A veterinary technician career is an excellent vocational choice for people who love and want to improve the lives of animals. The fact the patients are animals and not humans doesn’t mean these aren’t medical jobs; they are, and most people consider pets to be members of their family.Not to be confused with the job of veterinary assistant, which requires no formal education, a veterinary technician career requires a college degree and a high level of skill when it comes to working with animals. Veterinarians depend on veterinarian technicians (or VTs) to perform many day-to-day tasks in veterinary clinics; they’re essential parts of the team at these clinics, and without them the veterinarian would have to turn away a great number of animals that wouldn’t get the medical attention they need.
In many ways, a VT is comparable to a nurse in a doctor’s office, and just as nurses do for doctors, VTs perform a very great variety of tasks as part of their job description. They may be the person who talks to pet owners when they bring their pets in, to find out what the symptoms are and record the pet’s medical history. They may find themselves running lab tests, such as blood work or urinalysis on a dog or a cat. At other times, they may take blood samples, work on the pet’s teeth, administer medicine, or develop x-rays. No two days are alike for a VT. One thing VTs can count on is only working with household pets, as veterinary clinics that treat livestock and other large animals generally don’t employ veterinarian technicians. Not all VTs work in veterinary clinics treating pets; some work in veterinary laboratories, or for animal welfare organizations, but these jobs are far less common than employment in a veterinarian’s office.
In order to be a good fit for a veterinary technician career, a person must naturally have a love for pets; this is no job for someone who’s not an animal lover. On the other hand, VTs must be able to develop a thick skin, as they will commonly encounter suffering animals during their work, whether from sickness or abuse. This can be very difficult to deal with on a regular basis, as can euthanizing sick or old animals, which VTs are regularly called on to do. Another factor to keep in mind is that even household pets can be dangerous. Scratches and bites are not uncommon, and some of these can be quite serious.
In order to qualify for a veterinary technician career, a person will need to earn an associate’s degree in veterinary technology from a college program that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. There are a handful of colleges that now offer bachelor’s degrees in veterinary technology, but most new VTs possess the associate’s degree. Upon graduation, the prospective candidate will need to take and pass the rigorous certification exam knowns as the VTNE, which stands for Veterinary Technician National Exam.
Salary prospects are competitive with other careers available to holders of an associate’s degree. As of this writing, the median salary for all VTS is approximately $30,000 a year, with the bulk of VTs earning between $24,000 and $36,000 annually. According to official government projections, job prospects are excellent in the near future, because there simply aren’t enough college programs in veterinary technology to meet the demand in coming years.