Do you need a degree to be a vet tech? This guide will walk you through becoming a vet tech without college.
After that, we’ll highlight alternate career paths for practitioners needing formal education. Before we round up, we’ll highlight some essentials to becoming a vet tech.
Can I be a vet tech without a degree? Here is all you need to know.
Do You Need a Degree to Be a Vet Tech?
Vet tech is a rewarding career in healthcare with many responsibilities. Anyone taking this career path will assist certified veterinarians in caring for sick or injured animals.
Some roles you’ll play include conducting lab tests, assisting with surgeries, taking X-rays, and more.
One needs a blend of education, tech skills, and expertise in handling animals to succeed in this profession. In most states, you must hold an associate degree, license, or equivalent credentials to enter this medical sector.
But is it possible to be a vet tech without a university degree? Well, the answer depends on which state you reside in. While some states permit you to work as a vet tech without a formal degree, others will not.
So, it’s crucial to check without knowing your state to know whether or not you’ll need a college degree.
Steps to Become a Vet Tech Without College
If you want to become a practitioner in this field without formal education, follow the steps outlined below.
Acquire a High School Diploma or GED
Generally, this credential is the minimum qualification for becoming a vet tech. Such studies will allow you to build a solid foundation and skills to succeed in the industry.
You’ll cover subjects such as math, biology, chemistry, and other science-related courses. Vet tech classes will teach you the fundamentals of animal care.
Get a Vet Assistant Certificate
Since you don’t want to attend college, you can enroll in a vet tech certificate program. Such training can be completed in as little as nine months.
You’ll be taught animal handling, animal nursing fundamentals, and lab procedures. Other things to learn are urinary and blood counts, developing X-rays, and preparing animals and equipment for surgery.
Furthermore, states that permit vet techs to work without a formal degree also allow on-the-job training. You’ll learn under the direction and supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
However, the option is becoming less common in states requiring certification or a license.
Lacking college training can also limit your career advancement, prospects, and ability to move between states. So it would be best to consider this before making the final choice.
Acquire Hands-On Experience
Work experience is vital when joining the vet industry. Most employers prioritize candidates with extensive experience to handle specific tasks.
So, after finishing your certificate program or on-the-job training, you can seek hands-on experience. This could be in a vet clinic, animal hospital, shelter, or other animal-related facility.
You’ll learn and develop the practical skills needed to thrive in your career. A few things to know are performing lab tests, taking vital signs, administering medication, and assisting with surgeries.
You can also develop your understanding of animal behavior and handling.
Obtain Certification or License
Most states require vet techs to hold an attestation of competence or a state-issued license to work unrestricted. Before acquiring such credentials, you must write and pass the VTNE organized by AAVSB.
The exams are to measure your entry-level competency in different areas. These include surgical procedures, animal care and nursing, pharmacology, and lab procedures.
Furthermore, the exams comprise 170 multiple-choice questions. You can take the exams online or in person after additional training.
Get a Job
You can apply for jobs once you receive a state-issued license or become certified. Several facilities, including vet labs and clinics, will be willing to employ you.
If this doesn’t suffice, you can venture into private practice or serve under a certified veterinarian who’s in private practice. But while hunting for a job, ensure you review the set requirements.
Alternate Career Paths for Vet Techs
If you don’t want to go to college, there are other career options to explore in vet technology.
However, these paths are more specialized than some typical specialties. But you’ll find these careers engaging and exciting if you’re an animal lover.
Let’s consider them below.
Marine Animal Vet Tech
Anyone specializing in this field will focus on marine and aquatic life. The career path requires specific training beyond the regular vet tech program.
So, most candidates prioritize undergraduate degrees over certificate courses.
Animal Behavior Vet Tech
This is another fantastic alternate path for vet techs who don’t fancy going to college. You’ll be specializing in promoting healthy animal behavior.
This is to strengthen the bond between animal companions and human counterparts. The discipline is instrumental in shelters, as the animals will be scared and demand lasting homes.
Animal Nutritionist Technician
If you’re interested in animal science, consider taking a professional path as an alternative. You’ll receive training on how to assist with managing animal nutrition.
Other things to learn are calculating macros and developing poor diet and exercise regimens.
Highest Paying Careers for Vet Techs
While planning to become a practitioner in this field, you must learn about the most rewarding specialties.
This will help. If you decide on a profession that will meet your financial demands, In this section, we’ll list some top-paying specialties in vet tech.
Surgical Vet Tech
Those who take this career path will work alongside veterinary surgeons in the operating room.
You’ll provide animal care before and after surgery, maintain the operating room, handle equipment during procedures, and more.
To become an expert in this field, you’ll typically need a deep understanding of surgical procedures and wound care. The average income of a surgical vet tech is around $46,813 annually.
Equine Dental Technician
This is another top-paying position in vet tech. Practitioners in this field focus on equine dental care and oral health. The goal is to keep the horse’s teeth aligned and comfortable.
The median wage of these experts is around $50,000 a year.
Veterinary Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
This occupational path will be ideal for those with marketing skills. You will advertise medications and other health-related products to licensed veterinarians and clinics.
You’ll also identify and follow up on sales leads. To excel in this position, you’ll need substantial knowledge in all areas of pharmaceutical products.
The median pay of these practitioners is around $79,000 annually.
If you want to avoid attending college, you can quickly become a practitioner in this field. Most vet tech certificate programs last a few months to a year or two.
After that, you’ll only need a few months to get certified or licensed. While true, the exact length of time will depend on your state’s requirements and specialty.
Other factors include your entry-level level of commitment and hard work.
It’s possible to become a vet tech without going to college. As you can see above, all you require is a vet tech certificate, which can be completed in a few months.
However, some states only allow such experts to work with advanced education, such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. If you belong to such states, you can choose alternate careers, as highlighted above.