Program Spotlight: Veterinary Technician A.A.S

International Day of Veterinary Medicine Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Veterinary Technician program at Dakota County Technical College delivers an academically rigorous curriculum. To achieve success in your coursework, you should be highly motivated with a better than average ability to master a significant load of scientific and medical material in a relatively short period of time.

Experience with animals and an understanding of the veterinary medicine field is ideal if you are applying to the program. As an applicant, you are strongly encouraged to spend at least one week in a veterinary clinic, working with or shadowing a veterinary technician.

More about the role of a vet tech…

As a key component of the animal healthcare team, veterinary technicians perform medical tests under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to assist in diagnosing animal injuries and illnesses. Vet techs carry out vital tasks, including:

  • Evaluating an animal’s condition
  • Collecting and analyzing biological samples
  • Educating clients on nutrition and behavior
  • Administering and monitoring anesthesia

The Veterinary Technician program prepares you for a career caring for animals in veterinary clinics, animal research facilities or wildlife rescue centers. The program provides opportunities for hands-on learning required for work in pharmacology, surgical preparation and animal care. This practical, interactive approach gives you the skills, knowledge and expertise you need to launch your career in the veterinary field.

As a certified veterinary technician, you will have passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) given by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB).

Accreditation Notice

The Veterinary Technician program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).


A.A.S. Degree

DCTC offers a 60-credit Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Veterinary Technician.


Nicole Nieman, CVT: Director perspective…

Nicole Nieman

Nicole Nieman serves as director of the Veterinary Technician program at DCTC. Nicole grew up in Stacy, Minnesota, and graduated from North Branch High School.

She earned a B.S. in Computer Animation from the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2004 and went on to earn an A.A.S. in Veterinary Technology from Argosy University. Nicole became a certified veterinary technician (CVT) in 2006.

Nicole’s industry and teaching experience are extensive. She worked her way through school as a pet care specialist at PetSmart and later became the practice manager and lead veterinary technician at Banfield Pet Hospital in St. Paul. She taught in the Veterinary Technology program at Argosy from 2007 to 2010; she also worked as a lead data analyst at Midwest Veterinary Supply.


“Veterinary Technicians are known for their ability to ‘MacGyver’ any situation—like making an anesthesia machine out of duct tape and nails before the next commercial break. The year 2020 has taught us that these skills make great things happen.

“Along with our inability to walk away from a problem without solving it, vet techs prove that adapting to change is at the core of everything that we do. As instructors, we work to teach these valuable lessons to our students. Some may say that 2020 won: We say that it was our students who won this fight.”

Nicole Nieman, CVT
Veterinary Technician Program Director and Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Vet Tech Instructor Meri DuRand patients gallery

History of International Day of Veterinary Medicine¹

The International Day of Veterinary Medicine lauds those companies and organizations like the American Veterinary Medicine Association that work every year not just to promote the development of veterinary medicine, but to ensure that information is made available to pet owners like you that will enable you to make the best choices for them.

Whether that’s a notice about the contents of a new dog food (that sometimes leads to them getting recalled, like Cesar Classics Filet Mignon Flavor Wet Food in October of 2016) or a new medicine that you may want to ask your veterinarian about for rovers, these organizations are on the cutting edge of Veterinary Medicine.

International Day of Veterinary Medicine also celebrates those intrepid souls who work hard to keep our animals safe, and are constantly going through ongoing education to stay at the very front of the medicine that will keep our pets alive and healthy for years to come. A special shout-out goes to those who practice exotic animal medicine, learning about critters that are rarely kept as pets.


Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE)

Employment in this field typically requires successful completion of the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) licensing exam, which is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). As you progress through the Veterinary Technician program, you must achieve at least a “C” grade in all courses.

HESI Assessment Exam Information

Alexis Odegaard

The Veterinary Technician program requires students to take the HESI Assessment Exam.

Please contact Karianne Loula, testing coordinator and advisor, 651-423-8583, if you have questions about the exam, including info regarding:

  • Test dates
  • Times
  • Locations
  • Preparation materials
  • Instructions on how to create an account and pay for the HESI Assessment Exam
Once you have paid your exam fee, please follow up with Karianne to indicate your exam date:

Karianne Loula
Testing Coordinator & Advisor

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Perform medical tests under the supervision of a veterinarian.


Median: $18.22/hour
High: $21.46/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $18.83/hour
High: $22.30/hour


In Minnesota, there are 3,000 workers employed in this small career. This career is currently in high demand and seeing very high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate in Minnesota is 19 percent and well above the statewide average.

There will be a need for about 3,013 new Veterinary Technologists and Technicians to meet market demand between 2018–2028. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Where do Veterinary Technologists and Technicians most often work?
Minnesota State CAREERwise Education
Learn more about the Veterinary Technician program at DCTC by contacting:

Nicole Nieman, CVT
Vet Tech Program Director & Faculty

Jonathan O’Hara
Academic and Financial Aid Advisor

¹ SOURCE: Days of the Year