Veterinary assistants support the veterinarian and/or the veterinary technician in their daily tasks. The assistant may be asked to perform kennel work, assist in the restraint and handling of animals, feed and exercise the animals, or spend time on clerical duties. There are training programs for veterinary assistants, and some are trained on the job. At this time, there is no credentialing exam for veterinary assistants.
As you come into the hospital, it may be the veterinary technician who greets you and your pet and escorts you to the exam room. There the technician may listen and make notes while you describe the reason for your pet's visit. S/he may give your pet a physical exam -- look at the pet's eyes and ears, listen to the heart, and take the temperature. All of this information will be passed along to the veterinarian for their evaluation.
“You have a wide variety of equipment to choose…There’s a lot of information to digest, and it’s always changing, but Ryder does a good job of keeping you up to date with the latest manual [and] factory training…We have a very vast knowledge compared to other companies and people in the diesel industry…They’re generally pushing you to obtain your training.”
The Institute for Health Professionals does not provide clinicals or internships for the Pharmacy Technician program. However, PCC’s Career Pathways program does offer internship and clinical opportunities. The cost of Career Pathways’ clinical or internship options are in addition to the Institute for Health Professionals’ registration cost. You arrange this directly with Career Pathways.
Some community colleges require that applicants have at least 16-20 hours of observation in a veterinary hospital in addition to a high school diploma before they may enroll in an associate's degree program for veterinary technology. Students then complete a majority of courses in the core field of study. Veterinary technology topics include animal pharmacology, animal behavior, clinical practices, animal diseases and veterinary hospital management.
Pharmacy technicians’ primary responsibility is dispensing prescription medication, which requires great attention to detail. Pharmacy techs must be able to measure, mix, dose and dispense appropriate amounts of medication based on the pharmacist’s orders. They may also be involved with data entry tasks to update patient records and fill prescription orders.
In the United States, there is no mandated regulatory agency governing the training of Pharmacy Technicians. Each state has a Board of Pharmacy which regulates the licensure of Pharmacy Technicians in their state. Licensure requirements vary widely by state. Some states require training from board-approved schools, PTCB certification, on-the-job training or no requirements at all. There are two National Examinations for the certification of Pharmacy Technicians (PTCE @ www.ptcb.org) (ExCpT @ www.nhanow.com/pharmacy-technician.aspx).
Houston Community College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is based at their campus in the city of Houston, TX. Most of the school’s 58,276 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-district students is likely to be around $1,632 and are $3,360 and $3,756 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost around $3,000, although this will vary with the program.
A pharmacy technician diploma or certificate program can be completed in one year or less and provides the basic education and training needed to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam. These programs introduce students to basic concepts in pharmaceutical technology, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmacology. They typically include a combination of classroom learning and lab training so that students learn how to dispense medication, prepare sterile products, and manage prescription orders.
Practical experience in a veterinary hospital is also often part of the curriculum in an associate's degree program for aspiring veterinary technicians. An externship can be completed during a student's last semester of an associate's degree program for veterinary technology or animal science. However, if there is a high hourly requirement to fulfill this externship, then it is may need to be completed during the summer between the first and second years of enrollment. Externship participants assist veterinarians by taking blood samples, weighing animals and sterilizing surgical instruments. Students learn to handle stressful situations, such as working with difficult animals, and to manage their emotions while completing work in a professional manner.
1. Become a CVPP. When you become a certified veterinary pain practitioner (CVPP), your hospital benefits from a trained and well-educated technician in the field of pain management. While most hospitals are now practicing higher levels of pain control, there’s still much we can do to ensure our patients receive the highest level of pain management possible. (Check out the CVC for great continuing education on pain management topics.)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for pharmacy technicians in 2016 was $30,920, which is $14.86 per hour. Salaries can range depending on where you work. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,370. The highest 10 percent, more than $45,710, with the highest earners typically working in general medical center and surgical hospitals.
Most veterinary technicians are certified by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). In order to qualify for certification, vet techs must complete a two-year degree program at a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association. Some vet techs, especially those looking for clinical research jobs, will go on to get a four-year degree in animal science.
With the appropriate amount of training and experience, pharmacy technicians may be promoted to supervisory roles, may seek specialization (e.g., oncology, nuclear pharmacy), or may pursue further education and training to become a pharmacist. Some technicians gain specialized skills in sterile products admixture, pharmacy automation, and health information systems. An ASHP survey of pharmacy practice managers in August 2009 revealed 56 percent of organizations offer career advancement opportunities for technicians. In an ASHP survey of pharmacy technicians, 81 percent indicated they expect to perform duties of a pharmacy technician for five or more years.
Veterinary technicians in Texas earn a median salary of $28,530 per year. The top earners in this field may command a salary of as much as $38,100 per year. Although the median vet tech salary in Texas is below the national average for this profession ($32,350 per year), this is largely offset by the low cost of living in Texas (9.7 percent below average) and also the moderate cost of housing.
As the job description expands, career opportunities increase, and the outlook for employment as a pharmacy technician is very strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, with a large percentage of the population aging the field is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2026, which is faster than average. This means that now is an excellent time to become a pharmacy technician. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
If you are an aspiring veterinary technician, attend a two-year veterinary technology program that has received accreditation from the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). You will usually earn an associate degree upon completing such a program. Find a list of accredited programs in the United States and Canada on the AVMA website: Veterinary Technology Programs Accredited by the AVMA CVTEA.
Veterinary technologists and technicians handle lab work, radiology, nursing care, surgery assistance and dozens of other tasks related to animal health care. "We do everything except diagnose, prescribe and do surgery," says Julie Legred, a veterinary technician and executive director at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. They often work in private clinics and animal hospitals, assisting veterinarians with the care of animals. While the job might sound like a lot of fun, Legred is quick to point out that "it's not just holding puppies." She adds, "You're not going to make a lot of money, you have to pick up poo and you get peed on." In other words, the work isn't glamorous, so only those with a real commitment to animal care tend to stay in the field.