Those with a love for animals can find a rewarding career as a veterinary technician. Also known as vet techs, individuals working in this field assist veterinarians with the care of animals brought into their practice.
They also can help answer questions that owners have when they bring their pet in for treatment.
To become a practicing vet tech, prospective students must first obtain the proper training from vet tech trade schools. Typically, students must have a two-year degree.
However, larger organizations such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture may require more education. In addition to classroom learning, individuals will get
Below are some online AVMA-accredited vet tech courses that also include hands-on training in a clinical setting.
- Pima Medical Institute
- Jefferson County Joint Vocational School
- New England Institute of Technology
- Central Coast College
- International Business College
- Charter College
- Ashworth College
- Carrington College
- City College
- Miller-Motte College
- Penn Foster College
- YTI Career Institute
- Ross Medical Education Center
- Vista College
How Much Does it Cost?
While specific education costs naturally depend on your individual education pathway, location, and other external factors, associate degree program costs for vet techs typically range from $7500 to $8000 for a 4-semester program.
Similar careers, such as a pharmacy tech, average from $10,000 to $25,000 for a two-year program, making the vet tech position far more accessible and affordable.
How Long Does it Take?
For those seeking a more accelerated path, many programs provide fast track options, condensing the required duration to approximately 3 years.
The average duration of education for vet techs sits at around 4 years for a comprehensive training program. However, it is important to note that this duration can change to fit individual circumstances.
What Will You Study?
An education program for vet techs will typically cover a variety of topics to efficiently prepare students for a starting position as a vet tech. These topics may include the following:
- Anatomy and Physiology: Understanding fundamentals of animal anatomy and physiology. This includes the basics of biology for small and large animals, effectively preparing students for work with a range of species.
- Communication Skills: Outlining possible supporting positions in veterinary practices, as well as expectations regarding client communication, recordkeeping and filing, and facility care and maintenance.
- Nursing & Clinical Pathology: Understanding basics of emergency care, sample collection, performing diagnostic exams and procedures, and various types of pathogens.
- Surgical Assisting: Comprehending basics of surgical assisting, including sterilizing equipment, monitoring animal patients in surgery, and utilizing anesthesia.
- Preparation for National Exam: Preparing to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) required to become a vet tech in all states.
Overall, education programs for vet techs equip students with a diverse skill set needed for a successful start in the field.
Benefits of Taking a Course
Enrolling in an education program is overall integral to success as a vet tech. All prospective vet techs are required to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Passing this exam is required to receive certification as a vet tech regardless of state of residency or practice. As such, it is vital for those interested in the field to properly prepare for the exam, effectively done by enrolling in a course.
Beyond exam readiness, these programs add to a much deeper understanding of the job’s expectations and responsibilities. Many offer priceless hands-on experience, often allowing students to work in veterinary practices through externships, making entry-level vet techs with this kind of experience highly attractive applicants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a vet tech was $37,000 at veterinary practices.
Vet techs employed at larger facilities, such as universities, may receive up to $47,000 annually.
Vet techs who transition to more advanced positions, including managerial roles, can earn between $46,000 and $61,000.
National Licenses & Requirements
Regardless of state of residency or employment, all potential vet techs are required to become certified by passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
The exam spans topics essential for entry-level vet tech positions and evaluates knowledge and skills required for various aspects of work as a vet tech. It is offered in three exam windows throughout the year, so planning far ahead for the exam is essential for success.
Beyond the national license, individual practices may require applicants to have completed additional training, such as clinical externships and/or apprenticeships. These are often offered as part of many vet tech education programs.
Becoming a vet tech is exceptionally opportune now more than ever – in the next decade, the career’s growth rate is expected to be around 20%. This statistic is significantly larger than nearly all other similar careers and 15% higher than the national average.
As you gain experience, advancement opportunities such as specialization in areas like surgery or emergency care, supervisory roles, or even research and education positions will arise.
Additionally, with medical technology continuing to become more advanced, opportunities for more specialized vet tech positions will only continue to increase.
If you want to become a vet tech, here are some more things you might want to know.
Vet Tech Training Requirements
To enter an associate degree program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. Depending on the institution’s admissions guidelines, you may also need to take the ACT or SAT to be accepted by your school.
Proficiency in science, math, or biology is a plus. Working or volunteering in health care or with a local animal shelter or vet clinic can also help prepare future vet techs for their coursework and career.
What Do They Do?
A vet tech assists in several ways. Technicians perform the initial exam of the animal when it’s brought in, observing and reporting on its condition. They take the animal’s vital signs, draw blood, and get its medical history. Vet techs also perform x-rays, assist in research, and prep the animals for surgery.
Another role of a veterinary technician is to speak and interact with animal owners. This can involve everything from getting the pet’s medical history to explaining how to administer a certain medication. Vet techs can also educate the owners on how to properly care for an animal if it requires any special assistance once it leaves the facility.
Job Duties & Responsibilities
Depending on the office, a vet tech can be responsible for the grooming and bathing of the animals when they’re brought in to help ensure proper sanitation.
Some of the things this can involve are:
- Brushing and cutting hair
- Clipping of nails and claws
- Restraining animals during exams and procedures
- Administering anesthesia
- Taking and process x-rays
- Performing lab tests, such as urinalysis
- Sterilizing and prep instruments for surgery
Skills a Vet Tech Should Have
Obviously, vet techs should be comfortable working with animals. Since those in this position will be involved with different animals in a number of aspects, such as giving first aid, administering exams and grooming, these workers will spend a good portion of their day hands-on with clients.
Workers in this profession must also be able to communicate effectively. Being able to properly explain the conditions of a certain animal to a coworker or pet owner is very important.
Also, a vet tech will need to be able to quickly and correctly understand instructions from the vet throughout the day.
Vets techs will also want to have good organizational skills. With so many different aspects to the job, veterinary technicians need to make sure each animal is getting the care that they came in for.
Vet techs will take samples, administer different medications, and read from charts. If they’re disorganized, the patient could get the wrong treatment by mistake.
How Do Veterinary Technicians Maintain Their Workspace?
A vet tech maintains their workspace by keeping it clean and organized. In waiting rooms, vet techs can clean up fur and accidents from nervous animals coming in to the practice. Additionally, with different testing, grooming regiments, and treatments throughout the day, technicians can find themselves cleaning and sanitizing after every appointment.
Why Do Vet Techs Need to Have Patience?
Patience is also very important to a vet tech. Some animals will come into the office scared, excited or even undisciplined. It is their job to remain calm and focused in order to properly handle each situation that comes their way. Vet techs will also need patience when dealing with angry and upset pet owners, as well.