Veterinary technicians typically work wherever you find veterinarians — private practices, hospitals, research labs, and zoos. While they are clearly an important part of the professional veterinary team today, this hasn't always been the case. The first "animal technician" program was created in the 1960s, before then, veterinarians hired students or office workers to feed the animals, clean the cages, answer the phone, and do other routine tasks. As the field of animal health became more complex, a need arose for a well-educated staff that could take on greater responsibilities.
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Weatherford College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assisting program is taught at their campus in the town of Weatherford, TX. This public college has approximately 5,613 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,400 and are $3,720 and $5,280 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost roughly $1,200, depending on the program chosen.
Service technicians also use many common hand tools, such as wrenches, pliers, and sockets and ratchets. Service technicians generally own these tools themselves. In fact, experienced workers often have thousands of dollars invested in their personal tool collection. For example, some invest in their own set of pneumatic tools—such as impact wrenches—powered by compressed air.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the accrediting body for pharmacy technician programs. ASHP-certified programs are available at many community colleges and vocational schools. Most certificate programs can be completed within a year or less, while associate degree programs typically take two years to complete. Coursework covers technical and practical training in the following areas:
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5. Teach at a local community college. This is not always the easiest path to take, but it's worthwhile if you enjoy teaching others. Not all states have programs, and those that do tend to hang onto their teachers. So it may be a long process to find a program that's the right fit. Volunteer at local colleges to try to get your foot in the door, or apply with online programs. The more teaching experience you have to go alongside your veterinary technician licensure, the better your chances of obtaining a position. Some programs may also require higher education—some may accept an associate’s degree, while others may require a bachelor’s.
In addition, many states are updating the rules and regulations concerning permitted technician duties. For example, the Idaho Board of Pharmacy recently updated its rules to allow certified pharmacy technicians to administer immunizations, clarify and transfer prescriptions, and take verbal orders, as long as key requirements—national certification and proper training—are met.8
In addition to your training, you can receive extra work experience through internships. In these internships, you’ll be able to apply your course lessons as well as understand the day-to-day routine of a pharmacy. If you’re interested in applying for one, you can start by checking online with popular national drugstores, call your local pharmacies or use your school’s career center if you’re currently enrolled in a pharmacy technician program.
Even though pharmacy tech certification and degree programs require hands-on training, some general coursework can be completed online. Many accredited schools offer online pharmacy tech programs that make it easier for a student taking care of a family or working a full-time job to complete their education. Here are some things to look for when exploring online pharmacy technician schools:
Certification. Even if you don’t wish to sit for the PTCB examination (learn more below), research how well alumni of the program fare on that test. You will want to have the same level of knowledge to best serve your patients and pharmacists. The PTCB awards successful takers a national certification that can give your resume a special distinction.
Medical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. They also may review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.
Tarleton State University’s Bachelor-level Veterinary Technology program is based at their campus in the town of Stephenville, Texas. Of the 11,681 students, about 13% are postgraduates. Fees for tuition for in-state students are in the order of $6,630 and for students from outside the state around $15,990 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,200, depending on the program.
Veterinary Technician Specialists certified by the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians (AIMVT) are an integral part of the Veterinary Healthcare Team. These veterinary technicians have made the extra effort to increase their knowledge in the fields of Cardiology, Large Animal Internal Medicine, Neurology, Oncology, and Small Animal Internal Medicine.
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.
After obtaining technical school education, an associate degree, or work training, the technician may take a certification exam. Exam preparation may also be provided by some employers. Examinations are offered by two certifying bodies. The first is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), which is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The second is the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technician (ExCPT) offered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Upon successful completion of the examination, the candidate is granted certification. The technician must then complete continuing education to maintain certification.
If your pet is to have lab tests run, such as a check for heartworm, a Complete Blood Count (CBC), or a check for parasites, it will be the veterinary technician who takes the appropriate samples and using high tech instruments will document the results for the veterinarian's interpretation. When further testing is required, such as X-rays, the veterinary technician will take the X-rays and deliver them to the veterinarian.
Our AVMA-CVTEA fully accredited Veterinary Technician training program can help you gain the skills to take the first steps towards an exciting new career in the booming field of veterinary technology. In our online veterinary technician school, you'll study a wide range of topics and gain real-world vet technician experience during the clinical externship portions of the program. Plus, our online courses allow you to earn your associate degree and prepare for the VTNE exam at home or on the go, and study on your schedule.
