Maintaining the health and comfort of their beloved companion animals is a vital goal for many American families. Whether it is an elderly cat or young puppy, pet owners currently demand high-quality pet care from their veterinarians.
When coupled with the rising need for skilled veterinary care in zoos, farms, and humane shelters, it is plain that the veterinary care sector is experiencing robust and sustained growth.
This is especially true for veterinary technicians. This profession serves the same role in the veterinary care sector that registered nurses (RNs) do in the healthcare sector. Because of their importance in providing quality pet care, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that the number of veterinary technicians will increase by at least 52 percent between 2010 and 2020. In addition, the annual median wage for vet techs in the United States is nearly $30,000.
Because of these factors, vet techs are currently enjoying extremely promising professional advancement options. In addition, attrition in the field from retirement and other causes makes it likely that job opportunities for new and currently employed vet techs alike will continue to see sustained and robust growth.
Earning More as a Vet Tech
There are a number of ways that a vet tech can increase his or her earning potential. In addition, many of these methods can also make it easier for a vet tech to obtain employment in all parts of the United States.
Become a Licensed or Certified Vet Tech
Becoming a licensed or certified vet tech is the most effective method an individual can use to improve his or her earning potential.
Many states require certification or licensure before allowing a vet tech to seek employment, while others do not. However, it is wise to become certified even if it is not required, as certification allows the vet tech to demonstrate their professional competency in the field of veterinary medicine.
State licensure is normally handled by a state agency, while in those states that do not require vet techs to obtain a license, certification can be obtained from the state’s professional veterinary or veterinary technician’s association. In most cases, the requirements for certification are identical and include the following:
- The candidate must have graduated from a program that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
- In most cases, certification requires passing the National Veterinary Technician Exam (VTNE).
- Some states require the candidate to pass a state jurisprudence examination, in order to ensure that the candidate fully understands how state law impacts a veterinary technician’s duties.
Finally, in addition to increasing the likely wage a vet tech can command, becoming certified makes it far easier to obtain a license in another state. In many cases, a state will allow licensure by endorsement or reciprocity, enabling vet techs that are certified by a state or professional agency to obtain a license without having to repeat any coursework or retake the VTNE.
Obtain a Certification as a Specialist Vet Tech
There are a number of specialty fields in veterinary medicine, ranging from large animal care to clinical pathology. In many cases, a vet tech who has obtained experience in these specialties will enjoy a higher earning potential than vet techs without such skills.
However, vet techs who intend to become a specialist should obtain a professional certification that will demonstrate their professional competency in the field.
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has recognized a number of vet tech specialties and their affiliated professional associations.
By doing so, the NAVTA can help ensure that a certification in a veterinary specialty will adhere to rigorous academic and professional standards. Vet techs interested in seeking a specialty certification should consult with the NAVTA, as new specialties are being recognized on a regular basis.
In most cases, a vet tech must already have a varying amount of experience before he or she can seek to obtain a specialty certification. However, vet techs interested in becoming a specialist can obtain work experience in the specialty before becoming certified.
Certification normally requires the following steps on the part of a candidate:
- Be able to document extensive experience in the field that the vet tech is seeking certification in. The vet tech must usually have several thousand hours of work experience before entering a certification program.
- Be able to document completing approved continuing education (CE) courses in the specialty.
- The vet tech must provide a case log that will cover a number of veterinary cases relating to the specialty. In addition, the vet tech will also have to provide several in depth case overviews that can demonstrate his or her competency in the specialty.
- Finally, most specialty certification programs require the vet tech to successfully complete an exam in order to demonstrate his or her practical and academic qualifications in the veterinary specialty.
In most cases, a specialty certification will help the vet tech obtain a better salary, faster promotion opportunities, and a more secure career. In addition, many businesses will hire a certified specialist in preference to non-certified vet techs with less experience in the specialty.
This is especially true due to the growing demand for high quality pet care, which has resulted in many veterinary care facilities offering a number of specialized forms of care for injured or ill animals. In addition, some fields, such as wildlife management and zoological care, require a larger number of specialists than traditional veterinary clinics do.
However, it is important to note that obtaining a certification in a veterinary specialty does not eliminate the need to obtain licensure as a vet tech in those states that require it. A specialty certification is an industry certification, rather than a government certification or license.
With the continuing growth in the veterinary care field, vet techs currently enjoy a number of options for improving their professional and salary advancement options. Whether it is in obtaining certification as a vet tech or seeking professional recognition as a veterinary specialist, a vet tech can easily secure a well-compensated and personally rewarding career in this field.