The technician sector in the veterinary medical profession in Florida is growing, and the FVMA’s credentialing program for CVTs plays a crucial role in this sector’s development. The FVMA is the largest and oldest credentialing body for veterinary technicians in the state of Florida, and represents over 5,000 members and nearly 80% of the veterinary practices in Florida, who employ talent professionals like you. Certification through the FVMA also grants you affiliate membership through the Florida Association of Credentialed Veterinary Technicians (FACVT).
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.
There are primarily two levels of education and training for entry to this occupation—a 2-year program for veterinary technicians and a 4-year program for veterinary technologists. Most entry-level veterinary technicians have a 2-year degree, usually an associate degree, from an accredited community college program in veterinary technology, in which courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live animals. A few colleges offer veterinary technology programs that are longer and that may culminate in a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. These 4-year colleges, in addition to some vocational schools, also offer 2-year programs in laboratory animal science. Search for schools that provide training for this career.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Texas A & M University’s Bachelor-level Animal Science program is offered at their Kingsville campus in the town of Kingsville, Texas. This is a full, 4-year public college with 13,246 students, of which 74% are undergraduates. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $7,700 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $20,191 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,344, although this varies from program to program.
Texas does not require employees to be certified in order to perform the duties of a veterinary technician. However, many employers in the state prefer or require their employees to be certified through the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Before the Board will issue a license, candidates need to complete a course of study in veterinary technology that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).
Practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, is also often required as part of training for employment as a pharmacy technician. 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. Elsewhere, such as in Tanzania and the United Kingdom, pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the national regulatory council.
The Texas State Board of Pharmacy is the state agency responsible for the licensing/registration of Texas pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacies; for establishing regulations for pharmacy practice; and for disciplining licensees and registrants. Look here for information about the Board's mission, Compact with Texans, policies and guidelines, members, staff, public information reports, statutes, meeting agendas, calendar of events and more.