Steps to Become a Veterinary Technician in Mississippi

The career of veterinary technician is one of the more promising in the country. If you wantmississippi a career working with animals, and don’t mind working with people, this career choice has several advantages. An Associate’s degree in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology can be attained in two to three years at a modest cost, requires no previous college education, and the job prospects are encouraging. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2013 report predicts that the demand for veterinary technicians and technologists will increase 30% per year through 2022.

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Because Mississippi has one school that provides an Associate’s degree for veterinary technicians, and one that provides a B.S. degree for veterinary technologists, the distinction between the two must be made. A veterinary technologist attends school four to five years, at a higher tuition rate, and earns a B.S. degree. A veterinary technician (vet tech) attends school two to three years for much less tuition and is graduated with an Associate’s degree. Of course, the pay for technologists is higher, as are the career possibilities. The career path for a vet tech is described here.

Both schools are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). The importance of attending an accredited school will be described below. To find a Mississippi school with an accredited program, click here.

What Does a Vet-Tech Do?

A vet tech’s job places many demands you during your education and working career. The education prepares you to be skilled in communications, computer skills, and the care and treatment of a wide variety of animals, from mice to farm animals. Depending on the job, you may be required to have certain physical capabilities (such as lifting 40 pounds easily).

Most vet techs work in large or small animal private practice. On any given day you may administer anesthesia or medications, take x-rays, perform dental and laboratory procedures, and assist in surgery or emergency medical care or animal restraint. Other duties will be in practice management, record keeping, and client relations and education.

Jobs for vet techs exist in private practice, humane or rescue organizations, military service, pharmaceutical sales and supply, public or private research, veterinary teaching hospitals, zoos/exotic animal facilities, and livestock and equine practice and management.

What Will You Study to Become a Mississippi Vet-Tech

The education of a vet tech, as with a vet technologist or veterinarian, is science-based. But first, most programs require that you take some general courses intended to provide you with a more rounded education, and to prepare you for the ancillary tasks you will need, such as record keeping, inventory, and communicating with clients. The courses usually include English, math, sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), communications, computer skills, even history.

Some programs allow that some of these prerequisite classes be taken in high school, or at another college institution from which the credits can be transferred to your school.

The core curriculum is where all the “ology” courses begin. These courses typically include anatomy and physiology, terminology, radiology, microbiology, nutrition, animal restraint, parasitology, hematology, pharmacology, behavior, animal nursing, and practice management.

Classes that require hands-on experience have an accompanying laboratory. The final quarter or semester places you in an internship where you will refine your newly acquired skills, increase your knowledge, obtain new skills, and observe the daily life of a veterinary technician.

Both schools require a high school diploma, GED, or the equivalent. SAT scores and GPA are heavily considered. A double-application process may be required, in that you apply for general admission to the school, and again to the vet tech program. Previous work experience with animals or a veterinarian is required.

The time to complete this takes two to three years.

Every school’s website has thorough information on curriculum, and admission and application procedures and requirements.

Mississippi Financial Aid Posibilities

Most students require some financial aid. The traditional types of aid (loans, grants, scholarships, veterans benefits) available to college students across the country are available to Mississippi students. Mississippi has two programs to help college students: the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) and the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG).

All applications for financial aid benefits include the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). At the FAFSA website you can learn what types are aid are available and for which you qualify.

Mississippi calls itself a “veteran friendly” state in assisting veterans obtain state and federal financial aid. Every school’s website has thorough information on tuition, financial aid, and veterans benefits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website outlines the federal programs for veterans, dependents and family members.

Once You Graduate, What’s Next?

You will be graduated with an Associate’s in Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology. You will be eligible to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) required to become a certified veterinary technician in Mississippi.

Only graduates from an accredited vet tech program are allowed to take the VTNE. This is why it is important to attend a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Passing the VTNE opens many career possibilities not available to those who did not pass the VTNE or were eligible to take it. Certification further qualifies you and demonstrates your qualifications for the best jobs.

To become certified in Mississippi, you must pass a jurisprudence exam and apply for licensure by the Mississippi State Veterinary Board.

Job Prospects and Potential Pay as a Vet-Tech

The previously stated 30% increase in the demand for veterinary technicians is encouraging. From 2013 BLS statistics, the average pay for veterinary technologists and technicians in Mississippi was $31,470.

Regional average pay (click the radio button for One occupation for multiple geographical areas, then find Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, 292056, and choose Metropolitan or Nonmetropolitan area, then Annual Mean Wage):

Gulfport-Biloxi $24,850
Hattiesburg $27,200
Jackson $29,580
Pascagoula $27,760
Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area $35,090

Job Searching as a Mississippi Veterinary Technician

Finding a job is an ongoing process. Contacts you made in your previous work experience, and during your education and internship, are good places to start looking for a job. Don’t forget to perform a good old internet search for “veterinary technician jobs in Mississippi.”

Some schools help you search for a job. The resources below are also good places to look for jobs and to keep you current in your required continuing education.

Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)

Veterinary Career Network

iHireVeterinary.com

Vet Tech Life, an online journal for veterinary technicians

Vetcetera, a listing of national, state and specialty veterinary technician associations

Where Techs Connect, a job source connecting veterinary technicians with employers