In early 2017, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) held a national stakeholder meeting to develop industrywide consensus on qualifications and standards for advanced practice and entry-level technicians.4 Attendees drafted recommendations for the advanced practice certification, education, entry-level requirements, and regulation of technicians. As a result of this meeting, the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the PTCB have implemented more stringent and uniform requirements regarding certification, education, and continuing education for technicians, with new standards for ACPE accreditation and PTCB certification taking effect in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively.5,6 The PTCB has also developed a second certification program focused specifically on sterile compounding.7
A degree program is generally two years and results in a full academic degree, an associate’s degree (AA), that will distinguish your credentials and provide a foundation on which to build. That is, when you complete an AA, you will have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a full, four-year degree later on. Even if you never return to college again, having a full degree will be worthwhile. The additional courses will inform you as a person and professional, expanding your ability to communicate and understand your patients.
Completing a vocational or other postsecondary education program in automotive service technology is considered the best preparation for entry-level positions. Programs usually last 6 months to a year and provide intensive career preparation through classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Short-term certificate programs in a particular subject, such as brake maintenance or engine performance, are also available.
Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. They generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may perform laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although some of their work is done in a laboratory setting, many technicians also talk with animal owners. For example, they explain a pet’s condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Technicians' additional training allows them to perform tasks that include administering anesthesia, and medicating and vaccinating animals. Assistants feed and bathe animals, prepare examination and operating rooms, and may also perform clerical duties. State laws regulate what those working in each occupation are permitted to do. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website provides a state-by-state guide to specified duties of assistants and technicians.
In England, Scotland and Wales, since 1 July 2011, qualified Pharmacy Technicians have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (formerly the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain) to practise and call themselves a Pharmacy Technician. The title 'Pharmacy Technician' is a protected title and requires the user to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council. A Pharmacy Dispenser cannot call themselves or work as a Pharmacy Technician or register with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
possession of associate degree in Pharmacy Technology OR Any other course that provides a minimum of 240 hours of instruction as specified in Title 16 California Code of Regulation section 1793.6(c) OR A training course accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) OR Graduation from a school of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE);
Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. In 2016, there were 221 veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate’s degree for veterinary technicians. Twenty-one colleges offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Veterinary technicians must have excellent communication skills, so that they may interact with pet owners and coworkers. They must have an understanding of animal behavior and strong clinical skills in order to properly evaluate an animal's condition and provide treatment. They must be detail-oriented and well-organized so that they may take medical histories, carry out instructions, document patient statistics and update records. It's also essential that they enjoy working with animals and have the ability to comfort, handle and restrain large and small pets.
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.
In the United Kingdom, a Pharmacy Technician now must complete a recognised accredited training program with vocational training to SVQ/NVQ level 3 in Pharmacy Services as well as an academic underpinning knowledge program such as BTEC or National Certificate (NC) Pharmacy Services. In addition a minimum period of time of working as a trainee Pharmacy Technician is needed before final qualification and compulsory registration is required before commencing work as a Pharmacy Technician. Pharmacy Technicians may counsel patients on their medication (under the supervision or direction of a pharmacist, though counselling is not one of the learning outcomes for pharmacy technician training) as well as general dispensing of prescriptions. In community pharmacy, it has been recognised that the role is difficult to distinguish from that of a dispensing assistant with an NVQ2 qualification. Additional training is available to qualified Pharmacy Technicians and can include accuracy checking of dispensed prescriptions (though there is no legal requirement that a person be qualified as a pharmacy technician before undertaking an accuracy checking course), Medicines Management (Hospital or PCT), participation in the running of hospital clinics such as anticoagulant clinics, dosing Warfarin patients under dose banding guidance, or other higher duties traditionally done by Pharmacists.
The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians in 2014 was $29,810, although this varies by state. Pharmacy technicians in Washington, Alaska, California, Hawaii and Oregon are the highest earners, on average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the highest-paying positions are available with federal, state and local government agencies, outpatient care centers, and scientific research and development organizations. Pharmacy techs that work in department stores and health and personal care stores typically make lower annual wages.
Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.