Are you interested in switching careers and do you love animals? If so, then consider becoming a veterinarian technician, or vet tech for short. Let’s discuss what is a vet tech, salary information, how to become one and how long it takes to become a vet tech. Afterwards, you will have a better idea if this is a good career option to pursue.
What Are They and What Do They Do
Vet techs provide animal patients with front-line care and they assist veterinarians with various tasks. They work with a number of animals, such as lab animals, dogs, cats, exotic pets, zoo animals and farm animals to name a few.
Some of the duties a veterinarian technician may perform include cleaning wounds, wrapping wounds and performing initial evaluations of their patients’ conditions. Other tasks include checking vital statistics, administering medications, collecting samples and performing blood tests, urinalysis and other basic lab work.
They also aid in examinations and surgical procedures by doing things such as restraining animals, stocking surgery rooms with tools and supplies, as well as making sure the equipment being used is in working condition. Their communication with owners of pets and they will usually update patients’ files.
The typical vet tech salary comes out to an average $31, 570 per year. However, a number of factors determine how much they will earn. These factors include their experience, where they work, the region they work in and things of that nature.
How To Become One
If you want to become a vet tech, then you’ll want to enroll in an educational program that is AVMA-accredited. There are many schools that have such programs. There are also online programs you can research. Once you have researched schools, you can choose the one you want to enroll into.
Also, you will need to take and pass a credentialing exam, as this is part of the vet tech requirements that you need to meet. When you pass the exam, you’ll receive the CVT designation. Specialized certification is available to those who want to train in a specific area, such as cardiology, dentistry, and anesthesiology to name a few.
Besides obtaining a certificate or degree, they usually have to obtain credentials in the state they want to work in. Not only that, but vet tech jobs require candidates to have strong communication skills and they have to be passionate about helping animals.
How Long Does It Take To Become One
Generally speaking, it can take an average of two years to become one. The length of time depends on the jobs you’re applying for and which school you enroll into, as well as what type of certificate or degree you want to earn. What you want to do is research various online vet tech programs and find out how long it takes to earn a certification. Some programs might be quicker to complete than other programs.
Now you know more about the job, what they do, and how to become a vet tech. If you want to work with animals, then consider becoming training yourself in this field.
How to get Certification
Getting certified involves more than just completing a formal training program, although that is usually the most common path towards this career. Once training has been completed, aspiring veterinarian technicians must obtain certification. Although every state has different requirements regarding certification, the most common requirement is passing a certification exam.
Most of the states use the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), which is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). Students have four hours to complete the 200 multiple choice question credentialing. In some states, the VTNE may only be taken certain days of the year. Candidates who do not pass the exam can apply to retake the exam.
What is on the Certification Exam?
The vet tech certification exam consists of questions on all areas of veterinary medicine but puts special focus on the following areas.
- Pharmacy and pharmacology
- Animal nursing
- Radiography and ultrasound
- Surgical preparation and assisting
- Laboratory procedures
- Dentistry procedures
Candidates can purchase practice exams through the AAVSB website. Many students find the practice exams a good way to become familiar with what’s on the test and determine how ready they are for the actual exam. Depending on the state, those who pass the exam may use the credential of CVT, RVT, or LVT.
Schools – Online and Offline
There are still a couple states that still allow individuals to become vet technicians through an “alternate route” other than completing a formal training school, but these are rare. These few states have other very stringent requirements. For instance, the candidate may be required to take many prerequisite courses before applying for the credentialing exam.
Most of the states require completing a training program from a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association. There are currently more than 230 AVMA-accredited vet tech schools as well as several AVMA-accredited programs that can be taken through distance learning.
Many of the online vet tech schools are hybrid programs, which means some of the courses can be completed on campus and others online. Veterinary tech programs include classroom assignments, lab studies, and clinical education. Educational programs are usually associate degree programs that can be completed in two years. However, some students pursue bachelor degrees, which take four years to complete.
The clinical education is generally in the form of internships, which provide the student with supervises hands-on training. When students are in distance learning programs, the internships or externships are the portions that are completed at an actual veterinary clinic. However, much of the general coursework can be completed online.
Education Requirements Depend on the Specific Job
The term vet tech is used for both veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists. The duties of both a technician and technologist are very similar. The main difference is in the education.
Technicians typically complete a two-year associate degree program while technologists complete a four-year bachelor degree programs. Technologists may also find more lucrative career options such as in teaching, research, animal laboratories or directly with scientists or veterinarians.
Animals, particularly small animals, play a larger role within the family unit, and owners are more willing to pay for animal health care. These factors help keep vet techs very much in demand because their assistance allows veterinarians to see more patients. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that they can see a job growth of 20 percent between 2016 and 2026.
Most vet tech jobs involve working alongside a licensed vet and performing the following duties.
- Preparing testing equipment
- Documenting findings
- Discussing findings with pet owners and veterinarian
- Collecting animals’ biological samples
- Performing x-rays
- Processing blood work
- Analyzing fluids and other materials
- Administering vaccinations
- Keeping pet owners informed during procedures
U.S. News & World Report ranks vet techs #20 among the Best Health Care Support Jobs and #86 among the Top 100 Best Jobs.