Becoming a veterinary technician is an excellent choice in today’s economy.
With a growing emphasis on professional pet care, the demand for qualified veterinary technicians is continuing to increase, making this field a very promising one for qualified individuals.
The Duties of a Vet Tech
Veterinary technicians carry out a variety of roles in the veterinary clinic and directly assist the vet and their fellow vet techs in providing high quality care for ill or injured animals. A vet tech must be detail oriented, capable of effectively following detailed instructions and be able to work independently. Furthermore, vet techs must be able to effectively communicate with customers and their fellow coworkers alike.
Among the most common duties of a vet tech are the following:
- Vet techs usually carry out the initial physical exam when an animal is brought into the practice. They record the information and prepare it for use by the vet. In addition, vet techs usually are the first veterinary professionals to interview the animal’s owners to determine the reason for the visit to the clinic.
- If the animal is suffering a severe injury, the vet tech will provide emergency first aid in order to stabilize the animal for later treatment by the veterinarian. This requires an ability to work quickly and remain calm in an emergency.
- Vet techs assist the veterinarian before, during and after surgical procedures. They also observe the animal after the operation in order to ensure that no adverse reactions develop.
- The vet tech will administer medication that has been prescribed by the veterinarian.
- In some cases, vet techs may supervise other veterinary professionals, including fellow vet techs, veterinary aides, and the clerical staff.
Vet Tech Specialties
In addition to their regular duties, some vet techs choose to specialize in one or more fields, such as surgical technology and clinical pathology. Becoming a specialist usually requires obtaining more education and passing a professional exam, as well as several years of experience as a vet tech. Individuals who are interested in becoming a specialist should consult directly with the credentialing association in order to obtain the current certification requirements.
Becoming a Vet Tech
Although not all states require a vet tech to become credentialed, in general it is wise to obtain a credential, as that radically improves the vet tech’s career and salary options. In order to become credentialed, a vet tech must complete an accredited program and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
While Puerto Rico does not currently require vet techs to be licensed or credentialed, that may change in the future.
Veterinary Technician Programs
Vet tech programs train the student in the academic and practical aspects of becoming an effective veterinary technician. In most cases, the program includes a mixture of class and lab work, while some programs include internships that allow students to work directly under practicing veterinarians.
Most vet tech programs take approximately two years for a full-time student to complete. However, many programs offer part-time and distance learning options to accommodate students who are unable to attend classes on a full-time basis. This can be especially important for working students, who may attend most of their classes on weekends or in the evening.
In order to be accepted by Puerto Rico and most other states, vet tech programs must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which evaluates all national veterinary technology programs.
An accredited program has been proven to adhere to high academic standards, ensuring that the program’s graduates are fully prepared to become veterinary technicians.
Taking the VTNE
The VTNE is a comprehensive examination that is developed and administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The VTNE is designed to effectively evaluate the candidate’s practical and academic skills and is regularly updated to ensure that it remains current with the modern practice of veterinary medicine.
In order to pass the VTNE, a student must obtain a score of at least 425 on the exam. While a student can repeat the VTNE, the AAVSB will generally not allow an individual to take the test more than five times and may impose other restrictions on when and how the VTNE can be retaken. For this reason, it is best that a student not take the VTNE until he or she is confident of passing it.
Career Options for Veterinary Technicians
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment levels for veterinary technicians will continue to rise at an above average rate through 2020. This, coupled with the retirement of current vet techs, makes veterinary technology a very promising career for newly graduated vet techs. In addition, the annual median wage of over $29,000 compares very favorably with other professions requiring similar levels of education and experience.
Veterinary technology is a financially and personally rewarding field for those interested in contributing to the care of America’s beloved companion animals. Whether for a newly graduated student or an individual who is interested in transitioning to a new career, becoming a vet tech can be an excellent career choice.
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