The career of a veterinary technician has a bright employment future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of veterinary technicians is expected to grow 30% nationwide through 2022.
What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?
A veterinary technician assists the veterinarian in all aspects of veterinary care. The challenges and rewards of the career come from the need for the veterinary technician to fill multiple roles in all areas of animal care: surgical assistant, emergency care, anesthesia, radiology, administering medications, record keeping, animal intake and discharge, and laboratory analysis including urinalysis and blood counts.
The best path to becoming a veterinary technician in Idaho is to attend a school with a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). To find a school in Idaho with an accredited program, click here.
Most veterinary technicians work in private practice, but after graduation you will be prepared for employment in many other fields: research (private and public), zoos and exotic animal facilities, humane societies, military service, rescue organizations, laboratories, veterinary supply sales, equine facilities, and livestock production.
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.)
To apply to any of the accredited schools in Idaho you must have a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent. Minimal scores on Accuplacer assessment tests, SAT, ACT are required. Some schools require a COMPASS test, proof of Idaho residency, and a meeting with an advisor.
What Will You Study to Become a Vet-Tech in Idaho
The education required to become a veterinary technician is science-based. General education classes such as English, basic math, biology, chemistry, and communication are required prior to commencement of the program. Some schools allow you to take these as dual college credits while in high school.
Once accepted to a program, you will study medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, animal nursing and restraint, laboratory procedures (hematology, parasitology, microbiology, urinalysis), radiology, anesthesiology, pharmacology, surgical assisting, and large and small animal medicine. Hands-on laboratories complement some of these classes. Your final quarter or semester will focus heavily on an internship where you will apply the skills you have learned, acquire new skills, and observe the daily routine of a working veterinary technician.
Most programs take two years to complete the required 70 to 90 credit hours. One school has a “one course a month” approach, in which you study only one course a month, then move on to another course. This allows for more intense focus on that particular course before studying another. The one course a month approach takes no longer than the “several courses per semester” approach in order to graduate.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition ranges between $115 to $325 per credit hour, with out of state tuition up to twice that. Idaho has a “district” system in which several counties comprise a district. If you live out of that district you will pay in-district tuition, and the county in which you reside pays the difference.
All programs offer traditional financial aid, including state and financial grants, loans, subsidies, and scholarships. Idaho has a strong emphasis on financial aid for former and current military service, as well as programs for dependents and family members. Every school’s website has a financial aid section to explain all your options. Almost all financial aid begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Visit the FAFSA website, where you can learn what types are aid are available and for which you qualify.
Use the net price calculator to estimate your final cost of education. This is an online tool into which you enter basic information such as your age, your parents’ ability to pay out of pocket, your living arrangements, some financial aid information, and in a few simple steps your estimated tuition, costs and fees will be presented for your financial planning.
You will be graduated with an Associate’s type of degree in Veterinary Technology. You will be eligible to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) required to become an Idaho veterinary technician. The exam is three hours long, has 150 questions, and costs $300. To become a certified veterinary technician, you must also have a passing score of at least 90% on the Idaho Veterinary Technician Jurisprudence Examination. Each certified veterinary technician is required to complete a minimum of 14 hours of ongoing continuing education in the field of veterinary technology every two years after certification.
Job Prospects and Potential Pay in Idaho
Job prospects in Idaho and around the country are encouraging. According to the 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow 30% per year through 2022. The average pay for veterinary technologists and technicians in Idaho is $28,890 (BLS). Employment is strongest in the northern Idaho nonmetropolitan and Boise-Nampa regions of the state.
Regional average pay (click the radio button for One occupation for multiple geographical areas, then find Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, 292056):
|North Idaho nonmetropolitan area||$27,500|
After You Graduate as a Vet-Tech
Your job search begins in your contacts made in laboratories, on-site contacts, and your internship. Idaho veterinary technician jobs are posted on the website of the Idaho Society of Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (ISVTA), an organization you should join to keep you current in your continuing education and to foster relationships with your colleagues.
The organizations listed below will also have job postings and will assist you in keeping current in your career.
Vet Tech Life, an online journal for veterinary technicians