veterinary Technology program averaging around $18,499. Both its graduation and admission rate is 77%. Students who complete this program are eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) and seek credentialing.

Michigan State University

With 50 years of operation under its belt, Michigan State University’s Veterinary Technology program is ranked third across the country among undergraduate veterinary programs. This program gives students not only the chance to take classes like veterinary nursing and physiology but refine their knowledge through clinical application. Clinical experience will take place at the MSU Veterinary Medical Center. This program is offered in two ways: a Certificate of Completion or a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology. The BS path requires a total of 120 credit hours to graduate, with 76 of those hours dedicated to veterinary technology credits. The Associate of Applied Science and the Certificate of Completion is a five-semester program. The classes are smaller, generally under 30 students, which allows the students to thrive together and create a close-knit group that lasts the duration of the program.

The tuition is slightly higher than the other options presented, averaging around $14,460. However, MSU’s program has a 78% acceptance rate and an 80% graduation rate. To be accepted, a minimum of 80 hours of veterinary-related experience is required.

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

The Veterinary Technology Division at Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) offers five different Associate of Applied Science degree options: Veterinary TechnicianVeterinary AssistantAnimal Health ManagementAnimal Husbandry, and Equine Health. Giving students the opportunity to choose what path best fits them, these unique programs have coursework both online and in-person, with a heavy focus on clinical experience.

Veterinary technician and veterinary assistant students will learn how to handle animals, including exotic animals, and pick up skills through required courses and hands-on experience at the on-campus Veterinary Teaching Clinic. Working at the clinic familiarizes students with how facilities operate and gives them practice with things like animal health, immunization, and surgery.

Both in-state and out-of-state students pay the same amount for classes, which averages out to approximately $5,228. This is by far one of the most economical out there. NCTA’s graduation rate is on the lower end at 57%, which is somewhat surprising with an acceptance rate of 100%. The veterinary assistant and veterinary technician track both have similar credit requirements. Of the 78 total hours required for graduation, 20 of them go to the Associate of Applied Science curriculum and the remaining 58 go to focused courses and internships. A Veterinary Technology Transfer Option is also available.

Brigham Young University-Idaho

Brigham Young University offers an Associate in Animal Science and a Bachelor in Animal Science degree under its Animal and Food Science department. Unlike other programs, these pathways are designed to focus on the scientific side of animal care in areas such as: genetics, nutrition, health and disease, and reproduction. The BS in Animal Health and Veterinary Science is tailored for students who wish to work in animal production agriculture or want to enter veterinary school. The Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology degree trains students in animal health and husbandry for pets and livestock. This program grooms students to work in settings like a private veterinary practice, zoos, or animal hospital.

Set on a 67 credit hour scale,48 of those hours are required for major classes and internships. It’s set out in a five-semester plan, though students do have the chance to customize their course load as long as they complete the program in no longer than eight semesters. The average tuition for this program is $4,118, making it the cheapest degree option on the list. Acceptance is highly likely at 97%, though their graduation rate hangs around 57%.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Unlike other options, UMass has three specialty programs that lead to a Bachelor of Science degree: Veterinary TechnologyAnimal SciencePre-Veterinary Science. Each program is designed to complement each other, allowing students to transition between them as they solidify their interests and discover their strengths. The BS in Veterinary Technology is a unique hybrid program. Instead of being partly online, this program is split into two locations. In the first two years of the program, students take classes and attend labs on the Amherst campus, near Boston. The final two years will be held on the Amherst-Mt. Ida campus, located in Newton, Massachusetts, in the dedicated veterinary technology facility.

The average tuition for this program is $15,887, which is on the higher end. Remember, this is a bachelor’s program, and students will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. So depending on your interest, the experience may outweigh the costs. The acceptance rate is only 60%, though the graduation rate for this program is at an impressive 80%. After completing this program and passing the VTNE, graduates are prepared to start their career as a veterinary technician in either biomedical research or veterinary medicine.

North Dakota State University-Main Campus

A four-year bachelor of science degree, North Dakota State University’s Veterinary Technology program blends in-classroom courses with hands-on clinical experience. Classes will cover a variety of topics, including: clinical pathology, radiography, and surgical nursing. Enrollment in a clinical externship is required and only allowed after the successful completion of all veterinary technology courses. However, if you later decide not to pursue the program, credits earned your first year can transfer to another NDSU major.

