Is It Possible To Become A Veterinary Technician Without School?
In today’s economy, finding a well paying and secure job can be a vital objective for individuals of all ages and experience levels. Fortunately, the American veterinary care sector is experiencing robust and sustained growth, especially among veterinary technicians.
Because of this, individuals interested in a career in the veterinary care field should seriously consider becoming a veterinary technician.
The Duties of a Vet Tech
Vet techs act as a professional assistant to veterinarians and other veterinary care professionals. In many respects, they are the veterinary equivalent of a registered nurse (RN). Among the common duties of vet techs are the following:
- Carrying out the initial physical examination of newly admitted animals, and recording the results for use by the veterinarian.
- Ensuring that animals are properly cared for while at the clinic.
- Assisting the veterinarian before, during and after surgical procedures.
- Supervising veterinary aides, clerical staff and janitorial staff.
- Working in the front office with clients and their pets.
- Instructing pet owners in how to properly administer medication that is sent home with their animals.
- Administering emergency first aid to injured, poisoned or critically ill pets in order to stabilize the animal until the veterinarian can treat it.
Other Career Areas for Veterinary Technicians
In addition to working in a veterinary clinic, there are a number of other fields that require the assistance of vet techs. Wildlife management organizations, research labs, and ranches all employee vet techs to ensure that their animals are properly cared for.
This can be especially important with the increasing public demand for the humane care and treatment for production and research animals.
In addition, the growing emphasis on advanced pet care procedures has produced a need for specialists, many of whom started their careers as veterinary technicians.
Becoming a Vet Tech Without Schooling
Most states require an individual to be licensed or certified in order to practice as a veterinary technician.
In most cases, this certification requires that the candidate complete a course of study at an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited school, in addition to passing a state or national examination.
However, not all states adhere to these requirements and in some cases, an individual can practice as a vet tech without having to attend a veterinary technician program.
Currently, states that do not require licensure include the following:
(select the state below to learn more about requirements in that state)
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
In addition, some states may allow an individual who has been working as a veterinary technician to obtain certification without further educational work. However, in most cases, this option is only open to individuals who were practicing as vet techs before any new licensure requirements were passed by the legislature.
In addition, licensure via work experience usually requires that the vet tech be supervised by a qualified and licensed veterinarian who is willing to attest to the individual’s qualifications to become a veterinary technician.
Finally, the requirements to become a vet tech can change due to new regulations, and individuals who have not yet become vet techs should be certain to check with their state’s licensure board to determine what impact any changes will have on their ability to work as a vet tech. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) can help anyone planning on becoming a vet tech learn what his or her home state’s licensure requirements are, and if licensure is currently required by the state.
While these states do not require certification or licensure, in most cases there are private vet tech professional organizations that offer certification to those individuals who wish to obtain it. Becoming certified usually requires that the vet tech complete a veterinary technician program and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). Many currently employed vet techs choose to become certified due to the professional and personal benefits that certification confers upon the individual.
Voluntary certification can dramatically improve the vet tech’s ability to obtain a well paying career position, especially if he or she is working in a large veterinary clinic, research lab or government agency.
In addition, voluntary certification can improve the vet tech’s job security and career advancement prospects. In many cases, an employer will partially compensate a vet tech for the cost he or she incurs as a part of a voluntary certification process.
Voluntary Certification and Moving to Other States
One advantage of obtaining voluntary certification in a state that does not normally require schooling to become a vet tech is that it makes it easier to move to another state. In most cases, voluntary certification programs comply with the national standards for becoming a vet tech.
This can allow a vet tech who is entering a state where schooling and/or licensure is required to become one without having to enter into a vet tech program. This can be especially important for vet techs who do not wish to spend several years complying with their new home’s standards before they will be allowed to work as a licensed vet tech.
The Job Prospects for Vet Techs Without Schooling
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently estimates that the field of veterinary technology will continue to experience sustained and robust growth. The BLS believes that between 2010 and 2020, the number of job openings for vet techs will increase by at least 52 percent. When combined with attrition due to retirements, illness and other reasons, the job opportunities for vet techs are very bright indeed.
Furthermore, in those states that do not require licensure, there will continue to be abundant employment opportunities for individuals without formal vet tech training. In many of these states, it is customary for veterinarians to provide on the job training to their employees, which allows them to ensure that any vet techs working for them fully understand the nature and duties of their job.
In addition, by developing personal ties with their supervising veterinarians, these vet techs can often obtain other employment due to letters of recommendation from their former employers.
In addition to the excellent job opportunities available to vet techs, they are well compensated when compared to similar fields. The BLS has determined that the annual median wage for vet techs is nearly $30,000. Furthermore, the top ten percent of veterinary technicians earn over $44,000. When combined with the strong job security vet techs enjoy, this makes this field an excellent choice for newly graduated high school students and older individuals seeking to enter a more rewarding profession alike.
Finally, vet techs enjoy a high degree of respect from the public and their fellow professionals alike. Due to their important role in caring for America’s beloved companion animals, vet techs are often seen as very important individuals by pet owners, making them a valued part of the community.
Becoming a vet tech is an excellent career choice for anyone interested in becoming part of a well-compensated and rewarding profession.
While many states require some degree of schooling, it is possible for individuals desiring to become a vet tech to do so without formal schooling in those states that do not have this requirement.
For that reason, while obtaining formal schooling and certification will improve a vet tech’s wage and professional prospects, it is entirely possible to become a vet tech without being forced to enter a formal program of schooling.