Clinics and animal hospitals have increased their use of vet techs to provide general care and lab work. This demand has led to a much faster than average projected job growth through 2026. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that veterinarians are employing veterinary technologists and technicians instead of veterinary assistants because of their higher skill level.
Veterinary technologists and technicians earn two- or four-year degrees in veterinary technology. While they share many of the same responsibilities, technologists typically hold four-year bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology, whereas technicians hold two-year associate degrees. They must also pass an exam and become certified, licensed or registered, depending on the state. Strong science and math backgrounds are essential, Legred says, since much of the job involves drug calculations and lab tests.
Getting a credential, such as the Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT), or the Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT)—which are commonly bundled under the umbrella term credentialed veterinary technician by the administering National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America—can enhance your career and provide more opportunity for advancement.
In a clinical practice setting, such as your local veterinary hospital, veterinary technicians handle many of the same responsibilities that nurses and other professionals perform for physicians – and, like veterinarians, they are trained to work with several species of animals. They are trained to: obtain and record patient case histories; collect specimens and perform laboratory procedures; provide specialized nursing care; prepare animals, instruments, and equipment for surgery; assist in diagnostic, medical, and surgical procedures; expose and develop radiographs (x-rays); advise and educate animal owners; supervise and train practice personnel; and perform dental prophylaxes.
Technologists typically need a four-year bachelor’s degree whereas veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year degree. Earning an associate’s degree can be a good first step into the field. It allows you to enter the workforce sooner and quickly learn entry-level job duties. If you decide to pursue more education, you’ll find your responsibilities as a veterinary technologist will be more advanced.
The scientific aspects of the job aren't the only things that vet techs need to prepare for, however. Tear says the hardest part of working as a technician is dealing with the relatively short lifespan of animals. “Our patients live anywhere from five to 15 years,” she says, “so there’s quite a bit of grief.” Another challenge is getting by on the salary, which, on average, skews quite a bit lower than comparable jobs in human medicine. “This isn’t a career you go into for the money," Tear adds.
Technicians work the same hours that pharmacists work. These may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays, particularly in facilities that are open 24 hours a day such as hospitals and some retail pharmacies. As their seniority increases, technicians often acquire increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.
The growth of pharmacists’ roles across health care settings has led to the need for a comparable evolution in the responsibilities and roles of pharmacy technicians. Traditionally, technician tasks have focused on cashiering, insurance claim processing, medication preparation, and order entry, usually within a community or hospital setting. Advancement opportunities have been limited to lead technician or supervisory roles, medication and supply purchasing, and sterile products compounding because of a lack of promotion opportunities.
Texas A & M University’s Bachelor-level Animal Science program is offered at their Kingsville campus in the town of Kingsville, Texas. This is a full, 4-year public college with 13,246 students, of which 74% are undergraduates. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $7,700 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $20,191 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,344, although this varies from program to program.
Some veterinary technicians decide to specialize in a certain area. According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), an academy is a group of veterinary technicians who have received formal, specialized training, testing and certification in an area. The recognized academies include specialties in dental technology, anesthesia, internal medicine, emergency and critical care, behavior, zoological medicine, and equine veterinary nursing.
Take Daniel Rau, a former Marine sergeant who returned from active duty in 2008, after two years as a comms technician and three years protecting embassies in India, Japan, and Yemen. — Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Thank You For Your Service. Now What?," 17 Oct. 2018 With over 1,300 medical, operational, and regulatory experts, technicians and supporting services working in the same facilities, communication and collaboration are greatly enhanced. — Jessica Levy, Cincinnati.com, "Medpace speeds the advancement of safe, effective medical therapeutics," 8 June 2018 In addition to local authorities, a state hazardous material technician and postal inspectors also responded, police said. — David Owens, courant.com, "White Powder In Piece Of Mail Disrupts ESPN's Bristol Campus," 7 June 2018 CONSTRUCTION Horizon Retail Construction, Sturtevant, hired Raul Luis Antonio as an information technology helpdesk technician and Brooke Barlow as an assistant project manager. — Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New hires, promotions at Wisconsin companies," 7 June 2018 In the end, a team of almost 25 Danbury clinicians — including surgeons, cardiologists, gynecologists, physician’s assistants, anesthesiologists, nurses, operating room technicians and office staff — worked together to develop a treatment plan. — Jamie Ducharme, Time, "A Connecticut Woman Had a 132-Pound Ovarian Tumor Removed," 4 May 2018 Other experts included anesthetists, pediatricians, lab technicians, and backups in case anyone couldn't make it for the birth. — Megan Friedman, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Kate Middleton Left the Hospital So Quickly After Giving Birth," 23 Apr. 2018 More than 20m people recently applied for 100,000 railway jobs, as train drivers, technicians and porters. — The Economist, "India’s economy is back on track. Can it pick up speed?," 28 Mar. 2018 Graduates can land a number of utility jobs such substation technicians and equipment operators, according to the college website. — Jason Ruiter, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Puerto Rican receives training in growing lineworker field, hopes to return to help restore power," 20 Mar. 2018