If you search for information about veterinary technician schools, you’ll immediately notice that many potential applicants are interested in attending a vet tech school online. This makes sense considering that enrollment in online courses continues to grow, with many students completing some—or even all—of their classes without stepping foot in a traditional classroom.
Does an online school, though, make sense for becoming a vet tech? Here’s what you should keep in mind.
The VTNE Pass Rate Should be a Litmus Test
Not all vet tech programs are made equal. Passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination, or VTNE, is required in many states for becoming an official licensed veterinary technician.
While the mean three-year pass rate is 70% for first-time test takers, some schools have pass-rates in the 30s and 40s (here is a handy list of programs that have low pass rates). This means that it is possible to enroll in a program in which less than half of its graduates pass this important exam.
The VTNE tests on multiple areas of knowledge, including anesthesia, laboratory procedures, and diagnostic imaging. Students who do not have as much in-person experience to match their textbook learning can be at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding the fundamentals the exam will test on.
Online Courses Can be a Good Choice for Non-traditional Students
The greatest benefit of online schooling is its flexibility. Many students today may have full-time jobs, family obligations, or limited transportation that could impact their ability to attend a traditional school program.
It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that even online vet tech schools will typically require an in-person experience—and some schools, but not all, will assist in placement assistance with local vet hospitals, animal sanctuaries, etc.
“Traditional AVMA-accredited programs, such as the one at Manor College, has incorporated all of the AVMA-required hands-on training into its on-campus program. Students are not having to seek out large-animal practitioners themselves, for example, to complete all of the AVMA-required skills,” explains Dr. Joanna Bassert, Director of Manor College’s Program of Veterinary Technology.
Attending School In-Person Prepares Students for the Rigors of a Real Vet Hospital
You may know you like animals, but are you ready to deal with caws, claws and cleanings? A hands-on vet tech program familiarizes students not only with what they need to do, but also the fast paced, noisy, and sometimes messy world of veterinary care.
Schools Offer More Than Just an Education
For students who plan on staying in the local area, attending a traditional program has networking advantages. Local veterinary businesses are familiar with the schools and their graduates, which may not be the case when it comes to an online education.
“Our students often make life-long friendships among their classmates, who later become their colleagues and coworkers. Graduates of Manor College often look out for one another,” says Dr. Bassert.
What Matters to Future Employers? Experience
Being a competitive applicant upon graduation should always be taken into account while selecting a college. Dr. Bassert explains that a key skill hiring managers will be looking for, is experience with animal restraint and handling:
“One of the most important jobs that veterinary technicians do is protect themselves and others by being excellent in the restraint and handling of animal patients.” Students who can highlight plenty of practical hands-on experience will be better off when it comes time to submit resumes.
Hiring managers are also interested in hiring vet techs who understand how to use the latest technology and diagnostic equipment—an experience advantage vet tech students who attend a traditional program will have over online-taught applicants.
“The combination of classroom and clinical work on campus, combined with a structured externship program, provides an optimal education in veterinary technology,” notes Bassert.
Is This the Right Choice for You?
Can you got to school online to become a vet tech? The answer is yes, but whether this is the right choice for interested students will depend on several factors, such as their ability to gain in-person experiences some other way, like through a robust externship program, as well as whether they plan to search for employment locally upon graduation. We recommend checking out a wide range of possible programs to get a true sense of value!
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