Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology

Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree

About the associate degree in veterinary technology

Turn your passion for animal care into a “vet tech” career.

Veterinary technology is one of the fastest-growing occupations in Pennsylvania and across the United States. With an associate degree in veterinary technology from California University of Pennsylvania, you’ll be ready to enter this exciting field as a veterinary technician, or “vet tech.”

In this new program, students work with live animals on campus as they master practical skills in animal care. Coursework in the vet tech program consists of classroom theory, hands-on training and 240 hours of clinical experience. Classes begin in fall 2019.

The associate degree program prepares you to seek an entry-level position as a veterinary technician in just two years of full-time study. Your credits also can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology or one of Cal U’s biology programs, including the pre-professional program that can lead to veterinary school.

Help pets and other animals live happy, healthy lives.

Veterinary technicians work with companion and service animals, working animals, livestock, wildlife, exotic animals and more. The associate degree in veterinary technology teaches the knowledge and skills you need to become part of a veterinary care team. It also can be a steppingstone to any field related to animals and their care.

You’ll study laws pertaining to animal care and learn about animal anatomy, behavior and diseases, along with best practices for animal handling, practice management and recordkeeping. The program also covers topics such as:

  • Surgery.
  • Dentistry.
  • Radiology.
  • Pharmaceuticals.
  • Anesthesia and pain management.

Campus facilities include state-of-the-art housing for dogs, cats, rats and rabbits. Students apply their learning in animal exam areas, a clinical laboratory equipped with diagnostic and imaging equipment, and a surgical nursing suite.


Hands-on Learning: Students in this 60-credit associate degree program put their learning into practice every day. Eight out of nine vet tech courses have either a lab or a clinical component, and students complete 240 hours of clinical experience prior to graduation. Students have animal care rotations in both their first and second years.

On-campus classes: Learn with classmates who share your passion for animals and faculty who are experts in their fields. Small classes let you get to know your fellow vet tech students and your professors, including program director Dr. Nancy Pugh, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. All Cal U courses are taught by faculty, not by graduate students or teaching assistants.

High standards: Cal U’s veterinary technology program is actively seeking accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, and its initial application has been accepted. (Please note that an application for accreditation does not guarantee accreditation or grant any temporary accreditation status.) Students who successfully complete a program accredited by the AVMA-CVTEA are eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam.

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Credits required to complete the associate degree in veterinary technology.
Projected growth in employment for veterinary technicians and technologists by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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Degree Benefits


Students in Cal U’s vet tech degree program work directly with animals, in addition to their classroom activities. You’ll put your learning into practice during lab sessions, clinical experiences and animal care rotations in the University’s new, state-of-the-art facilities. An associate degree prepares you to enter this fast-growing field in just two years, or to continue your studies for a bachelor’s degree.

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Graduate Outcomes


Increases in pet ownership, a growing demand for service and working animals, and expansion of veterinary specialties are fueling the need for skilled technicians to work in veterinary clinics and hospitals, large-animal practices, wildlife rehabilitation centers, boarding kennels, government and industry labs, humane societies and more. Forty-one states, including Pennsylvania, reported a shortage of veterinary services last year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 20% growth in employment opportunities nationwide for veterinary technicians.


Veterinary Technology Associate Degree
A Vet Tech holds a cat.

What does a vet tech do?

Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs who work in a private veterinary practice or local animal hospital – the most common job setting – may obtain and record case histories, collect specimens and perform lab procedures, provide specialized nursing care, prepare animals and equipment for surgery, assist with diagnostic or medical procedures, take X-rays or ultrasounds, provide preventive dental care for animals, and help to educate pet owners.

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Vet Tech at a farm.

Are There other vet tech jobs?

The demand for veterinary technicians is growing as veterinary specialties expand. In addition to clinical settings, vet tech jobs can be found in:

  • Animal control and humane society animal care.
  • Diagnostic laboratory support and biomedical research.
  • Drug and feed company technical service and sales.
  • Food safety inspection.
  • Livestock health management.
  • Military service.
  • Veterinary supply sales.
  • Zoo animal and wildlife care.
Vet Technitian in hallway at Cal U.

How do i get started?

Future vet tech students must meet Cal U admissions standards. Candidates are most likely to be successful if they have completed high school biology, chemistry and algebra courses with a grade of C- or higher. Once a candidate is accepted into the program, a tetanus immunization is required and immunization for rabies is highly recommended. Vet tech students are required to wear scrubs for laboratory work and animal care rotations.

A Cal U student with a dog on campus.

Why choose cal u?

Because its Associate of Science degree is a strong first step toward the future you want to build! In just two years of full-time study, Cal U positions you for employment as a veterinary technician. When you’re ready for the next challenge, you can transfer your credits to the bachelor’s degree program in veterinary technology or one of Cal U’s biology majors – including the pre-professional program that can lead to veterinary school.


A.S. in Veterinary Technology Courses


Course Credits
First Semester 14
BIO 230  Anatomy and Physiology I 4
ENG 101  English Composition I 3
MAT 181  College Algebra 3
VET 101  Introduction to Veterinary Technology 3
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar 1
Second Semester 15
BIO 260  Anatomy and Physiology II 4
BIO 226  Basic Microbiology 4
CHE 101  General Chemistry 4
VET 160  Care and Management of Exotic and Laboratory Animals 3
Third Semester 15
VET 202  Small Animal Management and Clinical Procedures 4
VET 210  Veterinary Clinical Technology and Laboratory Procedures 4
VET 220  Large Animal Management and Clinical Procedures 4
VET 240  Veterinary Pharmacy and Pharmacology 3
Fourth Semester 16
VET 230  Digital Diagnostic Imaging 3
VET 250  Surgical Nursing, Anesthesia and Pain Management 4
VET 292  Clinical Experience 3
General Education 6
Total 60

Program Goals and Objectives

Program Goals


The program maintains the highest level of academic integrity and provides students with specialized knowledge and skills required to become licensed veterinary technicians. The program goals (PG) are specified to meet the needs of the program’s constituencies (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, employers, advisory board, alumni, students and faculty).

  • PG1:To provide students with both the skills and theoretical knowledge to become successful veterinary technicians.
  • PG2:To educate students on the attributes necessary to become an integral member of the veterinary healthcare team.
  • PG3:To enhance the analytical, critical thinking, and decision-making skills of each individual student.
  • PG4: To provide a science-based, animal-focused curriculum that enhances the professions' stewardship of animals.
Student Learning Outcomes

The student learning outcomes (SO) for the A.S. degree in Veterinary Technology are aligned with and support the program goals. Students completing the A.S. in Veterinary Technology will have an ability to:

  • SO1: Be successful on the Veterinary Technician National Exam.
  • SO2: Perform routine diagnostic and clinical procedures on common species.
  • SO3:Identify, utilize, and maintain conventional veterinary instruments and equipment.
  • SO4:Communicate effectively with clients and other veterinary professionals.
  • SO5:Demonstrate an understanding of the laws, ethics, and organizations of the veterinary profession.
  • SO6:Relate clinical signs and diagnostic findings to animal health and wellness.
  • SO7:Work cooperatively to achieve optimum and compassionate patient care.