Veterinary Technology


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What is the difference between a Veterinarian, Veterinary Technologist, Veterinary Technician, and Veterinary Assistant?

Persons with varying degrees of educational experience staff the Veterinary Hospital. Tasks performed in the hospital to provide animal care should be assigned to persons with appropriate education/training to ensure a positive outcome for the patient. There may be times when an employee may be asked to work at a level below their expertise, but in keeping with the philosophy of quality animal care, the opposite should not take place.

The Veterinarian is solely responsible for diagnosing, developing a prognosis, prescribing medication and performing surgery. They are ultimately responsible for all patient care and outcomes. Most Veterinarians apply for veterinary medical school admission while obtaining a bachelor degree in a compatible field. If accepted into a veterinary medical school the course of study usually takes another four years, making that a grand total of eight years of schooling. Every state requires a veterinarian to take and pass a licensing exam. Successful candidates are given a license to practice veterinary medicine.

The Veterinary Technician/Technologist is educated to be the veterinarian’s nurse, laboratory technician, radiography technician, anesthetist, surgical nurse and client educator. Many veterinary technicians/technologists are placed in a supervisory role in veterinary practices, research institutions and in other areas of employment. A Veterinary Technician is a graduate from a two year, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program from a community college, college or university. A Veterinary Technologist has graduated from a four year AVMA accredited bachelor degree program. Almost every state requires a veterinary technician/technologist to take and pass a credentialing exam. Passing this exam ensures the public that the veterinary technician has entry level knowledge of the duties they are asked to perform in the veterinary clinic or hospital. Click on the Credentialing button for further information about becoming credentialed.

A Veterinary Technician/Technologist Specialist has met the same requirements as above plus spends about 75% of their time doing a specific task and has passed a specialist certification exam administered by a Specialist Academy. Currently there are three academies offering specialty certification. To learn more about specialty certification go to the NAVTA web site and click on Career Building.

The Veterinary Assistant may have training through a high school, a college certificate program, or through a distance learning program over the Internet. Most however are trained on the job by the veterinarian or the veterinary technician. Their role is to assist the veterinarian or the veterinary technician in their daily tasks as well as in some basic set-up of equipment and cleaning of key areas in the clinic like the surgery suite. Some may be asked to do kennel cleaning and janitorial work as well. There is no credentialing exam for the veterinary assistant.

For me information on the difference between vets and techs check out the AVMA site through the links below.

Technician brochure:

Veterinarian brochure:

How long has the Veterinary Technology Program been at NDSU?

The program began operation at NDSU in 1976.

Is the Veterinary Technology Program accredited?

Yes. The program has enjoyed continuous full accreditation status from the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) since 1979.

What are tuition and fees for the Veterinary Technology Program?

Veterinary technology students pay normal NDSU tuition and fees. You can find current tuition and fee information on the NDSU website at

Do credits from other schools transfer into the veterinary technology curriculum?

Information about transferring courses to NDSU from other schools is available on the NDSU website at

What are the admission requirements for the Veterinary Technology Program?

NDSU admission requirements are on the web at The 1st year of the
veterinary technology program is called the pre-professional year and is open-enrollment. Any student who meets NDSU admission requirements can be part of this pre-professional year. The professional part of the program starts in the 2nd year and is limited-enrollment.

When I come to NDSU would I have to live on campus?

You can find information about NDSU's on-campus living requirement for 1st year students at

What degree would I earn after successfully completing the NDSU Veterinary Technology Program, and how long will it take to earn it?

Successful completion of the veterinary technology program leads to the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. The program can be completed in as little as 8 semesters (4 academic years) followed by a 1/2 semester externship. For a variety of reasons, some students take lighter than average loads of classes each semester. This can add to the total length of time necessary to earn the degree.

What courses are required in the veterinary technology program?

You can print out the overall vet tech program curriculum from this web page:

What are the advantages of a BS degree in veterinary technology over a 2-year degree?

Based on what our graduates tell us, there are 2 main advantages to a BS degree in veterinary technology - (1) a full university general education and (2) more time to practice and gain confidence in skills. All veterinary technology programs must cover the same basic informationin order to be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. In a 2-year program this doesn't leave much time for general education courses or time to practice the many skills that are being learned. NDSU vet tech students practice the skills they are learning each semester in their Clinic (full name Clinical Veterinary Practicum) course. In Clinic students work on animals that belong to the vet tech program, vet tech staff & students, animal rescue organizations, and the Red River Zoo. By the time they get to their externships, NDSU vet tech students are generally confident in their knowledge and proficient in their skills.

What is the difference between the Vet Tech major and the Pre-vet major? Should I do both?

Vet Tech (Veterinary Technology) is a standalone BS degree program that prepares graduates for careers in animal health-related fields. The closest analogy to veterinary technicians in the human medical field is nurses, although veterinary technicians have many skills and perform many tasks (such as radiography, clinical laboratory analyses, and anesthesiology) that go beyond typical nursing duties. Veterinary technicians working together with veterinarians form the animal health care team.

Pre-Vet (Pre-Veterinary Medicine) prepares students to apply for admission to veterinary schools to become veterinarians. Veterinarians are like animal physicians. They are responsible for diagnosing diseases and conditions, prescribing appropriate drugs and other treatments, and performing surgery on animls.

Students can major in both Veterinary Technology and Pre-Veterinary Medicine at the same time, but one or the other field is typically most appropriate for an individual. A good way to determine which career path is best is to spend time observing in a veterinary clinic.

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