If you are interested in earning a vet tech degree, but can’t travel to an on-site institution, then you needn’t give up hope. With an online vet tech degree, you can further your education without having to significantly disrupt your normal schedule. For online students, a less specialized degree in business or science could also be a good segueway into a career in the animal care or veterinary industry. Vet techs assist veterinarians with everything from x-rays to soothing an animal and preparing it for a procedure. Veterinary technicians can obtain an associates or bachelor degree and must also obtain certification in order to work.
What is a Veterinary Technician?
Veterinary technicians work with veterinarians at an animal clinic or sanctuary environment. It is a fast growing industry that’s expected to rise 36% through 2018. You will have to pass an exam that covers all of the basics of veterinary tech work such as animal nursing, surgery prep, laboratory procedures and pharmacology. This exam is called the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) and passing this exam is essential for working at any animal hospital or clinic.
Internship hours are also a requirement to become a veterinary technician. The number of hours varies by state. Some veterinary tech programs are set up by the school. Veterinary tech is a popular online degree and in these cases, you may have to find your own animal hospital or clinic to intern with. It is important for you to find out whether the school will set up your clinicals because this gives you time to seek out a vet clinic willing to let you come in and shadow a tech on the job. Try to find a position where you will be exposed to all vet tech responsibilities include surgery prep and dental work. This allows you observe the daily duties of a vet tech. Here are some common degrees associated with becoming a veterinary technician:
After graduating, consider joining the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). This will give you networking opportunities and let you interact with those who already work as vet technicians to get a feel for what the job market is like throughout your region. NAVTA offers continuing education for veterinary technicians. Conferences are held annually to educate vet technicians on the latest developments and techniques being used in the field.
What are the typical job duties of a veterinary technician?
Where you work will determine your specific job duties. Vet techs handle daily animal care, but also assist with office work such as answering phones, faxing, filing, and special projects. Veterinarians rely on techs to keep pace with patient volume. Additionally, vet techs are needed for pre-operative examinations.
According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET Online), vet techs typically perform the following duties:
- Observe the behavior and condition of animals and monitor their clinical symptoms.
- Maintain controlled drug inventory and related log books.
- Administer anesthesia to animals, under the direction of a veterinarian, and monitor animals’ responses to anesthetics so that dosages can be adjusted.
- Care for and monitor the condition of animals recovering from surgery.
- Perform laboratory tests on blood, urine, or feces, such as urinalyses or blood counts, to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of animal health problems.
- Administer emergency first aid, such as performing emergency resuscitation or other life-saving procedures.
- Fill prescriptions, measuring medications and labeling containers.
Vet technicians who specialize in an area such as equine, critical care, dentistry or internal medicine will have more job opportunities than those who have only general experience caring for animals. Vet technicians will have opportunity for advanced positions working in a specialized area such as wildlife. There are many job openings for vet techs at sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers. You will most likely have to relocate to take advantage of these job openings unless you have an animal sanctuary nearby.
The average salary for a veterinary technician is about $29,000 per year. This goes up substantially for vet techs that specialize in a certain area and can offer specialized care to animals in need. Those working with equine and wildlife animals can make up to $45,000 per year.
Where do veterinary technicians work?
Veterinary technicians often find work at animal clinics and hospitals, zoos, and other animal care facilities. Depending on your area of interest, you can work in rural and remote communities. Farmer and other animal handlers require the services of vets and vet techs to treat livestock and other animals. Clinics in larger cities need vet techs to help run humane and adoption centers.
Below you’ll find descriptions of the most popular facilities that employ vet techs:
A veterinary technician most often works at an animal clinic. In this setting, you help the vet with anything he or she needs regarding caring for the animal. You also help prepare animals for surgery or other procedures. Veterinary technicians working at an animal clinic typically stay at their jobs for a long duration of time. They may also be promoted to head vet tech if the animal clinic expands and hires an additional tech. Many small animal clinics operate with only one vet tech on staff.
Wildlife sanctuary often hire vet techs to aid the vets and sanctuary staff on a regular basis with sick animals. Wildlife sanctuaries are often located in rural areas. Finding a job at a wildlife sanctuary may be difficult because you will have to call around or search the Internet for openings. You may also have to travel to the sanctuary for an interview with the sanctuary director and the vet staff.
Zoos are often the work place of choice for veterinary technicians. This is because they allow you to perhaps work close to home while learning about and treating exotic animals. You will not have to relocate as you might for a sanctuary or rehabilitation job, but you still put your exotic animal expertise to use and are paid accordingly. Working in a zoo for awhile is also a great way to gain experience with exotic animals. After this, you may seek additional certification for working with exotic animals and have the opportunity to move to a wildlife sanctuary.