In honor of National Veterinary Technicians Week, Vetstreet is doing a series of articles that highlight the work of these veterinary professionals who play such a vital role in the well being of our pets. Our first piece, by Dr. Marty Becker, Time To Sing Out for Vet Techs, the Unsung Heroes of Animal Care, talks about some of the ways that vet techs take care of both human clients and animal ones. In this article, we cover more of the nuts and bolts of the important role.

NAVTA defines a society as a group of veterinary technicians who represent a distinct and identifiable specialty, supported by a veterinary specialty. Members may or may not have received formal training and may or may not be certified in that specialty. Members of a society may go on to become members of an academy if they meet the requirements of the academy. NAVTA currently recognizes veterinary technician societies specializing in the fields of behavior, equine veterinary technology, zoo veterinary technology, and emergency and critical care.
“You have a wide variety of equipment to choose…There’s a lot of information to digest, and it’s always changing, but Ryder does a good job of keeping you up to date with the latest manual [and] factory training…We have a very vast knowledge compared to other companies and people in the diesel industry…They’re generally pushing you to obtain your training.”

The PTCB, Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, has enacted a plan to require an ASHP (American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists) certified Pharmacy Technician education program by the year 2020.[9] This is a hotly debated issue, as training schools have come under great scrutiny regarding the issuance of Title IV loans.[10] According to RxTechExam.com, all that is required to become a Nationally Certified Pharmacy Technician is:

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.

Registered Pharmacy Technicians in the NHS are responsible for the training and development of Pharmacy Support Workers; Senior Pharmacy Support Workers and Pre-Registration Trainee Pharmacy Technicians. Further training and qualifications after initial registration as a RPhT enable them to perform this mentoring role. Pharmacy Technicians in the UK (as with other countries e.g. Canada) are now referred to by some as professionals, although Registered Pharmacists are obviously considered experts in the Pharmaceutical field and RPhTs are subordinate to Pharmacists. The reference to pharmacy technicians as professionals has been subject to challenge.[21]

There's ample need for pharmaceutical support professionals capable of filling prescription medications quickly and efficiently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 12 percent between 2016 and 2026 – faster than the average growth rate for all occupations – and during that period, 47,600 new positions will need to be filled. "There's a tremendous amount of demand as the baby boomer population is aging and taking more and more medications, and with all the new prescription drugs that are being approved and consumed by Americans, there is a great amount of growth and increase in the pharmacy sector," Johnston says.
Pharmacy techs must have strong attention to detail, as the majority of their daily tasks involve measuring, dosing and dispensing prescription medication according to very specific orders. They must also have good written and verbal communication skills to communicate effectively with the pharmacists they work with, patients, and medical professionals or medical representatives they come into contact with.
Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of a licensed pharmacist to dispense medication and provide information to customers. Pharmacy technicians typically work behind a pharmacy counter at a drugstore, grocery store, hospital, nursing home or other medical facility. This position involves working with pharmacists, patients and occasionally with pharmaceutical reps.
The structure of online pharmacy technician courses usually follows a “module” setup, where each section is its own module, most likely followed by an exam that you must pass to be sent the next module. Another program structure is called “distance learning.” If your program is labeled as such, you will have correspondence with your school via mail, email or online. There may be instances where your program requires that you attend certain classes on campus or at another convenient campus location.
The population is aging, and older people typically use more prescription medicines than younger people. Higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes among all age groups also will lead to increased demand for prescription medications. Advances in pharmaceutical research will allow for more prescription medications to be used to fight diseases.
In Colombia, Pharmacy Technicians are known as Pharmacy Regency Technologists, erroneously called Pharmacy Regents. They graduate of several universities after three years of training. This occupation appeared due to the lack of pharmacists in Colombia, that is why they are commonly confused with pharmacists. The Pharmacy Regency Technicians in Colombia are regulated and monitored by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.
Bad breath? As you may know, your pet can have bad breath due to a number of oral hygiene abnormalities. The veterinary technician in most hospitals will be able to discuss with you the causes of bad breath and ways to treat the problem. Just like the dental hygienist that you may visit, s/he has been trained to clean your pet's teeth using a machine called an ultrasonic cleaner.  The veterinary technician will also evaluate your pet's teeth, taking any concerns she may have to the veterinarian. 

In the National Health Service (NHS) Pharmacy Technicians work under the direct supervision of a Senior/ Specialist Pharmacy Technician and is accountable to the Chief Pharmacy Technician/ Lead Pharmacist even if not in a dispensary and work mainly in one of two areas, hospital pharmacy and community pharmacy.[18] Some also work in Doctors' general practices and in primary care trusts.

The structure of online pharmacy technician courses usually follows a “module” setup, where each section is its own module, most likely followed by an exam that you must pass to be sent the next module. Another program structure is called “distance learning.” If your program is labeled as such, you will have correspondence with your school via mail, email or online. There may be instances where your program requires that you attend certain classes on campus or at another convenient campus location.
The Associate’s degree program at Austin Community College District is taught at their campus in the city of Austin. The majority of of the school’s 40,949 students are on 2-year programs. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,550 and are $9,210 and $11,340 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,200, although this will vary with the program.
Mail order pharmacies present an opportunity to service a wider range of customers than local community pharmacies. For the pharmacy technician, this translates into good pay, benefits and the possibility of a flexible work schedule. Perhaps the most solitary of the three workplaces, mail order is great if you’re looking for pharmacy technician jobs where you can work independently or behind-the-scenes.
Veterinary technicians in Texas earn a median salary of $28,530 per year. The top earners in this field may command a salary of as much as $38,100 per year. Although the median vet tech salary in Texas is below the national average for this profession ($32,350 per year), this is largely offset by the low cost of living in Texas (9.7 percent below average) and also the moderate cost of housing.

