Becoming a Utah Veterinary Technician
The modern veterinary care sector in Utah is a dynamic and growing field. In addition to the need for skilled veterinary professionals in urban and rural veterinary clinics, a growing number of veterinary technicians are employed in research labs, wildlife management programs and zoos.
Because of this, individuals interested in a challenging and rewarding professional career should consider becoming a Utah veterinary technician.
Utah and the Veterinary Technician
As a state with a large number of rural and urban areas, Utah is experiencing robust and sustained growth in job openings for vet techs. Currently, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Utah has approximately 750 employed vet techs, who earn an annual median salary of nearly $32,000. When combined with Utah’s low cost of living, this is an excellent salary for veterinary technicians.
In addition, the BLS has also estimated that the job openings in the field of veterinary technology will grow by approximately 52 percent between 2010 and 2020. This, coupled with attrition from retirement and other factors, makes the field of veterinary technology very promising for those seeking to enter it, whether as a first career or after transitioning from another job.
Licensing Requirements in Utah
Utah currently has no licensing or registration requirements for veterinary technicians. However, while this would allow individuals with no training or experience to seek to become a vet tech, most veterinary practices prefer to hire qualified veterinary technicians.
Because of this, individuals interested in becoming a veterinary technician should complete a course of study that allows them to demonstrate that they are highly skilled in this field in addition to passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
Completing a Veterinary Technician Program
The first step for individuals seeking to become professionally qualified is to enter an accredited veterinary technology program. In most cases, these programs can be completed in approximately two years by a full-time student.
These programs award an associate’s degree which most states will accept as a component of an individuals preparation to become a vet tech.
In addition, many programs offer part-time and online study options, allowing students who cannot attend on a regular schedule the opportunity to obtain an associate’s degree. However, some schools will require their students to be physically present for examinations, labs, or clinical sessions. Anyone who may have difficulty in attending the school on a physical basis should make certain to discuss possible alternatives with the faculty and administration.
It is extremely important that a student only attend a school that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA ensures that all accredited programs have qualified instructors, in addition to a curriculum that can effectively prepare its students for the challenges they will face as vet techs. In addition, many states will only accept accredited programs for licensure or certification purposes.
The Veterinary Technician National Examination
The VTNE is a comprehensive examination that covers all aspects of the vet tech’s duties. As such, it includes a wide variety of multiple-choice questions relating to the theory and practice of veterinary medicine. Candidates must obtain a score of at least 425 in order to pass the VTNE.
While Utah places no limitations on how many times a student can take the VTNE, the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB), allows candidates to retake the test five times. Individuals who are seeking to retake the test after their fifth attempt to pass the VTNE must receive permission to do so.
In general, the AAVSB will require that the candidate take measures to rectify the issues that resulted in failing the VTNE before he or she will be allowed to retake it a sixth time. In addition, the individual will have to reapply and pay a registration fee for every attempt to retake the VTNE. For this reason, candidates should only take the VTNE when they are confident of their ability to pass the exam.
Education and Moving out of Utah
In addition to improving an individual’s professional qualifications in Utah, finishing an approved course of study and completing the VTNE makes it easier to obtain licensure in those states that require it.
This can be important for individuals who may at some point move to another state and who do not want to repeat their training.
Those vet techs who are considering moving to another state should contact that state’s licensure board or local professional vet tech association in order to determine what they must do to practice in that state.
The Benefits of Becoming Professionally Qualified
The primary advantages of becoming professionally qualified by completing a program and the VTNE is that the veterinary technician will be able to improve his or her professional career prospects. Many veterinarians prefer to hire vet techs that are already fully trained and will have to be instructed in the nature of their duties.
In addition, many customers of a veterinary practice demand that the staff that will be working with their pets or livestock be professionally trained. For this reason, most vets will hire a professionally trained vet tech, in addition to offering better salary and benefits.
Larger organizations may also require professional qualifications. Wildlife management programs and research laboratories are an example of fields that require highly trained veterinary technicians in order to effectively carry out their duties.
In addition, qualified vet techs will usually enjoy more job security and better promotion options.
Finally, there are a number of veterinary technician specialties offered by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). In addition to their individual requirements, most specialties require that any vet tech seeking certification can demonstrate their professional qualifications.
Usually, this can be done by a combination of work experience, completion of an accredited vet tech program, and proof of passage of the VTNE. This places vet techs that have not completed those steps at a severe disadvantage.
Ultimately, becoming a vet tech in Utah is best done by completing an accredited program and passing the VTNE. By doing so, the vet tech can be assured of having excellent professional options in the field of veterinary technology.
Finally, vet techs can enjoy a great deal of professional and public respect due to their role in ensuring the health of America’s beloved companion animals, making this profession both personally and professionally rewarding.