Can I Be a Vet Tech Without a Degree?

You may be wondering if you can pursue a career in veterinary technology without first obtaining a degree. The answer is yes! Although most veterinary technicians do have a degree, there are a number of ways to enter the field without one.

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The Different Types of Vet Techs

There are different types of vet techs, and each has their own set of responsibilities. There are generalists, who are responsible for a variety of tasks, and specialists, who focus on a specific area. Regardless of what type of vet tech you are, you will need to have a strong understanding of animal anatomy and physiology.

Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT)

LVTs are Licensed Veterinary Technicians. They have completed an accredited Veterinary Technician program and have passed a national Veterinary Technician Exam. LVTs work under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian and perform medical and nursing care for animals.

In order to become an LVT, you must first complete an accredited Veterinary Technician program. These programs typically take two to four years to complete, and they are offered at many community colleges and technical schools across the country. Once you have completed your coursework, you must then pass a national Veterinary Technician Exam in order to become licensed in your state.

Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT)

As the need for qualified veterinary technicians increases, so do the educational requirements. In order to become a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT), one must complete an accredited veterinary technology program and pass a state or provincial examination. While some states allow technicians to work without being registered, most employers prefer, and in some cases require, certification.

Once you have completed a vet tech program and become registered, there are still different types of vet techs that you can become. Depending on your interests and strengths, you may find yourself drawn to one area of veterinary technology over another. The different types of certified veterinary technicians include:

-Anesthesia technicians: These technicians work closely with the veterinarian to provide anesthesia for animals undergoing surgery.
-Clinical pathologists: These technicians work in diagnostic laboratories and are responsible for running tests on animal tissue and bodily fluids.
-Dental technicians: Dental techs work alongside the veterinarian to provide dental care for animals.
-Emergency and critical care technicians: These techs care for animals that have been injured or are suffering from a life-threatening illness.
-Nutritionists: Veterinary nutritionists develop diets for animals that are tailored to their individual needs.
-Practice managers: Practice managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a veterinary practice.
-Radiology technicians: Radiology techs operate x-ray machines and other imaging equipment to help veterinarians diagnose problems in animals.
-Receptionists: Veterinary receptionists are the first point of contact for clients in a veterinary practice. They schedule appointments, answer phone calls, and handle other administrative tasks.

While this is not an exhaustive list of all the different types of vet techs, it should give you an idea of the many different career paths that are available to you as a veterinary technician.

Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT)

A certified veterinary technician (CVT) is a professional who has completed a two- to four-year accredited veterinary technology program and has passed a national examination administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Certified veterinary technicians work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian in clinics, zoos, research laboratories, animal shelters, and other animal care facilities.

The duties of a CVT include but are not limited to:
-Anesthesia induction and maintenance
-Monitoring vital signs
-Laboratory work
-Surgical preparation
-Client education

The Different Types of Vet Tech Programs

There are many ways to become a vet tech, but the most common is through a vet tech program. These programs can be found at community colleges, technical schools, and even some universities. There are many different types of programs, but most will lead to an Associate’s degree or a certificate.

Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology

An Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology is the most common type of degree for vet techs. This two-year degree can be completed at a community college or technical school. Many employers prefer to hire vet techs with an Associate’s Degree, although some will hire those with a Bachelor’s Degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology

A bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology is a common way to become a vet tech. These programs typically take four years to complete and include both classroom and clinical work. Many programs are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). After completing a bachelor’s degree program, vet techs must pass a national exam to become certified and licensed.

Certificate in Veterinary Technology

A certificate in veterinary technology is the quickest way to becoming a vet tech. These programs typically last around 12 months and can be completed entirely online. Coursework covers topics like animal anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. You will also get clinical experience working with animals in a veterinary setting.

Upon completion of the program, you will need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to become certified. Once you are certified, you will be able to find entry-level jobs as a vet tech in clinics, hospitals, and other animal care facilities.

What You Can Do With a Vet Tech Degree

Earning your vet tech degree can open up a variety of career opportunities. Vet techs play an important role in animal healthcare, and are often the first point of contact between animal owners and the veterinary team. They may work in private practices, shelters, or zoos. If you’re thinking about becoming a vet tech, you’re probably wondering what you can do with a degree in vet tech. Keep reading to learn about some of the most popular career options for vet techs.

Work in a Veterinary Clinic

Vet techs can work in a variety of settings, but most are employed in private veterinary clinics, where they support veterinarians by providing animal care and nursing. As a vet tech, you might perform tasks such as taking x-rays, drawing blood, administering medications, caring for hospitalized animals, and more.

Work in a Veterinary Hospital

One of the most common places for vet techs to work is in a veterinary hospital. These facilities offer general medical and surgical care for companion animals, including dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Vet techs working in hospitals may perform a variety of tasks, such as taking x-rays, drawing blood, administering injections and medications, preparing animals and instruments for surgery, collecting lab samples, cleaning wounds, and providing nursing care.

Work in a Research Facility

There are many opportunities for vet techs to work in research facilities. The type of facility will dictate the type of research being conducted. For example, a pharmaceutical company may be interested in testing new medications, while a university may be conducting studies on animal behavior or disease. As a vet tech, you may be responsible for caring for the animals involved in the research, collecting data, or both. Some vet techs also work as research technicians, assisting scientists in designing and conducting experiments.

The Pros and Cons of Being a Vet Tech

Being a vet tech is a rewarding career choice. You get to work with animals and help them to heal. However, you may be wondering if you can be a vet tech without a degree. The answer is yes, you can be a vet tech without a degree. However, there are some pros and cons to consider before making your decision.


There are many good things that come with the job of being a vet tech. For starters, it’s a career that helps people and animals, which can be very rewarding. It’s also a stable profession with a good job outlook—the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of vet techs will grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. And although you need some formal education to become a vet tech, you don’t need a four-year degree—a two-year associate’s degree from a vet tech program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is sufficient. Finally, becoming a certified vet tech has its perks: AVMA-certified vet techs enjoy higher salaries and greater job security than those who are not certified.


There are some definite cons to being a vet tech, the most obvious one being the pay. The median annual salary for a vet tech in the United States is $32,350, which is significantly lower than that of a veterinarian, who brings in a median salary of $88,490 per year. And while there is room for advancement and increased earnings potential for vet techs, it will likely never match that of a veterinarian.

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