Train to Be a Vet Tech

Updated on February 5, 2020
Rachelle Williams profile image

I'm a research geek who loves helping change lives by identifying emotionally rewarding and financially lucrative careers!

If you have a goal of becoming a vet tech, I would imagine that you are a generally compassionate person. Compassion is a good trait to have for an aspiring vet tech, along with communication skills and physical stamina.

The job can be both physically and emotionally demanding, but if you are up to the task and ready to roll up your sleeves and dive in, you are in for a rewarding career.

So, you want to be a vet tech?

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Veterinary technicians are supervised by and work alongside licensed veterinarians. They work in animal hospitals and clinics, and also in labs where animal testing is conducted. Wherever they work, their main job is to assist the veterinarian during animal exams, but they are also involved in the following duties:

  • Nurse and provide first aid to sick and injured animals
  • Groom animals and prepare them for surgery
  • Administer anesthesia and medications, take x-rays, and perform lab tests
  • Record animal case histories and observe their behavior

Along with the duties above, vet techs who work with lab animals are specifically tasked with the responsibility of making certain to treat the animals as humanely as possible.

Vet techs work with animals of all sizes, from mice to horses, and sometimes even larger animals, especially those who work in zoological settings. Some vet techs choose to specialize in certain areas, such as emergency medicine, dentistry and anesthesia, among others.

There is a significant risk of on the job injury for vet techs, because sick, injured, aggressive, abused and/or frightened animals will bite, scratch and kick. Then, there are the relatively off-beat duties, like artificial insemination and ear plucking. When it comes to the emotional demands of the job, most vet techs will tell you that it is never easy to euthanize an animal, but it is a normal part of the job.

Typically, there is a difference between veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists. Technologists typically have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Technicians usually have a 2-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. Some vet tech programs can even be completed 100% online.

When it comes to licensing and certification, each state has its own rules, but most states require vet techs to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

There is also a common position known as a vet assistant, this person does many of the same jobs as a vet tech, but they are more heavily supervised by the veterinarian, because they are not certified. A vet assistant is usually a vet tech student or even a veterinary medicine student.

As far as the pay rate is concerned, you will never get rich from the salary of a vet tech. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary of a vet tech is approximately $34,000. Time, more knowledge and stronger skills will usually result in higher pay.

If you are still interested in becoming a vet tech, you should check out the following video to gain insight into a day in the life of a veterinary technician, and then start calling around to your local schools.

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