What to Know About Being a Vet Tech
- You can start a vet tech career with an associate degree.
- Vet techs provide many of the same services as nurses but for animals instead of human patients.
- The career outlook for vet techs is strong.
- Vet techs report a high percentage of on-the-job illnesses or injuries compared to other careers.
Do you love animals and want a career that helps make their lives better? If so, being a vet tech might be the right job for you. As a vet tech, you will positively impact animals' lives in many ways.
You can start your vet tech career with an associate degree in vet tech. Look for a program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. These programs provide the skills and knowledge you'll need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).
The requirements for licensing vary, but in most states you must complete an accredited vet tech program and pass the VTNE to become licensed as a vet tech. If you love working with animals, being a vet tech can be extremely rewarding.
What Is a Vet Tech?
A vet tech is a licensed professional who assists a veterinarian, much like a nurse assists a doctor. Vet techs work under the supervision of a veterinarian and provide nursing care to their animal patients, including routine and emergency treatment.
In most states, vet techs can perform any task a veterinarian asks them to do except for surgery, prescribing medications, and diagnosing medical conditions.
Vet tech responsibilities commonly include:
Taking case histories for animal patients Taking X-rays Administering medications Performing diagnostic tests Vaccinating pets Treating injuries and illnesses Emergency first aid Restraining animals Recording the animal's condition and behavior Preparing instruments and animals for surgery Assisting the vet during medical procedures Administering anesthesia Advising pet owners on their care
Keep in mind that a vet tech, or vet technician, is not the same as a vet technologist or a veterinary assistant. A veterinary assistant typically attends an approved veterinary assistant (AVA) program and passes the AVA exam, though some veterinary assistants work right out of high school. Vet techs, however, must be licensed.
Vet technologists need a bachelor's degree instead of an associate degree and function similar to registered nurses, whereas vet techs compare to licensed practical nurses.
What Is a Vet Tech's Career Outlook?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of veterinary technologists and technicians will increase by 16% between 2019-2029 — much faster than the average of 4% for all occupations. The BLS projects that spending on pets, including pet care, will continue to rise and lead to an increased demand for vet techs.
What Is a Vet Tech's Salary Potential?
According to the BLS, vet techs and technologists earned a median income of $36,260 in 2020, which works out to $17.43 per hour. This is less than the median for all occupations, which is $41,950, but vet techs who work in the education sector earn a median income of $41,980.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vet Tech Careers
If you love animals, being a vet tech can be a rewarding career choice. You get to work with animals every day and play an important role in helping them stay in good health. You will also enrich their owners' lives by giving them more years of enjoyment with their pets.
That being said, the median income for vet techs is less than the median income for all occupations, so if pay is important to you then you may be happier choosing another animal-related career path.
Vet tech programs are very competitive, and most have a limited number of seats available. Some schools offer direct admission programs, making it easier for new freshmen to get into the program. High school students considering a career as a vet tech should strive for high marks in their science classes, especially biology.
In 2016, about 12% of those who worked in the veterinary field reported work-related illnesses or injuries. That is a higher percentage than most occupations, including policing, firefighting, and construction. The risks faced by vet techs and other veterinary workers include radiation, noise, repetitive-motion injuries, animal bites, waste anesthetic gases, and infectious agents.
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