The career of a veterinary technician is personally and professionally rewarding, with good job prospects and good pay in New Jersey. And, the Associate’s Degree can be earned in two and a half years right out of high school. The main requirement for admission is a high school diploma, GED, or the equivalent (see application below).
The best path to becoming a licensed veterinary technician in New Jersey is to attend a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. Accreditation ensures that a vet tech program meets the highest standards and provides you with the best education. For a list of accredited schools in New Jersey, click here.
What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?
Before you decide to take up the career of a veterinary technician (vet tech), it helps to know what one does. Yes, a vet tech must enjoy working with animals, but must also possess good skills with people, computers and other technology, be physically fit, and be willing to work at a career that is demanding, challenging, interesting, and not the average eight to five job.
A vet tech assists veterinarians, plain and simple. The vet tech is nurse to the animals, assistant to the veterinarian, and is involved in the general operation of the practice or facility. Your education will prepare you to administer anesthesia, assist in surgery, perform dental and laboratory procedures, restrain animals, take x-rays, and participate in client education, record keeping, inventory, and practice management.
Most vet techs work in private practice (small or large animal), but the other career possibilities are one reason the career has a positive employment future. Jobs can be found in private and public research, military service, zoos/exotic animal facilities, livestock production, veterinary sales, veterinary teaching hospitals, and humane and rescue organizations.
A veterinary technologist has a B.S. degree in Veterinary Technology, whereas a vet tech has an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology. In general, a veterinary technologist earns more, but has to go to school twice as long. The short two-year education of a vet tech make it an appealing career choice.
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.)
What Vet-Techs Will Study in New Jersey
The required college courses comprise two major categories: prerequisites to be accepted to the program (after general admission to the college), and the science-based courses you must take after acceptance into the vet tech program. The prerequisites are more generalized and include English, composition, psychology, economics, humanities, biology and other sciences, math, or anatomy and physiology.
Once you have completed the prerequisite courses, you must apply for and be accepted to the veterinary technician program. The core courses in the vet tech program are heavily science-based: anatomy and physiology, terminology, radiology, anesthesiology, and pharmacology. Large and small animal medicine, nursing, practice management, behavior, and nutrition may be part of the program you choose.
The final semester focuses on an internship in a working practice or veterinary facility. During the internship, you will apply the skills and knowledge you have acquired, acquire more by hands-on experience, and observe the daily professional life of a veterinary technician.
The professional part of your education can be done in two years if you proceed at an average pace.
Application to Become a Veterinary Technician
Application to the college in general requires a high school diploma, GED, or the equivalent. Admission to the veterinary technician program is more stringent and may include a background check, autobiographical essay, proof of immunization status (i.e., tetanus), work experience, and scores on any of a variety of college placement tests. The process is competitive and may even take into account your GPA in high school.
Every school’s website has thorough sections on the admissions process. As soon as you decide to apply, visit the websites for important information such as application deadlines, which sometimes are early in the year for which you intend to enroll for the fall semester.
New Jersey Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition and fees for vet tech programs in New Jersey is very affordable, below the national average. If you proceed at the fastest pace, tuition and fees for two to two and a half years is less than $12,000.
Almost all students need some financial aid, all financial aid begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA website has comprehensive information about all types of financial and helps you determine which is best for you.
New Jersey has a program called New Jersey Stars to help high-achieving high school students with much of the cost of five semesters. The state also has the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, which supplies other types of aid from the federal government.
Military benefits are available to all college students. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has an excellent website to help you determine the types of aid and which are best for you. These include programs for dependents and family members of a veteran.
New Jersey Job Prospects and Potential Pay as a Vet-Tech
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow 30% through 2022. Per 2013 BLS data, the average pay for veterinary technologists and technicians in New Jersey was $33,090.
Regional average pay (click the radio button for One occupation for multiple geographical areas, then find Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, 292056, and choose Metropolitan or Nonmetropolitan area, then Annual Mean Wage):
|Camden Metro Division||$30,830|
|Edison-New Brunswick Metro Division||$32,790|
|Newark-Union, NJ-PA Metro Division||$37,500|
|New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metro Division||$41,540|
|Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ Metro Division||$35,630|
After You Graduate
You will be graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree, and will be eligible to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) required to become a registered veterinary technician in New Jersey. The exam can only be taken by a graduate of an accredited program, which is why it is important you select an accredited school for your education.
If you pass the VTNE exam, you may apply for certification through the New Jersey Veterinary Technicians and Assistants Association. This association handles the registration and continuing education requirements, which are 20 units of approved continuing education every two years to keep your license current.
New Jersey Veterinary Technician Job Search
Searching for a job can be daunting, but being a registered vet tech will make you a good candidate. Begin planning your job search as soon as you begin your education. Contacts made in previous work experience, your labs, and your internship can serve as your first applications. Searching the internet for “veterinary technician jobs in New Jersey” will reveal job opportunities.
The following websites are excellent resources for a job search.
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.