What is a veterinary technician?
A veterinary technician is responsible for providing help and first-hand assistance to veterinarians; much like a nurse would do for a physician. They are also referred to as an animal health technologist. Being a vet technician you will need to have excellent communication skills as you will be doing a lot of interacting with coworkers and the pet’s owners. You will also need to have a good understanding of animal behavior, detail oriented, well organized, and strong clinical skills. You must also enjoy working with animals big and small. You should also have the ability to comfort scared animals. Being a veterinarian technician you will always work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Much time the vet tech is the first one to handle the animal on its visit to the veterinarian clinic.
Job description of a veterinary technician
What jobs a veterinary technician would perform on a daily basis will vary. What they do will depend on what the requirements are of the veterinarian they are working for and the work environment. The primary responsibility that a veterinary technician has is to make available all the essentials and equipment that is needed for the treatment of the animals. As a veterinarian technician you may also attend to the customers that come into the office, get their pets ready for whatever treatment they are there to have, and scheduling appointments. When working in the back of the veterinarian office they may do a rough check of the pet to see what is wrong with the pet if it was not brought in for specific treatment, conduct an inquiry with the owner, and do a pre-screening examination to determine what the problem is.
Other duties that a veterinarian technician might perform can include:
- Obtaining the medical history of the animals that have been brought in for treatment if they are a new pet. If the owner is a regular customer of the veterinarian office they will just make notes in the chart as to why the pet is there to see the veterinarian
- Getting the animal along with any equipment and surgical tools that might be needed if the animal is in for an operation.
- Giving the animal anesthesia before the surgery but it will be under the guidance of the veterinarian
- Helping the veterinarian carry out the operation or the treatment for the animal. This includes handing the veterinarian any apparatus or tools that are required during the procedure or treatment.
- Training new employees and the duties that they will have to do such as keeping a detailed record of any treatments or surgeries done, making sure that all the equipment in the setting are maintained in good condition, how to handle all the aspects of inventory like purchasing new supplies, medicine, and daily necessities, and handling the tasks at the front desk.
- Collect samples like blood, urine, or stool for testing
- Carry out test like urinalysis, feline leukemia tests, blood counts.
- Administer medications and vaccines that have been prescribed by the veterinarian
- Guide pet owners on nutrition, general animal care for their pet and medical conditions that the pets have and what to do for them.
- They may also be responsible for washing and grooming the dogs that come into the office for grooming services.
- You may also be required to euthanize an animal so you need to be able to do this if necessary without having an emotional meltdown.
Some veterinarian’s only deal with small animals like dogs and cats while some others will work with large farm animals or a combination of both. In today’s society there are some veterinarians that deal with “exotic animals’ which can include reptiles, birds, rodents, and rabbits. You may be required to help restrain the animals during an examination and surgical procedures. If the veterinarian that you work for treats large animals like horses, cows, and sheep while they go out on-call to the farm to take care of the animals a veterinarian tech may stay behind in the office working in the lab, developing x-rays, and any other duties that might need to be done.
If the veterinarian technician is working in an animal research laboratory then they will have to take care of the animals by making sure the cages are clean, that they feed and water them, and take care of them.
How to become a veterinary technician?
When considering becoming a veterinary technician you should know that it is a 2 year associate program where you will take courses in anesthesiology, animal anatomy, surgical nursing, veterinarian medical terminology, emergency medicine, and hands-on clinical training. The clinical training will be with live animals. When in high school you should make sure that you take biology, math, and general science. When applying to an accredited program you will need either a high school diploma or a GED. There are some of the programs that will require you to take skills assessment exams in math and non-remedial English before they enroll. Some programs may even want you to have some experience working with small or large animals and college level classes in math and biology.
For entry-level veterinarian technicians the most common degree program that is available is The Associate of Science in Veterinarian Technology. When choosing a program make sure that it is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The reason that you want to make sure that the program is accredited will help to ensure that you will get the right training that will enable you to take the necessary credential examinations and pass them. Working as a veterinarian technician is regulated by the state where you work and you may be required to become licensed but most just have the common certification they get after graduating and passing an exam.
To work as a veterinarian technician you will need to take an exam that is regulated by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners but there are many states that used the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. If you are seeking employment in a research facility you can get your certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). After getting your 2 year associate degree you can transfer to a 4 year bachelor’s program and become a veterinary technologist. At this time there are 217 veterinary programs in the United States.
