Entering the Vet Tech Career in Washington
In today’s economy, becoming a veterinary technician can be an excellent career choice for those interested in a well-compensated career working with pets and production animals alike.
Whether for a newly graduated student or a currently employed individual seeking a more rewarding career, the field of veterinary technology offers a number of advantages.
Becoming a Veterinary Technician in Washington State
Washington requires that all practicing veterinary technicians be licensed by the state.
In order to be successfully licensed, vet tech candidates must meet all the requirements of the Washington State Department of Health. These requirements include the following:
Graduating from an Approved Program
Students seeking to become veterinary techs in Washington must complete an approved course of study. This normally involves attending a program that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
The AVMA ensures that accredited programs adhere to strict professional standards and will effectively educate all their students in order to ensure that they are prepared for the field of veterinary technology.
Most full time vet tech programs take approximately two years, depending on the student’s schedule. In other cases, students who are currently working or who have family obligations may study in a part-time program or via online distance-learning programs. This allows veterinary technology students to complete their studies in a way that is compatible with their schedules.
Passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination
The Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is a comprehensive exam that is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The VTNE covers all aspects of the veterinary technician’s required skills and is regularly updated by practicing veterinarians. By passing the VTNE, the candidate can demonstrate that he or she has both the practical skills and academic knowledge required to be an effective vet tech.
Completing the Washington State Examination
Unlike the VTNE, the Washington examination focuses on the duties and responsibilities vet techs have under state law. By taking this exam, the vet tech demonstrates an effective knowledge of how to conduct his or her work in accordance with the relevant laws of the state. This test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and requires a 90 percent score in order for the candidate to pass.
Out of State Credential Verification
Finally, vet techs who have a license or credential in another state may apply to have their credential verified by the state. Depending on whether or not their former state’s guidelines are acceptable to Washington, they may be allowed to receive a license without having to complete any other work. Vet techs considering moving to Washington should be certain to verify that their own state’s veterinary licensing procedures are acceptable.
The Duties of a Veterinary Technician
Licensed vet techs in Washington carry out a wide variety of duties under the supervision of a veterinarian. These can include everything from assisting in surgical procedures to interviewing the owners of injured or ill animals in order to gather information required by the veterinarian.
The most common duties of a vet tech include the following:
- Assisting with the care and feeding of animals and supervising veterinary aides in order to ensure that any specific dietary requirements are met.
- Conducting the initial physical exam of an animal in order to establish a baseline for the veterinarian to work from.
- Providing emergency first aid to injured or ill animals that are admitted to the practice.
- Assisting the vet with the preparation of animals for surgery, assisting during the surgical procedure, and monitoring the animal after the surgery.
- Administering drugs that have been prescribed by the veterinarian.
- Taking and preparing blood, stool and urine samples for various tests.
- Interviewing the animal’s owners in order to obtain the best possible information about the animal’s current condition.
Vet techs must possess a strong work ethic and a great attention to detail. When working with clients, they must also help to reassure and comfort owners who may be distraught due to the condition of their companion animal. Finally, vet techs must be capable of effectively communicating and working with their supervising veterinarian, as well as other vet techs and veterinary assistants.
Vet Tech Jobs in Washington
Washington has a large and growing veterinary care sector. With a large number of pet owners in addition to many commercial farms and ranches, vet techs may find themselves working with various types of pets and production animals. Vet techs working in urban areas may also be required to work with a variety of exotic animals, ranging from reptiles to rare birds, which requires an effective understanding of their medical and living needs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 there were over 1700 veterinary technicians employed in the state. In addition, the median annual wage for vet techs in Washington was $33,510, which is somewhat higher than the national median wage for vet techs. Finally, the veterinary technician profession is projected to enjoy strong growth through 2020, making the field one with very promising employment options for newly graduated vet techs.
Veterinary technology is a challenging and rewarding field for the motivated professional. With the continued growth of the veterinary care sector in America, vet techs can expect to enjoy a career that is dynamic, well compensated and highly valued by their fellow veterinary professionals and the general public alike.