Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. Technologists usually need a 4-year bachelor’s degree, and technicians need a 2-year associate’s degree. Typically, both technologists and technicians must take a credentialing exam and become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the requirements of the state in which they work.
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.
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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.
Other pharmacy technicians enter the occupation after completing postsecondary education programs in pharmacy technology. These programs are usually offered by vocational schools or community colleges. Most programs award a certificate after 1 year or less, although some programs last longer and lead to an associate’s degree. They cover a variety of subjects, such as arithmetic used in pharmacies, recordkeeping, ways of dispensing medications, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also learn the names, uses, and doses of medications. Most programs also include clinical experience opportunities, in which students gain hands-on experience in a pharmacy.
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.
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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.
Apart from a degree in veterinary technology, veterinary technicians also need to obtain credentials from the state they work in. They also need to have strong communication skills, be well organized, and have a passion for helping animals. Most veterinary technicians work in veterinary clinics or offices, although some find work at animal shelters and zoos.
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:
Vet Tech Institute of Houston’s Associate-level Veterinary Technology program is taught at their campus in the city of Houston. Most of the school’s 216 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. The cost of tuition is, as a rough guide, in the order of $14,200 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $934, depending on the program chosen.
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.
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.
Two organizations offer certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification requires a high school diploma and the passing of an exam. Applicants for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and have completed a training program or have 1 year of work experience. Technicians must recertify every 2 years by completing 20 hours of continuing education courses.
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.
Helping a pharmacist dispense prescription medication might seem like an easy task, but it requires immense precision and detail. Pharmacy technicians ensure medications are filled correctly in a specified window of time. Unlike pharmacists, pharmacy technicians are not the sole dispensers of medication. They mostly assist in measuring, mixing, counting and labeling dosages of medications. Also, pharmacy technicians don't typically advise patients on proper medication dosages and side effects the way a pharmacist does.
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