Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow significantly in the next decade, faster than most other occupations. The best path to becoming a veterinary technician in Kentucky 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 with an accredited program, click here.
What Will You Do As a Kentucky Veterinary Technician
A veterinary technician in Kentucky assists the veterinarian in all duties of veterinary medicine. The rewards and challenges of the career come from the variety of tasks you will be allowed to perform. Procedures commonly done by a veterinary technician include assisting in surgery and emergency care, performing dentistry, taking x-rays, administering medication and anesthesia, client education, record keeping, and laboratory procedures such as urinalysis or blood chemistry.
Most veterinary technicians work in private practice, but after licensure you will also be prepared for employment in many other fields: private and public research institutions, animal food production facilities, biological laboratories, veterinary teaching hospitals, food inspection, humane societies and rescue organizations, livestock production, and zoos and exotic animal facilities.
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.)
The Application Process to Become a Kentucky Vet-Tech
Veterinary technologists attend school for four years and are graduated with a BS in Veterinary Technology. A veterinary technician attends school on average of two to three years and earns an Associate’s type of Degree in Veterinary Technology (usually Associate in Applied Science).
Application can usually be done online. Admission to the school does not guarantee admission to the veterinary technician program. Requirements for veterinary technician programs vary, but all require a high school diploma, a GED or the equivalent. Some programs also require an interview, an essay, ACT or SAT scores, COMPASS test, math and English assessments, and experience working for a veterinarian. Tetanus immunizations must be up to date, and some programs require a rabies pre-exposure vaccine.
Admission for the fall semester begins early in the calendar year, and enrollment is usually capped to a maximum number of students every year. Every school’s website has detailed information about the admissions process, so check carefully for the admission requirements and procedures.
What Will You Study
One of the admission requirements of many schools is a C average or better in high school. Most require some general education courses after high school, such as biology, chemistry, English, computer skills, communication, and math before you may begin the core curriculum of the program.
The majority of the core course work is science-based. Most programs offer similar curricula, focusing on anatomy, physiology, terminology, parasitology, pharmacology, dentistry, diagnostics, microbiology, radiology, animal nursing, behavior, nutrition, and practice management. Many classes have a laboratory complement in which you will gain hands-on experience for that class. The final semester or quarter focuses on an externship (aka internship), in which you will be in a clinical setting where you will learn new skills, hone your acquired skills, and observe the daily life of a veterinary technician.
Most programs take two to three years. Some schools have a “one course a month” system in which you study only one course for an entire month, designed to allow you to manage your time better. These take no longer than other programs.
Tuition and Financial Aid for Potential Kentucky Veterinary Technicians
Tuition is affordable, especially when financial aid is factored into your costs, but it is one of the most important variables between each school. Check the websites carefully for tuition and all the associated fees. Tuition for out of state residents is two to three times higher than in-state tuition, but Kentucky has reciprocal agreements with its neighboring states that allow for tuition rates to be closer to in-state costs.
All the traditional types of financial aid available to college students around the country are available to students in veterinary technician programs. Nearly all financial aid applications begin with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website, where you can learn what types of aid are available and for which you qualify.
The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority is a good website to find the many types of financial aid available to college students. Kentucky prides itself on being a military-friendly state regarding assistance to higher education for anyone serving the country in the military. On the aforementioned website, there is a tab for “military and veterans” to assist current military and veterans access assistance in funding higher education.
Each school’s website has information on these programs. Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about the types of aid and what might be best for you. These include programs for dependents and family members of a veteran.
After You Graduate
After you graduate, you will be eligible to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) required to become a registered veterinary technician in Kentucky.
If you pass the VTNE, registration can be done through the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners. Registration will not be active until you are employed under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian. To keep your license current, you must complete six hours of continuing education annually. Means of keeping current can be found in the websites listed below under RESOURCES.
Job Prospects and Potential Pay
Job prospects for veterinary technicians in Kentucky are good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow 30% per year through 2022. Per May 2013 BLS data, the average pay throughout the state was $27,480. On average, veterinary technologists earn more than technicians, and pay is greater at institutions and research facilities.
Regional average pay (click the radio button for One occupation for multiple geographical areas, then find Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, 292056):
|Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN||$28,260|
|West Kentucky non-metro area||$23,560|
|West Central Kentucky non-metro area||$27,050|
|East Kentucky non-metro area||$20,920|
Resources For Your Job Search
After you graduate and pass the VTNE, you will search for a job (after finding one you can actively register with the state). Your job search should be ongoing throughout your education. Contacts you will have made during your pre-education employment or volunteering at a clinic, during your on-site clinic visits, and during your internship serve as your initial job search. You can access several very good resources with job postings and means of keeping your current.
Vet Tech Life, an online journal for veterinary technicians
Vetcetera, a listing of national, state and specialty veterinary technician associations