Some community colleges require that applicants have at least 16-20 hours of observation in a veterinary hospital in addition to a high school diploma before they may enroll in an associate's degree program for veterinary technology. Students then complete a majority of courses in the core field of study. Veterinary technology topics include animal pharmacology, animal behavior, clinical practices, animal diseases and veterinary hospital management.
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.

The ACVIM is also dedicated to providing veterinary technicians with cutting-edge learning opportunities at the ACVIM Forum.  Whether you are highly experienced or a newcomer to veterinary medicine, you'll have opportunities to communicate with internationally-known leaders in the field and learn about the most informative and educational advances in veterinary care through sessions specifically targeting veterinary technicians.
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:

There are many pharmacy technician jobs available in community pharmacies such as the ones you find in your local grocery or drug store. Working in community pharmacies means working with people. If you like an active environment where keeping customers happy and comfortable is important, pharmacy technician jobs in community pharmacies offer some great advancement opportunities.
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.
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.
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.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 75% of pharmacy technicians in the U.S. work in a retail setting,[2] such as an independently owned drugstore, a mass retailer chain, or a mail-order or online pharmacy. An additional 16% of pharmacy technician jobs were in hospitals,[2] while others worked for nursing homes, pharmaceutical wholesalers, or the Federal Government. To work in any of these settings, certain requirements must be met. Requirements vary by state.[22]


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)[17] 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,[citation needed] or other higher duties traditionally done by Pharmacists.
In the National Health Service (NHS) Pharmacy Technicians work under the direct supervision of a Senior/ Specialist Pharmacy Technician and is accountable to the Chief Pharmacy Technician/ Lead Pharmacist even if not in a dispensary and work mainly in one of two areas, hospital pharmacy and community pharmacy.[18] Some also work in Doctors' general practices and in primary care trusts.
People who love animals get satisfaction from working with and helping them. However, some of the work may be unpleasant, physically and emotionally demanding, and sometimes dangerous. Veterinary technicians sometimes must clean cages and lift, hold, or restrain animals, risking exposure to bites or scratches. These workers must take precautions when treating animals with germicides or insecticides. The work setting can be noisy.
A pharmacy technician diploma or certificate program can be completed in one year or less and provides the basic education and training needed to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam. These programs introduce students to basic concepts in pharmaceutical technology, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmacology. They typically include a combination of classroom learning and lab training so that students learn how to dispense medication, prepare sterile products, and manage prescription orders.
Practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, is also often required as part of training for employment as a pharmacy technician.[4][7] Many employers favor pharmacy technicians to be certified with a national or local pharmacy board, such as by passing a standard exam and/or paying a fee. In the United States, voluntary certification is available through many private organizations.[2] Elsewhere, such as in Tanzania and the United Kingdom, pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the national regulatory council.
Pharmacy technicians must take the lead in educating themselves on drug information and any major changes occurring in the industry. They may be required to read about drug studies, review pharmaceutical literature or produce reports about different prescription medications and dispensing activities. Since many work in busy retail drugstores or emergency rooms, they must also have strong organizational skills and be able to work in a fast-paced environment without making mistakes.
Pima Medical Institute offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are based at their Houston campus in the city of Houston. The majority of of the school’s 993 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Tuition fees for the Vet Tech program are likely to be in the order of $12,024 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $743. Program completion is usually 8 months.

A. Skills covered in the Veterinary Technician Associate Degree Program include fundamentals of pharmacy and pharmacology, nursing, anesthesia, surgical nursing, labroratory procedures, imaging, laboratory animal procedures, avian, exotic, small mammal, and fish procedures, and other veterinary basics. College level courses also build a well-rounded skill set in areas such as computer and information literacy, written and interpersonal skills, humanities, liberal arts, math, and sciences.

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.
Most technicians are certified — the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is earned by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) — and have completed several hundred hours of on-the-job training in order to be able to work with different prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and abide by ethical standards. Basic job duties include dosing medications and filling prescription orders, taking care of administrative tasks, and handling basic customer service duties at the counter. Some pharmacy techs lead a team of pharmacy staff members as a lead pharmacy technician. Others may be responsible for managing supply and inventory or providing pertinent information to other healthcare professionals.
A pharmacy technician is a health care provider who performs pharmacy-related functions, generally working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations (usually in community, retail, and hospital pharmacies), but can also work for long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, third-party insurance companies, computer software companies, or in government or teaching. Job duties include dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients and instructing on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with doctor's offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment is received.

Texas is a huge employer of veterinary technicians, leading the country with approximately 8,870 vet techs as of 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, the profession is growing rapidly in the state, with a 27.6 percent projected job growth rate between 2012 and 2022. This could equate to an increase of nearly 2,500 jobs by 2022. [Leer en español]


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.
As a laboratory technician on assignment with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) you might manage the laboratory associated with a tuberculosis treatment program, training the technicians you supervise in sputum microscopy. Alternatively, you might find yourself tasked with establishing a laboratory facility, introducing quality control to an HIV laboratory, or testing people for sleeping sickness in an outdoor mobile clinic.
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