In today’s world the health and comfort of pets and livestock alike is more important than ever before. Because of this, there is a dynamic and growing sector of employment for licensed veterinary technicians. In many cases, this profession can allow individuals who have just graduated from high school, or who are seeking another career path from their current job, to enter into the field of veterinary medicine.
Especially in today’s economy, becoming an LVT can get a gateway to a well paying and respected profession. With long-term stability and flexibility alike, the LVT is an ideal field for those who are seeking a career that can adapt to their current personal and professional situation.
The duties of a Licensed Veterinary Technician
An LVT’s duties include assisting the veterinarian in the performance of his duties, as well as duties involving the support of animals in the care of the veterinary practice. These duties include the following:
- The LVT must be able to effectively monitor animals, recording their vitals in such a way as to effectively evaluate their current condition, as well as providing the information to the veterinarian in a timely and effective fashion.
- The licensed veterinary technician must be able to effectively administer drugs in the most effective manner possible, given the animal’s type and condition. This often includes instructing owners in how best to medicate their pet when it has been discharged from the veterinarian’s care.
- The LVT will often take the lead in assisting coworkers in restraining injured or hostile animals. This is especially important, as injured animals must be restrained in a way that protects the staff from harm without aggravating the animal’s own injuries.
- An LVT will often find him or herself assisting the veterinarian in preparing an animal for surgery, as well as monitoring the animal after the operation and ensuring that it receives proper care.
- LVTs are often involved in performing the initial examination of animals that are admitted to the practice. This allows them to obtain baseline information about the animals, as well as detect any symptoms of illness or injury, and relay that information to the veterinarian who will be caring for the pet.
- When animals are brought in suffering from injuries or severe illness, the veterinary technician will have to perform first aid in order to stabilize the animal and prepare it for the veterinarian to perform long-term care to rectify the injury or illness.
Becoming a Licensed Veterinary Technician
Becoming an LVT requires that the candidate attend a school that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). By receiving accreditation by the AVMA, these schools are certified to conform to the professional standards set for the instruction of LVT candidates.
In most cases, a candidate will have attended a two or four-year program that will prepare him or her for a career as an LVT. This will involve an extensive education in veterinary medicine, which will include the required information for the care of common and exotic pets, as well as livestock or other production animals.
Taking the VTNE
After completing the coursework and graduating from the LVT program, the candidate may than take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This is a comprehensive exam that tests all aspects of the student’s skill, both practical and academic. A score of at least 425 is required to pass the VTNE.
Other State Requirements
Some states require that the candidate also take what is commonly known as a jurisprudence exam. Unlike the VTNE, the jurisprudence exam does not test a student’s knowledge of veterinary medicine, but how the state’s laws relate to the practice of veterinary medicine in that state. This is not, however a universal requirement.
In some cases, a state will allow an individual to work as a vet tech without completing the test or course work. However, they are not allowed to call themselves “licensed” or “Certified” veterinary technicians, and have somewhat lower wage earning potential and career flexibility when compared to a LVT.
The Value of Becoming a LVT
By becoming a LVT, the graduate will find a wide variety of career options opening up for him or her. In addition to work as an LVT, a number of specialty fields, such as surgical veterinary technicians or technicians specializing in zoology require experience as an LVT.
There are currently a wide variety of businesses that make use of LVTs. In addition to the traditional veterinarian’s office, there are zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, farms and ranches, and state and local human societies. All of these groups have a need for qualified LVTs to conduct their day-to-day operations.
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the over all job growth in veterinary technicians will be 52 percent between 2010 and 2020. This is well above average when compared to other professions, indicating that the field will continue to enjoy dynamic employment prospects.
However, the LVT is not simply a job, but a long-term profession that is well respected by the public. In a society that has become more attentive to the care of its beloved companion animals, the professionals who work to assist in their care are a valued part of the community. The licensed veterinary technician is not simply a professional, but part of the overall family of pet owners and those who help care for their pets.