In today’s economy, finding a rewarding, dependable and long-term career can be a challenge for the newly graduated adult.
In other cases, a worker may be looking to change his or her career in order to obtain a higher salary or enter a more personally rewarding profession.
Fortunately, there is currently a high demand for certified veterinary technicians, due to the ever-growing importance of professional and effective health care services for pets.
The Duties of a Veterinary Technician
A veterinary technician is responsible for a wide variety of duties under the supervision of a veterinarian. Receiving effective vet tech training prepares the veterinary technician for the full range of duties that he or she will carry out in order to assist in maintaining the health of those animals under her care.
These duties normally include the following:
- The vet tech must be prepared medication, both orally and by injection, occasionally to frightened or hostile animals.
- The vet tech will handle the collection and proper preparation of various samples for testing.
- In emergencies, the vet tech must be prepared to provide emergency first aid to injured animals.
- Many vet techs will assist the veterinarian before and during surgical procedures.
- The vet tech will often perform the initial exam for any animals entering the facility. This information will be utilized by the veterinarian to help determine the current health of the animal.
- In many cases, the veterinary technician will be required to restrain frightened or hostile animals for their safety and that of the veterinary staff.
Becoming a Veterinary Technician
In order to become a certified veterinary technician in Pennsylvania, the candidate must obtain vet tech training from a school that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which is the national organization in charge of ensuring that accredited vet tech schools meet required educational and regulatory standards.
Vet tech schools in PA can offer either two year or four-year programs, and range from programs that offer courses for high school students to full-scale four-year university programs.
These courses will train the prospective veterinary technician in all aspects of his or her duties, including academic and hands-on work, which will prepare the technician to face both the practical and technical aspects of a career as a veterinary technician.
In many cases, the vet tech program has been created by veterinarians, and most classes are taught by practicing veterinarians, allowing them to share their practical experiences with the students during their vet tech training.
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The Vet Tech Exam
After graduating from a vet tech program, the student must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is designed to allow the student to demonstrate their qualifications for becoming a practicing veterinary technician.
This exam is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) and is regularly updated by educators and veterinarians in order to remain current with the state of the art in veterinary medicine.
A student may only take the VTNE a limited number of times. Currently, a candidate cannot take the VTNE more than five times, without a special dispensation from the AAVSB and approval from the state licensing board. This approval is not automatic, so the candidate should work to ensure that they pass the VTNE when they first take it.
Becoming a Certified Veterinary Technician in Pennsylvania
Upon passing the VTNE, the candidate must apply to the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine, which oversees all matters relating to the licensing of veterinary professionals in the state. He or she must provide the following:
- The candidate must provide information about the school where the candidate received his or her vet tech training. His diploma and transcripts must be sent from the school directly to the board, as copies will not be accepted.
- A history of any previous employment in the veterinary field the candidate may have.
- Proof that the applicant has not been convicted of a felony relating to the abuse of drugs or other controlled substances. The individual may still be certified if the offense occurred longer than 10 years ago, or can satisfactorily prove to the board that he or she has made satisfactory progress in rehabilitation since the offense occurred.
- Although they are sent directly from the AAVSB to the board, the student should make certain to ensure that there is adequate time for the AAVSB to transmit the results of the VTNE to the board.
- The vet tech must pay a licensing fee and must renew the license every two years in order to remain qualified to practice as a veterinary technician.
- Finally, veterinary technicians must remain current in their knowledge, and this requires that they receive continuing education while having the license. Currently, Pennsylvania requires at least 16 hours of continuing education every two years in order to renew the veterinary technician’s license.
Employment as a Veterinary Technician
A certified veterinary technician has access to a wide range of employment opportunities. With the growing importance many families place on the health and comfort of their pets, coupled with the importance of maintaining the health of farm animals, the veterinary medical field continues to expand.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined that employment for veterinary technicians will continue to expand at a rate that is well above average for the foreseeable future.
However, becoming a veterinary technician is not simply a career, but a community service. It is a field that allows the technician to help his or her community in a real and important way, by maintaining the health of cherished pets. For these individuals who see their pets as family members, the vet tech is a component of a service that they could not bear to live without.