Brown Mackie College is one of the premier veterinarian technician schools in the United States. This college has colleges in various areas of the United States like Akron, Ohio, Albuquerque, New Mexico, St. Louis, Missouri, Boise, Idaho, Louisville, Kentucky, and many others.
There are also several online veterinarian technician programs that you can take online. Some of the online colleges that offer veterinarian technician programs are Jefferson State Community College in Alabama, Cedar Valley College in Texas, Purdue University in Indiana, St. Petersburg College in Florida, and many more.
Work environment and schedule
A veterinary technician does not always work in the office of a veterinarian but could also work in animal research laboratories; private or public zoos, aquariums, kennels, wild life facilities, or anywhere there is a need for treating animals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics state that approximately 91% of all veterinarian technicians’ work in either animal hospitals, other veterinary service outlets, or in veterinarian hospitals. Veterinary technicians may also decide to work at an animal shelter, humane societies, drug and feed companies, and schools. One branch of veterinarian medicine that is not well known is veterinarian dentistry where the veterinarian specializes in caring for the teeth of dogs and cats.
The hours that a veterinarian might work will depend on where they are working. Some work a regular 40 hour week, some may even have to work one or two evenings a week to make it easier on the owners who work during the day, and some may even work half a day on Saturdays. There are some who might be on call 24 hours a day. If you work for a veterinarian that treats horses and other farm animals you may find yourself going out on many calls to the farms with the veterinarian so the owners do not have to bring these large animals to the clinic.
Being a veterinarian technician can be a quite demanding job both emotionally and physically. Depending on the work environment and type of animals you will be working with you could life a 2 pound guinea pig to a 100 pound dog all in the same day or try to wrestle a cow to the ground. Many times you will also be on your feet a lot during your working hours.
Pros and cons of being a Veterinary Technician
The work of a veterinary technician involves the good parts and the bad parts as well. If you consider yourself to be an animal enthusiast, then this job is one of the best choices in this industry. This is because animals cannot talk for themselves you’ll be the one that knows how to discover what they are confronting with.
A career like this involves many times a huge heart, a big amount of compassion and some wise decisions that many times will involve some tough skin from you. Before going on and pursuing this career, you should consider the pros and the cons that are very present.
The payment for these professionals can be very satisfactory, but the long hours worked as a veterinary technician are very demanding. Such long hours mean that physically you have to be remarkably fit to face every situation and keep up with every event. You can get pretty affected by the death of these pets or by owners that don’t seem to care that much or by those who were truly involved.
The danger also comes when you expose yourself to the fur or the pet dander, and this could indeed affect you if you’re not careful. Another con that will rise when working with the pets is the fact that in some situations a pet can feel threatened and for sure it will try to defend. This will involve scratches or bites from their parts and some real and unpredictable situations.
The hours of practice will depend on the type of employer, and according to each one expectation you’ll have to work on night shifts or weekends. The settings in which you can find work will vary, and you’ll find plenty of flexibility and diversity in each one of them. Every day you’ll have different and unique challenges to face and everything is changing on a constant basis.
In this field, you’ll find as well plenty of opportunities for advancement, which will allow you to have increased income and various opportunities of work. You can add two extra years, and you can become a veterinary technologist. This position will grant you the possibility to work in environments such as diagnostic laboratories, biomedical facilities and other.
Veterinary Technician job growth
The job growth for veterinary technicians is predicted at 19%, in the ensuing ten years or so according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is mainly due to an increase advancement in the field of veterinary medicine, allowing more and more qualified professionals such as veterinary technicians to be called to specialized tasks of treating animals in medical facilities such as clinics and animal hospitals.
The future outlook for this job is great mainly due to an increase in the number of pets and lovers of pets in America along with the importance and the willingness attributed by the owners of animals to pay for more advanced medical treatments.
Veterinary technician salary
The veterinary technician salary is not as high as in some other medical professions so if you are looking for a career with a high salary or where you can make a lot of money then this is not the career for you. Getting a position as a veterinarian technician is a highly competitive field so make sure that before you enroll to get a degree to become a veterinarian technician make sure that you have a love animals because if you do get a coveted position as a veterinarian technician you will really have to work to establish yourself. What the average annual salary would be for a veterinarian technician would depend on their work environment and the years working as a veterinarian technician. Another factor in what the salary would be is the geographical location which can make a big difference, as much as $15,000 difference a year.
