Veterinary technicians are an essential part of any veterinary clinic or office. They assist to diagnose and care for sick and injured animals and to provide preventative care as well. Unlike a veterinary assistant, a vet tech requires special training and must be licensed or certified.
This individual has the skills to work closely with veterinarians where needed and act as nurses to the animals. A tech is qualified to perform certain tests and procedures, but can only diagnose or treat animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Veterinary Tech Job Functions: Not to be confused with veterinary assistants, vet techs can perform a larger range of procedures and duties. Typically, a technician is trained to take patient history, provide routine treatments, collect urine and blood samples, record temperature, clip nails, brush teeth and provide annual vaccinations. Techs become trained to know how operating rooms work and learn the common skills needed to assist in surgeries such as spay and neutering. They learn how to administer anesthesia, observe vital signs and how to care for an animal after surgery. Additionally, techs may need to counsel owners on nutrition and health for their pets and console owners when an animal is ill or euthanized. Many techs also perform administrative duties such as maintaining and filing patient records and ordering supplies and equipment for the office. Most vet technicians work full-time or 40 to 50 hours a week in either large cities or rural areas. Techs that work in emergency vet clinics may be on-call 24 hours a day. A new veterinary technician should expect the work environment to be noisy, busy and stressful at times. Great care must be taken when handling and caring for animals as to avoid being scratched or bitten. Veterinary Technician Education: Vet technicians must complete at a minimum a two-year program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Depending on the program, this may result in a certification or associate degree. However, some people choose to continue their education and receive a four-year bachelor's degree. Vet tech programs often consider high school transcripts, extra- curricular activities and SAT/ACT scores when deciding to admit new students.Therefore, students should have good grades in high school math, chemistry and biology. Plus, previous working experience or volunteerism with animal clinics, vets, kennels or rescue groups is highly beneficial in starting a new career in this field. Clinical experience is also required for all students in a vet tech program. This experience can be conducted as a practicum or internship working with a licensed veterinary in an established practice for one to three months. Once clinic hours are completed, most students take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to become licensed. Upon graduation, most people either becomes a licensed vet technician (LVT), certified vet technician (CVT) or a registered vet technician (RVT). Regulations for courses, examinations and licensing is determined by state boards of veterinary medical examiners. Vet Tech Salary: In 2008, there were an estimated 80,000 vet techs working in the United States. Employment for vet technicians is expected to continue to grow at a rapid rate well through the year 2018. During an economic recession, employment should remain stable because animals continuously need care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual earnings for veterinary technicians was between $23,900 and $35,880 as of 2009. How To Become a Vet Tech: When looking for that first job, vet techs should keep their resumes updated and list their degree, certification, special coursework, internships and other professional and volunteer experience. Also, graduates should take full advantage of the career placement center on their college campus and talk to career counselors about finding a job and networking. The American Veterinary Medicine Association highly recommends that professionals join local and national organizations for networking resources and job announcements. Vet Tech Career Potential: While most vet technicians are employed in private veterinary clinics, there is a growing demand for vet techs in other animal care positions. For example, recent graduates may find employment opportunities in vet supply sales, humane societies, wildlife refuges, farms, zoos and bio-medical research labs, among others. Many professionals work under the guidance and supervision of doctors and scientists in addition to veterinarians. Typically, technicians who acquire a four-year bachelor's degree have access to more career opportunities and higher salaries than those with only 2-year degrees. So if you want to become a highly paid vet tech, it is advisable to you acquire a 4 year degree.