Veterinary technicians are becoming an increasingly vital part of the modern veterinary medical sector.
By assisting veterinarians to provide high quality care to pets and livestock alike, the veterinary tech can radically improve the quality of care available for injured or ill animals. However, vet techs can improve their skills and career options, by entering into an intern program.
The Current Veterinary Tech Career Market
The field of veterinary technology is currently expanding at a rapid pace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that it will enjoy above average growth through 2020. With the expansion of rural and urban veterinary practices, increased emphasis on the health of livestock and production animals, and the existence of wildlife management and animal control programs, the field of veterinary technology has a very bright future ahead of it.
The Importance of Vet Tech Internships
An internship is a period where a veterinary technician, usually after graduation from his or her program, works in a veterinary office, humane shelter or other animal care facility, under the supervision of a veterinarian. The student performs the same duties as an employee, but also receives mentoring and assistance from his or her supervisor as part of the internship.
An internship has the following advantages:
- An internship allows the individual to obtain real world experience from veterinary practice, instead of being limited to school activities.
- Unlike a regular veterinary job, the individual has the advantage of a mentor and other structured learning activities that occur alongside his or her duties.
- Many internships work alongside American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited veterinary technician programs. Due to this, the internship is specifically designed to effectively work with the individual’s classroom and practical education.
- Operating as an intern allows the veterinary technical student to observe and interact with experienced professionals at work.
- Internships can open better employment opportunities for a successful vet tech. Favorably impressing his or her supervisors and coworkers can lead to the ability to obtain endorsements from them, or even continue as a regular employee after his or her internship has ended.
Vet Tech Internships and Becoming Certified Vet Techs
While not all states require veterinary technicians to become certified, many do. In addition, even in those states that do not require certification, a certified technician enjoys improved career options and will likely receive a higher salary than a non-certified vet tech. Furthermore, when a vet tech moves to another state, being certified often makes it much easier to practice as a veterinary technician in his or her destination state.
However, certification often has a number of requirements. Most often, these include graduating from an AVMA accredited program, as well as passing a national test such as the Veterinary Technical National Examination (VTNE), and in some cases, a local state exam. In addition, many certification requirements require letters of recommendation or proof that the individual has practiced as a veterinary technician for a certain period.
In this case, serving as a veterinary tech intern can fulfill some of the experience requirements for certification. The vet tech’s internship mentors and supervisors can also provide letters attesting to his or her character and professional qualifications. Due to the fact that they are associated with AVMA programs, these letters will often carry greater weight when being considered for certification.
Deciding on a Career as a Veterinary Tech Intern
Finally, vet tech internships can help the candidate decide what type of practice he or she wishes to enter. The veterinary field is very wide, and working at an internship will allow the individual to get a feel for what type of veterinary practice is best.
Some veterinary technicians prefer to work at residential practices, assisting families with their pets, while others may prefer working in other settings, such as wildlife management or animal shelters. In some cases, an internship may have the veterinary tech work at in a variety of locations in order to maximize the value of the internship.
Many vet tech internships come with a stipend, helping to defer the cost of living while working as an intern. This can be especially important for students that are supporting a family.
Depending on the location and program, this stipend may be close to what a beginning vet tech earns. Thus, the advantages of a veterinary tech internship includes receiving a practical education in the veterinary field while being financially compensated by the employer.
Becoming a veterinary tech intern is an excellent way to obtain a high quality education and make obtaining a credential easier. In addition, by opening up new avenues for employment and allowing the vet tech to make professional connections in the veterinary field, an internship can be an excellent method to improve the individual’s long-term career prospects.