What is a Veterinary Technician?
Veterinary technicians use the skills and training necessary to prevent illnesses, diagnose conditions, and treat animals. Essentially, they provide aid and assistance to veterinarians, much like nurses provide aid and assistance to physicians and surgeons.
While specific job responsibilities and duties will vary between employers, veterinary technicians generally work in clinics and hospitals for animals and practice under the supervision of a veterinarian. They perform a number of medical tests, and diagnose and treat medical conditions and diseases that animals suffer from. This may include blood and urine tests, dental care, and the preparation of tissue samples.
Like nurses, veterinary technicians record medical histories, take X-rays, provide care, administer medication, and record signs of pain. Veterinary technicians are also responsible for sterilizing tools and equipment used in the laboratory as well as those used during surgery. Additionally, veterinary technicians are responsible for teaching preventive care and awareness to pet owners on preventing common diseases.
How to Become a Veterinary Technician
Those individuals interested in pursuing a career as a veterinary technician should have completed a two-year associate degree training program in veterinary technology, laboratory animal science or a closely related field.
While hiring requirements will likely vary depending on employer and work related experience, most veterinary technicians have a two-year associate degree. These degree programs often include courses taught while working with live animals in clinical laboratory settings. Veterinary technicians should be strong in science, biology, and math and should take as many of these courses as possible to have a great understanding of them.
Additionally, all states require veterinary technicians to pass a credentials exam in order to practice, with specific requirements and licenses varying between states. Some employers will hire trained and inexperienced candidates and put them through on the job training while experienced individuals may be hired and put through shorter training periods.
Veterinary Technician Career Outlook & Salary
Those interested in pursuing a career as a veterinary technician are in luck, as employment is expected to grow much faster than the average occupation and employment opportunities look to be excellent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of veterinary technicians and technologists is expected to grow by 36% over the 2008 to 2018 period, adding more than 28,000 jobs.
As pets become more important to families and begin to become a part of the family, the need to care for them is on the rise. This combined with pet owners becoming more affluent and being able to provide care for their pets, will account largely for the expected increase of veterinary technicians, as trained and skilled technicians and technologists will need to fill the demand for pet care.
The Bureau reported that the median annual wages for veterinary technicians and technologists was $28,900 in May 2008, the latest information available by the Bureau.