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Most programs allow students to gain clinical experience during their training. Depending on state laws, students may also choose to gain on-the-job training without enrolling in a postsecondary education program. Clinical experience may take the form of a structured training program at a retail drugstore that has partnered with the school. Another option is to complete hands-on training at an approved pharmacy or medical center.
Vista College’s Associate-level Veterinary Technology program is based at their campus in the city of El Paso. The college has roughly 4,349 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition are about $15,760 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $150, depending on the program chosen.
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.
Your formal training will include laboratory and clinical work with live animals. If you are a high school student who is interested in this field, make sure to take science classes such as biology, as well as math classes. You should also consider volunteering at a veterinarian's office or an animal shelter, where you can get experience and find out if you enjoy working in this environment.
The number of jobs for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to surge between 2016 and 2026. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of about 20 percent. Veterinary medicine is becoming a more advanced field, and qualified vets and vet techs are required for the specialized tasks of treating animals in clinics and animal hospitals. There's also particular demand for vet techs to work in public health, food and animal safety, and national disease control. The BLS attributes this growth to the increasing importance of pets to Americans, along with their willingness to pay for more advanced medical treatments.
Pharmacy technicians work in clean, organized, well-lighted, and well-ventilated areas. Most of their workday is spent on their feet. They may be required to lift heavy boxes or to use stepladders to retrieve supplies from high shelves. Technicians work the same hours as pharmacists. This may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Because some hospital and retail pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, technicians may work varying shifts. As their seniority increases, technicians often have increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.
Since you’ll be required to work with computers, software and financial transactions in your dealings with the public, learning some accounting principles—specifically billing and reimbursement—will come in handy. Consider taking a mathematics course. Understanding patient maintenance software, pharmaceutical software and prescription processing software will also give you an advantage. Learn about data management and take a course in Microsoft Excel to further give yourself an edge.
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