Veterinary Healthcare Careers



Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians are an indispensable part of any vet practice. As two very fast growing careers, qualified Vet Techs and Veterinarians are in high demand. Learn how you can become a Vet Tech or Veterinarian today.

Veterinarian Careers / Vet Tech Careers

Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are both vital to the field of animal healthcare. Jobs in the veterinary field are increasing at a faster than average rate, with more job opportunities opening up every day. Both of these professions are currently in very high demand. Here, you can learn more about how you can begin an exciting career in the veterinary profession.

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While there are a variety of professions that involve working with animals, many of which can be very rewarding, none of them can offer the kind of potential that exists when you choose to become a veterinarian or veterinary technician. Jobs for both veterinarians and veterinary technicians are expected to increase by 16 percent, faster than the average expected growth for other occupations, between 2019 and 2029.

Another type of job within the veterinary field that should be mentioned is veterinary technologists. This profession differs from  that of veterinary technicians, as the duties, training and mandatory education are not the same. Veterinary technicians only need a two-year degree, while veterinary technologists must complete a four-year college program. The pay is slightly better for veterinary technologists, although there is also the cost of additional schooling to consider. There are more choices across the country when it comes to finding a school with a veterinary technician program, and students do not have to travel as far from home.

The number of working veterinarians in the United States is also increasing every year. Veterinary colleges graduate approximately 3,000 students every year, with most of those graduates able to jump right into a full-time position. Some graduates choose to take part in a one-year internship, which provides valuable work experience and sets them up for a well-paying job early in their careers.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), as of 2018, there are 113,394 practicing veterinarians in the United States. Of that number, 73,373 are working in some sort of private clinical practice. Read on to discover more information on becoming a veterinary technician or a veterinarian and joining the ranks of these front-line animal healthcare professionals.

Find Vet Tech Info For Your State

A veterinary technician must complete college-level coursework that is spread out over a two-year period and that results in the awarding of an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology. This two-year path limits the amount of debt incurred and can also fast-track vet techs into the veterinary profession. Most students do not exceed $20,000 in debt when they are finished attending a veterinary technician program. Distance learning is another option that is available online. Veterinary technician prerequisite courses can be taken at the high school level as that prepares students to get a fast start in this line of work.

When choosing a veterinary technician education program, consider selecting one that has been accredited by the AVMA Council on Education (COE) and Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). Graduation from an institute accredited by AVMA-COE or CVTEA is required in most states in order to become licensed or certified for professional practice in most states.

There are 209 AVMA accredited veterinary technology programs for veterinary technicians/technologists across the country. There are even programs available online for distance education. To find a school with an accredited program, click here. (Note: as of 2021, Alaska, District of Columbia, and South Dakota have no AVMA-accredited veterinary technology programs). Attending an accredited program can take care of the first step of the licensing process.

Graduates from accredited programs are eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), sponsored by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). As mentioned above, most states require graduation from an accredited program and passing this national exam before you can take the state-issued licensing exam and start working as a veterinary technician. As of 2021, only the District of Columbia does not offer any credential for veterinary technicians to work in the jurisdiction. In other jurisdictions, there is a voluntary credential that veterinary technicians can obtain by passing the VTNE but licensure is not required. These states are Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming. All other states require passing the VTNE before becoming licensed as a veterinary technician in that state.

Areas of Study

Entering into a career as a vet tech, or a veterinarian, involves completing much coursework that deals with the sciences. Aspiring vet techs take courses involving anatomy and physiology, parasitology, hematology, radiology, anesthesiology, laboratory procedures and more. Large and small animal medicine is also covered over the two-year span in which prospective vet techs will become acquainted with a variety of sciences. Of course, the coursework required of veterinarians is more involved, including three years of classroom, lab and clinical work. The fourth year is typically reserved for clinical rotations at an animal hospital or veterinary facility. A state license is required in every state in order to begin working as a veterinarian.

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Vet Tech and Veterinarian Admissions

The admissions procedures to become a veterinary technician differs according to each school. A high school diploma or GED equivalency is needed.  Some programs will ask for SAT/ACT test scores while also issuing placement tests to new students. You will be enrolling in an associate degree program (unless you are interested in becoming a veterinary technologist, in which case you are looking for a bachelor’s degree program). Contacting each individual school in which you are interested in attending will provide all of the details involved in their admissions process.

Accredited colleges of veterinary medicine have admissions processes that are a bit stricter. Veterinarian school admissions are a little more complex, as there are only 33 accredited veterinary colleges in the U.S. offering a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree. These programs last four years and are a follow-up to the completion of a four-year bachelor’s degree. The admissions process also asks for prior experience and is very competitive. Less than half of the annual applicants are granted admission.

Potential Pay and Job Prospects

The average salary of a veterinary technician differs according to location. As of May 2019, annual mean wage of a veterinary technician is $35,320, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those statistics also revealed that the nation’s top 10 percent of veterinary technicians reported an annual salary of $51,230. Salaries for veterinary technicians vary depending upon the job’s location and the experience of the veterinary tech.

The number of veterinary technicians is on the rise.  As of 2019, there are 112,900 veterinary technicians employed within the United States. The future outlook is also very promising, as 18,300 new vet technician jobs are expected to become available from 2019 to 2029.

The pay for veterinarians is much higher than that of veterinary technicians, reflecting the added schooling and experience required for the position. The national average salary for veterinarians as of May 2019 is $104,820. This salary can climb as high as $160,780 annually for the top 10 percent of veterinarians. Veterinarians do accumulate more debt because of the extensive schooling that is required, although the profession opens the door for a high level of earning potential. Veterinarians are becoming more abundant, and overall job prospects are expected to remain very good over the next decade.

A Growing Industry

The pet industry, as a whole, is growing at an exceedingly fast pace. In 2019, the amount of pet expenditures in the United States totaled $95.7 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association. In 2016, those statistics showed that Americans spent $62.75 billion on veterinary care. The rise in spending has also increased the demand for more veterinary services. The AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Services notes that as of 2017, the number of veterinary practices across the U.S. ranged from 28,000 to 32,000.

Start out as a Veterinary Assistant

You can enter the veterinary field easily with an entry-level job as a veterinary assistant. This is often the first step to take for aspiring veterinary technicians and veterinarians. Veterinary assistants are growing in demand across the country, while their pay rates also continue to increase. As of May 2019, per the BLS, there were almost 100,000 veterinary assistants employed in the U.S., making an annual mean wage of $29,690- not bad for an entry-level position that does not require much, if any, secondary education. There are a variety of responsibilities veterinary assistants must attend to, making them a valuable part of an animal healthcare team. Veterinary assistant certification programs can be completed in less than a year and can lead to a fast start in the veterinary field.

Resources

American Veterinary Medical Association

The AVMA is one of the best resources for those who are currently working or looking to get into the veterinary profession.

National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America 

This association is helps aspiring veterinary technicians looking to learn more information about this field.

Veterinary Career Network

The veterinary field is rife with opportunity, and this website brings together a wealth of career options that apply to numerous types of veterinary workers.

American Animal Hospital Association

American animal hospitals employ a large number of vet techs and veterinarians, and this association is a useful resource in locating pertinent job and education information.

American Association of Veterinary State Boards

Find out what kind of licensing procedures exist in your state on this website that is complete with direct links to each state’s licensing board or agency.