Deciding Whether to Become a Veterinary Technician
Veterinary technicians play a vital role in the modern American veterinary care sector. With the growth in the number of families demanding high quality care for their pets, coupled with a rising focus on ensuring excellent care for livestock, production animals and research animals, professional opportunities for veterinary technicians are rapidly expanding.
However, becoming a vet tech is a decision that should be carefully considered before an individual enters a vet tech program.
Benefits of Becoming a Vet Tech
Becoming a veterinary technician has a number of advantages. Vet techs currently enjoy a rapidly expanding job market, professional opportunities and are part of a field that receives a great deal of professional respect.
Career Opportunities for Vet Techs
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that there are over 78,000 practicing veterinary technicians in the United States. In addition, by 2020 the number of available vet tech jobs is expected to increase by 52 percent. When combined with attrition of currently employed vet techs due to retirements and other factors, this means that it will be very easy for qualified vet techs to find employment.
Finally, with an annual median salary of over $29,000, veterinary technicians enjoy competitive wages when compared to other fields with similar educational requirements. More experienced vet techs or those who have obtained a certification in a high-demand specialty can earn considerably more, with the top 10 percent of veterinary technicians earning an annual wage of over $44,000.
Professional Opportunities for Vet Techs
Vet techs also enjoy a wide range of potential professional opportunities. While many vet techs work in veterinary clinics, there are number of other fields that make use of veterinary technicians. The most common areas employing veterinary technicians include the following:
- Veterinary care clinics.
- Humane societies and animal control shelters.
- Farms and ranches.
- Wildlife management agencies.
- Zoos and wild animal parks.
- Research labs.
In some cases, vet techs seeking to obtain employment in these areas may require extra education or experience. In other cases, the vet tech can enter the field directly after graduation, with any extra education being provided via on the job training.
Due to the wide range of potential career opportunities, a vet tech can seek out a field that appeals to his or her interests. This helps ensure that veterinary technicians can enter a field that is both personally and professionally rewarding. Finally, many of these fields provide excellent professional opportunities for a vet tech seeking a long-term career.
Professional and Public Respect
Vet techs also enjoy a growing amount of public respect and recognition. Currently, many Americans demand high quality care for their beloved companion animals and value those veterinary care professionals who help ensure that their pets are treated in an effective and human manner.
Vet techs often find themselves forming close personal relationships with the individuals they work with, making this profession a personally satisfying one. In fact, a growing number of veterinary clinics try to promote this personal relationship between veterinary care providers and animal owners in order to create a more attractive business environment for their clients.
For these reasons, especially for anyone interested in working closely with animals, becoming a vet tech can be an excellent career choice. This is especially true for those seeking a long-term and secure profession that is projected to experience robust and sustained growth in the foreseeable future.
Potential Vet Tech Issues to Consider
However, becoming a vet tech may not be for everyone. Before investing in the time and effort to enter this field, an individual should consider the following factors.
Licensure and Certification Requirements
Many states require that all practicing vet techs be licensed. In many cases, a vet tech must complete a course of study at an accredited school and successfully complete the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) before they can be licensed. In most cases, this process will take a full-time student approximately two years to complete.
In addition, licensed vet techs must continue to demonstrate their proficiency by obtaining additional continuing education (CE) after their graduation. The amount and type of CE credits the vet tech must obtain in order to qualify for license renewal varies from state to state. Individuals should consider whether or not they are prepared to engage in the licensure and CE process before becoming a veterinary technician.
Finally, a vet tech that moves to another state will have to obtain licensure from that state before obtaining employment, regardless of what licenses he or she may have in other states. While most states offer licensure by endorsement, rather than forcing the vet tech to retake the VTNE, the process of obtaining a license in another state may require the vet tech to take various local examinations.
The Emotional Stress of Working as a Vet Tech
Although vet techs provide a vital service, like any veterinary professional, they must accept that ill or injured animals may not always survive.
In addition, a vet tech may be called upon to euthanize ill or severely injured animals in order to spare them further suffering. While an important part of the veterinary technician’s duties, this can be emotionally draining, especially when the vet tech must work with distraught pet owners. Any individual thinking about becoming a vet tech should consider whether or not he or she will be capable of dealing with such events.
In addition to the stress that can arise from working with domestic pets, those vet techs working with livestock or research animals will often be required to euthanize or prepare animals for slaughter or testing. In these cases, individuals should carefully consider the nature of their employment when deciding if a career as a vet tech is right for them.
The field of veterinary technology is a very personally and professionally rewarding profession for those who decide to enter it. By carefully considering the various factors involved in this field, an individual can determine whether or not they will be suited to become a licensed veterinary technician.