For people who enjoy working with animals, the career path of veterinary technician is affordable, attainable in less than three years of schooling, and has a promising future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to increase 30% a year through 2022. Few careers have such encouraging job prospects.
What Does a Vet-Tech Do?
A veterinary technician (vet tech) fills the role of nurse to the veterinarian. Your education will prepare you to assist the veterinarian in surgery, administer medications or anesthesia, take x-rays, perform dental and laboratory procedures, keep records, restrain animals from small to large, and participate in client education and practice management.
Most vet techs work in private practice, but employment opportunities exist in research facilities (private and public), military service, feed manufacturing, veterinary sales, zoos and exotic animal facilities, veterinary teaching hospitals, and humane and rescue organizations.
Veterinary technologists and technicians can also specialize in these disciplines:
- Dental Technician
- Internal Medicine
- Emergency and Critical Care
- Behavior Technician
- Zoological Medicine
- Clinical Practice
- Clinical Pathology
(Click here for more information on these academic specialties.)
Note: the B.S. degree of Veterinary Technology is a four-year program (or more). A vet tech earns an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology (A.A.S.) in two to three years, at less cost. The veterinary technologist generally earns more because of a more advanced degree.
What You Will Study as a Veterinary Technician
The core curriculum to become a vet tech is heavily science-based. But first, some prerequisite courses are required to ensure you have a more rounded education and have other basic skills and fundamental knowledge. Courses such as English, math, communications, humanities, psychology, computer skills, and biology are required before the vet tech program can begin. Each of New York’s ten schools has its own set of prerequisite courses, which can be found on their websites.
The core curriculum focuses on the courses particular to the education of a vet tech, especially all the “ology” classes. Most programs feature courses such as anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, terminology, parasitology, radiology, hematology, and anesthesiology. Animal restraint, behavior, nutrition, husbandry, and large and small animal nursing will be studied.
Laboratories accompany some classes where hands-on experience is needed (for example, restraint of large or small animals). The final quarter or semester places you an internship during which you will observe the day to day job of a veterinary technician, improve your skills and gain new ones, and provide you with valuable “real-life” experiences.
Application Process to Be a New York Vet-Tech
Every school’s website has detailed information about its application process. Generally, a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent is required. Some schools require a background check, an interview or placement tests, others require some practical experience working for a veterinarian, and others require certain vaccinations to be up to date and for you to provide a negative TB test.
Pay special attention to deadlines for application, as some deadlines are as early as January for the following fall semester.
New York Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition and fees vary depending on many factors: which school you attend, how many prerequisite college courses you have completed by the application date, and how long you take to complete the program. In general, if you proceed at the recommended pace, tuition and fees for most programs is under $25,000 for four to five semesters (including summers).
Most students require some financial aid, and every school’s website has a very good financial aid section. All aid begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). At this website you can learn what types of aid are available and for which you qualify. Many websites have a tool called a net price calculator. In a few minutes, by inputting some simple financial information you can estimate the cost of your education and begin your financial planning.
Military benefits are available as well. Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about the types of aid and what might be best for you, including programs for dependents and family members of veterans.
New York has a State Higher Education Services Corporation (the state’s financial aid agency) that provides information about many state-sponsored programs for college students.
You Have Graduated From School, Now What?
You will be graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology and will be eligible to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) required to become a licensed veterinary technician in New York state. Only graduates of a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) are eligible to take the VTNE. If you pass the VTNE, you are eligible for licensure in New York. To find a New York school with an accredited program, click here.
(For licensure information, click here to visit the New York State Office of the Professions.)
Potential Pay as a Veterinary Technician
According to more data from the 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for New York veterinary technologists and technicians was $37,870.
Regional average pay (click the radio button for One occupation for multiple geographical areas, then find Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, 292056):
|Nassau-Suffolk Metropolitan Division||$38,970|
|New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island||$38,210|
|New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ||$41,540|
|Capital/Northern New York non-metro||$34,740|
|Central New York non-metro area||$34,330|
|Southwest New York non-metro area||$27,850|
Finding a Job as a New York Vet-Tech
Some of the schools’ websites have job postings. (You must be in the “veterinary technology” section of the general website.) Use all the contacts you have made in your personal experience, your labs and on-site visits, and your internship to apply for jobs.
Once you have a job, you must keep your licensure current by taking 24 continuing education credits per three-year period.
In addition to your own searching (such as an internet search for “veterinary technician jobs in New York”), the websites listed below will help keep you current, list continuing education classes, and have job postings.
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.