2. Become a technician specialist. Whether you focus on clinical practice or specialize in a more focused area like surgery, dentistry or rehabilitation, you can bring knowledge and exceptional skills to general practice. Along with standardizing our title to registered veterinary nurse, specialties help us take our careers to the next level by demonstrating our commitment to high-quality medicine, patient health and nursing. You can learn more about the specialty options here or here.
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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.
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 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.
The final competition consists of 10 rigorous, hands-on skill tests including vehicle electronics, preventive maintenance, and air conditioning. The title of “Top Tech,” along with a cash prize, is awarded to the first place winner. All seven finalists receive cash prizes for their exemplary performance. Each year’s top seven finalists go on to represent Team Ryder at the TMC SuperTech National Technician Skills Competition, where they compete against the industry’s best technicians.