Whether they help us get a job done or are solely for companionship, animals can make our lives richer and more fulfilling. However, animals need regular healthcare to maintain their wellbeing and might need emergency care if they become sick or injured. Veterinary technicians and technologists assist veterinarians in providing this care to animals. If you would like to make a career out of your love for animals, consider exploring veterinary technician schools.
Diagnosing Veterinary Technician Programs
Veterinary technology programs are offered at both the associate’s and bachelor’s degree level. Becoming a veterinary technician typically requires the completion of a two-year associate’s degree program, while veterinary technologist positions usually require a four-year bachelor’s degree. Most veterinary technician programs will also involve a practicum component so that students can gain hands-on experience. During your schooling, you might take classes such as:
- Introduction to veterinary technology
- Anatomy and physiology of animals
- Animal pharmacology and anesthesiology
- Introduction to diagnostic imaging
- Veterinary diseases
- Laboratory animal technology
While every state requires that veterinary technicians and technologists be certified, the specific requirements vary from state to state. The most commonly required certification is successful completion of the Veterinary Technician National Examination. Those who wish to work in a research facility will likely be asked to have certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, which offers three different levels of certification. In addition to your credentials, manual dexterity, compassion, attention to detail and interpersonal skills might be advantageous when it comes to securing employment.
Life as a Vet Tech
Most veterinary technicians work full-time during normal business hours and in an office or clinical setting for private veterinarians. During the course of a single day, a veterinary technician may assist with treatments or surgery for a broad range of domestic animals, including not only cats and dogs but also birds, reptiles, and other mammals that individuals keep as pets. The veterinary technician will often gather basic information about the animal before the veterinarian visits with the animal and owner.
Their job responsibilities include performing emergency first aid, monitoring animals responses, administering medications and treatments, collecting and performing tests on laboratory samples, and taking x rays. In an animal hospital, zoo or research facility, veterinary technicians may be on call as animals, like humans, can become ill at any hour. Although some responsibilities will overlap, the main difference between veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists is that technologists tend to work in more advanced research jobs, typically in a laboratory setting.
Vitals on the Vet Tech Job Market
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for veterinary technicians and technologists is projected to grow much faster than average at a rate of 52% in the coming decade. Technological advances in veterinary care, the increasing pet population, and the view of pets as important family members will likely spur the bulk of this growth. As veterinarians become more specialized, more and more responsibilities are handed off to veterinary technicians and technologists. Veterinarians also increasingly prefer to hire vet techs over less skilled veterinary assistants.
The median annual wage for veterinary technicians and technologists was $30,290 in 2012. However, those who work in research positions can earn significantly higher wages. The top 10% of veterinary technicians earned $44,030. With the growing need for animal care, particularly in rural areas, veterinary technicians will generally find strong employment prospects. Enroll in a veterinary technician school, and start the beginning of a compassionate and rewarding career working with animals.
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