- $20,000-$30,000 with less than 1 year experience
- $30,000-$45,000 with 1-4 years experience
- $45,000-$60,000 with 5-9 years experience
- $60,000-$65,000 with 10-19 years experience
- $65,000-$70,000 with 20 or more years experience
The top paying states include:
- $39,380 in Alaska
- $37,330 in Virginia
- $37,280 in Connecticut
- $37,150 in New York
- $36,780 in Delaware
Although the average annual veterinary tech salary is on the low side starting out it has improved some compared to the last 19 years. Yes, you could make that much working in a factory, fast food restaurant as a manager, secretary, or other numerous jobs but many people do it because of the love they have for animals.
In addition to the salary there is also the benefit package that could come along with the salary. Just exactly what would be in the benefit package would depend on what work environment you are working in. Basically most benefit packages include paid vacation and sick days, life insurance, health insurance that may cover the family, 401K, pension, social security, pay differential pay if they work nights, or are on-call, paid holidays, stipend on your cell phone bill if you are on-call, and uniforms.
Salary of a Veterinary Technician in 2015
In 2015 in the United States, the salaries of these professionals can be influenced by the type of work and the experience that one possesses. With the opportunities for advancement your salary can increase, a lot faster and the option of a raise is not excluded.
Depending on the location, you’ll see a continuous fluctuation in the salaries. This happens because many of them are influenced based on the highest and lowest points that can be seen according to each state and according to the developed industry in which one is working.
Nowadays there are plenty of well-known employers that offer to those who want to be hired as veterinary technician, great opportunities and very good chances for employment. The median salary for a veterinary technician in 2015 reaches about $28,924 per year.
Veterinary Technician Salary in 2016
In the US, the median wage of a veterinary technician for the year 2016 is estimated at around $30,915 per year. The starting point in the income of these professionals is estimated from $20,629 per year and up to $49,120 per year. The bonuses that are granted reach at around $789 while the profit sharing for these professionals is estimated between $290.88 and $2,074. The commission tends to reach at $2,359, this leading in the end to a total payment that gets situated between $20,938 per year and $40,179 per year, according to the PayScale salary data surveys.
Many of those that are working as Veterinary Technicians are women rather than man. The major factor that impacts and affects this group is the demographic factor-geographical location. Other that are present are the type of employment as well as the years of experience in the field.
When we speak of the geographical location, the national average shown for veterinary technician reaches at $29,445 per year. The best cities for these professionals that offer higher than the national average incomes can be found in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego and other as well. For instance in the crowded New York, the income of these professionals is quoted at a median payment of around $38,224 per year while in Seattle the salary has a median average that goes around $35,200 per year.
A veterinary technician situated at an entry-level in the field with up to five years of experience can expect to receive around $26,010 per year while one with 5 and up to 10 years of working experience will take home around $31,010 per year. Experienced professionals with 10 and up to 20 years can expect at earnings that reach of around $34,010 while those that are in their late-career with more than 20 years will take home earnings that are situated at $35,010 per year.
On the other hand, a certified veterinary technician can expect according to PayScale at a median income of around $30,796 per year with a starting point that goes from $23,862 per year and up to $43,656 per year. The granted bonuses for these professionals tend to reach up at $1000 while the estimated profit sharing reaches at $305.22. This leading at a total payment that is comprised between $23,012 per year and up to $40,009 per year.
Veterinary technician salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- Canada—the average annual salary for a veterinarian technician is CAD$19,551-CAD$48,879.
- Australia—in Australia a veterinary technician is referred to as a veterinary nurse and their average annual salary is AU$25,000-AU$40,000
- UK—the average annual salary is 24,259 pounds and they are also referred to as a veterinarian nurse.
Conclusion on veterinary technician salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the expected growth of job opportunities in this field are excellent and they are predicting a 36% increase in job opportunities from 2008-2018. One of the main reasons for such a high percentage increase of job opportunities is that more and more pet owners are seeking veterinarian services for their pets as the owners become older and all the children have left the nest they start to treat their pets as one of the children. Although the starting salary is on the low side the benefit package can make up for it. It is also not a program that requires you to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree so you will not have all those high student loans to pay off. But if you want to make more money you can further your career by completing a 4 year program to become a veterinarian technologist who has more responsibilities than a veterinarian technician.
- First Published Date: 25 August, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 23 August, 2016