The demand for veterinary technicians is growing
at a faster-than-average rate, according to the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Becoming a vet tech is a
good career choice for many; it pays a good salary,
and there are a variety of employment options,
from working in a clinic or on a farm to working
in pharmaceuticals or research.
Vet techs are integral members of the veterinary health care team, according to the American
Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). With innovative vet tech programs, community and technical
colleges are ensuring that students are well educated in the care and handling of animals, the basic
principles of normal and abnormal life processes
and in many laboratory and clinical procedures.
In Nebraska, demand is high both from the industry
for skilled vet techs and from students eager to train.
Northeast Community College admitted 24 students
into its program last year—the maximum the college
was able to admit.
“We have students from a variety of backgrounds:
high school graduates and nontraditional students
looking for a career change,” says Dr. Michael Cooper,
director of the veterinary technician program.
Northeast’s program has small class sizes and
plenty of hands-on practice. There’s an actual
working farm, so students can work with cattle,
swine and sheep. The college also works with two
area animal shelters for small-animal practice.
“Students don’t have to travel great distances to
get hands-on experience,” Cooper says.
But students do have to be committed to a
demanding program. Vet tech programs run like
many health sciences programs: students must
learn medical terminology, anatomy and physiology.
There also are laboratory sessions and surgery
rotations. There’s typically 30 to 40 hours of studying each week outside of class. Near the end of the
program, students take part in internships, working in a clinic for eight weeks.
“It’s a jam-packed program,” says Cooper. “We
demand excellence, and a majority of students buy
into that and excel.”
In fact, because the selection process to get
admitted into the program is so stringent, the
attrition rate is low, only about 2 percent, according
CLEARING THE SHELTERS
Northeast’s vet tech program benefits students as
well as animals and their humans. Animals at the
shelters that partner with the college get complete
Caring for all
by Tabitha Whissemore
At Athens Technical
College, students learn
to care for animals of