Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) is celebrating its newest program for National Veterinary Technician Week. CATEC’s Veterinary Science program is a natural educational step for students interested in becoming veterinary technicians. CATEC’s Veterinary Science class introduces students to the technical knowledge and skills necessary for success in careers pertaining to animals, including pet care industries, government agencies, laboratory research institutions, pharmaceutical occupations, veterinary medical assisting and technology, and post-secondary education. Students learn about veterinary science in a classroom setting, simulated small animal veterinary hospital, and field trips. In previous years, students took a field trip to the Richmond Zoo so they could study the ethics of zoos and their wildlife programs. The class also visited Open Gate Farm to interact with chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats, and rabbits and students studied the farm’s heritage pork operation. Animals make guest appearances in the classroom, including dogs, goats, and even a pigeon.
Veterinary Science students receive 12 college credits through Blue Ridge Community College. Credits include coursework in veterinary assisting, care and maintenance of small domestic animals, veterinary office assisting, and companion animal behavior. Students who satisfactorily complete the program also receive the Blue Ridge Community College Career Studies Certificate in Veterinary Assisting concurrent with high school graduation. CATEC also supports students as they take the Certified Veterinary Assistant test through American Allied Health. For the 2018-2019 school year, CATEC had a 93% pass rate.
Upon graduation from the program, students can enter the industry as a Veterinary Assistant, helping vets by setting up equipment, preparing animals for treatment, and keeping records. They can work their way up to Veterinary Technician. Projected job growth in Virginia for Veterinary Assistants is nearly 20% and Virginia wages align with the national wage average. Program graduates continue to post-secondary learning opportunities or are working in area veterinary clinics and as Laboratory Animal Care Technicians for The McConnell Group, a company that supports media research for human and veterinary health and contracts with a UVA research lab.
CATEC is a regional technical education center that helps high school students and adults obtain the jobs they seek. Students have opportunities to practice hands-on and work-based learning activities alongside academically-driven curricula. CATEC prides itself on its built-in value, equity-based programs, and contribution to students' learning journeys.