NDSU gives students the flexibility to design its program that fits an ideal course load. Another perk that NDSU offers is the Veterinary Technology Club, which allows students to come together in a social setting to discuss goals and shared interests. The Veterinary Technology Club is a great way to get involved in professional and community settings.

NDSU’s tuition averages around $9,414. There are scholarships through the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural resources to help offset the cost. The LuAnn Lee Memorial scholarship program is also available to eligible students. The acceptance rate of this program is very high at 93%, though their graduation rate is only 58%.

Vermont Technical College

The two-year Associate of Applied Science Veterinary Technology program from Vermont Technical College gives students the chance to take classes like zoology, pharmacology, and toxicology. Students gain hands-on experience by working on the college farm with horses and cattle. The main facility will familiarize students with animals like cats, dogs, and reptiles. Various scholarships are available for this program, making it an accessible option, even with tuition of $15,108. After graduating from VTC’s program, students will be eligible to take the VTNE and pursue their subsequent credentials.

VTC has an acceptance rate of 68%, with a graduation rate of only 51%. Its rigorous four-semester course standards could be contributing to this low graduation rate. Students are required to secure a minimum of a C in their core veterinary classes. If a student does not get a C after two attempts, they are dropped from the program. Their loan default rate is 5.1%, which is noticeably higher than any other program on this list.

Methodology

We started by coming up with a list of 50 well-known and well-regarded schools, based on lists and rankings from other online reviewers, and other general and publicly available data about colleges. From there, we found schools in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database and filtered out any school not eligible for federal financial aid. Then we gave each school a score for the following parameters: tuition, graduation rate, and loan default rate (LDR is our way of measuring return on investment, assuming if graduates are defaulting on their student loans they probably could not get a job shortly after graduation). Lastly, we weighted these scores for tuition, graduation rate, and LDR to calculate our final score.

FAQ

How long does it take to complete a veterinarian technician degree?

If you’re hoping to become a veterinary technician and work alongside a veterinarian someday, then you’ll probably enroll in an associate’s degree program. Most Associates in Veterinary Technology degrees require four semesters of study, as well as a designated number of hours of externships and hands-on clinical experience. If you are working full-time while earning your degree, you may need to take fewer classes per semester. Otherwise, students should be able to earn a degree in two years. Furthermore, if you’re a returning student, you may be able to complete the degree requirements in fewer than two years. Nevertheless, within two to four years, you should have the academic knowledge and in-person experience to be a successful veterinary technician.

What careers does this degree prepare you for?

The associate’s degree in veterinary technology can help prepare you to play a range of roles within the veterinary field. Most obviously, you can work as a veterinary technician, where you will assist the veterinarian and veterinary nurses with providing care for injured animals, administering medications, taking x-rays, performing lab tests, preparing animals for surgical procedures, and more.

This degree can also be a springboard toward additional degrees and certifications, including veterinary nurse programs and veterinary surgical assistant certifications. If you find that you have a lifelong passion for the field, this initial associate’s degree could even propel you to become a veterinarian.

No matter which role you choose to play, an associate’s degree in veterinary technology will help you make a difference day in and day out.

What are the average salaries for these careers?

When it comes to salaries for those working in the veterinary field, there is much to be desired. According to the Bureau and Labor and Statistics, in 2018, veterinary technicians earned a median salary of $34,420. To compare, the average median salary across all jobs in the United States during the same time period was $38,640. Hourly wages averaged $16.55 per hour, and there were 109,400 vet tech jobs.

On the upper extreme of this career field is the veterinarian, who must hold a doctoral or professional degree. In 2018, Veterinarians in the United States had a median salary of $93,830 per year.

On the lower end of the veterinary spectrum fall the veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers, who earned a median salary of $27,540 in 2018. For this role, only a high school diploma and on-the-job training is required.

About the Authors

Courtney Martin

Courtney Martin Contributing Writer

Courtney Martin is a freelance writer whose work covers a range of industries, including finance, technology, and travel. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in Teaching Social Studies from Coastal Carolina University. Her work has been published in both digital and print media, from start-ups to globally-recognized brands.