How to Become a Vet Tech

The job of a veterinary technician is often compared to that of a nurse in human healthcare. This provides both an exciting and important job function as veterinary technicians are essential when it comes to providing proper animal healthcare. There is an ever-expanding number of pet owners in the United States and that means more demand for veterinary care. In 2015 alone, Americans spent $15.4 billion on veterinary care, according to the American Pet Products Association. The cost of animal healthcare is also on the rise, which makes joining the veterinary field a very lucrative career move. Getting in now as a veterinary technician is a way of creating a rewarding future with job stability.

Veterinary Technician Job Duties

The job of a veterinary technician involves a lot of communication and collaboration with a veterinarian. That means being involved in every aspect of animal healthcare. On a daily basis, vet techs will routinely administer medications, take x-rays, process tissue samples, and assist in both surgery and emergency care. Vet techs are also entrusted with performing lab tests, which include urinalysis or blood counts.

Vet techs are required to do a lot of hands-on work, but that does not exclude them from performing clerical work. They are responsible for maintaining detailed and accurate records, which applies to both animals, as well as medications and supplies. That requires professional vet techs be multi-dimensional in their overall skillset.

Veterinary technicians can also become immersed in high-pressure situations as wounded animals can be facing life or death situations when brought into an animal healthcare facility. That requires both calmness and efficiency on the part of a veterinary technician. And much like nurses in the medical profession, vet techs can be a source of comfort for pet owners who may be facing a difficult situation.

All of that translates into an exciting career that provides a valuable service for animals and their owners. These job duties are an example of why vet techs are expected to complete hands-on training in addition to classroom work before they can begin their professional career. That combination adequately prepares them for what is both a busy and rewarding work environment.

Find Vet Tech Info For Your State

Veterinary Technician programs differ in cost and fees. Program curriculums are designed by each institution, although the concepts taught are generally the same. Each program concludes with the awarding of an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology, which can then be used to begin a career as a veterinary technician.

Veterinary Technician Pay And Job Prospects

The average national salary for a veterinary technician is $33,280 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those statistics also report that the top 10 percent of veterinary technicians in the nation earn a salary of more than $47,410 annually. The level of experience and location both play a key role in determining a vet tech’s salary.

Veterinary technicians are growing in number and there are more than 95,000 now working within the United States. There is expected to be close to 3,000 new vet tech positions opening up every year across the United States. That trend is also expected to last for the next seven years. The upgrade in yearly healthcare provided to animals has had an effect on the vet tech profession. In order to meet that high demand, veterinary facilities are opening and expanded at an accelerated pace, thus creating new jobs for veterinary technicians. For the past few years, economists have continued to call the veterinary field one of the fastest growing industries in the nation. That has also been supported by the rising number of new veterinarians, which creates a greater demand for more vet techs.

Veterinary Technician Education

In order to become a veterinary technician, a Veterinary Technology Associate’s Degree of Applied Science must be earned. This normally takes two years to complete when students attend an accredited college on a full-time basis. There are also schools that offer two-year degrees in Animal Science with a specialization in veterinary technology. In order to gain admission to any of these programs, applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED equivalency.

The Veterinary Technology curriculum is very detailed and often requires a certain amount of observation hours within a veterinary hospital. Some programs require students to complete externships or internships in order to attain the necessary field training. The overall coursework needed to attain a degree involves an in-depth exploration of subjects like animal behavior, vet pathology, clinical practices, biochemistry, animal pharmacology and much more.

This degree also prepares students to enter a Bachelor’s Degree program in Animal Science. It can also serve as a stepping stone for an ongoing education with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. However, it is not necessary to have those two extra years of schooling to work as a veterinary technician. But it could provide vet techs with more leverage when negotiating pay or seeking out new employment.

Veterinary Technician Licensing

Each state is entrusted with setting its own guidelines for the licensing of its veterinary technicians. In most instances, this involves passing a state-issued exam after completing the necessary educational requirements. Most states use the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) for licensing purposes. This examination is comprised of 200 multiple choice questions and must be completed within four hours.

Each state operates its licensing protocol differently, which makes it important to contact your state licensing board of veterinary medicine. This will provide the exact details on which steps to take in order to procure a license. A license is also subject to renewal and requires a fee to do so within an allotted period of time.

Where Do Veterinary Technicians Work

Veterinary Technicians find work in any kind of establishment that is home to a veterinarian. Private veterinary practices are a common workplace for vet techs. Animal hospitals and pet clinics also require the services of a veterinary technician. Humane Societies and Animal Shelters hire multiple vet techs as well. Research labs can even employ veterinary technicians to help provide care to animals and also check for any signs of ill health. Other types of workplaces for vet techs include veterinary teaching hospitals, livestock and equine facilities, zoos, exotic animal facilities, and rescue organizations. In all of those aforementioned workplaces, vet tech duties remain relatively the same, although there may be more of an emphasis on certain job functions according to each location.

Vet Tech Continuing Education

Some states require veterinary technicians to maintain their status with ongoing education credits. This does not necessarily mean going back to school for a certain number of classes. Workshops, conferences and seminars routinely serve as acceptable forms of ongoing education. Joining your state’s veterinary technician association or veterinary medical association will keep you updated on what kind of education credits are needed and where those options are available. Staying current is important as technology continues to offer new innovations in the field of veterinary medicine.

Resources

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America 

This association provides a tremendous amount of resources for veterinary technicians as it is a nationwide organization committed to bettering the vet tech profession.

American Veterinary Medical Association

The AMVA offers news, job listings, practice tips and everything that relates to the veterinary profession within the United States.

American Association of Veterinary State Boards

This listing provides links to every state veterinary board, where vet techs can learn what type of licensing is required in each state.

Vet Tech Life

This is an online journal for veterinary technicians as they can read about new trends, approaches and innovations in the veterinary field.

Vetcetera

This website provides a detailed listing of national, state and specialty veterinary technician associations.

Veterinary Career Network

Explore all of the careers associated with the veterinary field as this website offers job listings, veterinary information and more.