How Do I Become a Vet-tech?

If you enjoy working with animals and excel at science, you might be wondering how to become a vet-tech. Veterinarians practice medicine in the animal population, just as doctors and physicians practice medicine in the human population. Vet-techs, or veterinary technicians and technologists, are a crucial component of the animal healthcare industry. They help veterinarians prepare for and perform procedures, administer treatments and medications under the supervision of a veterinarian and educate human caretakers. Vet-techs find employment in research positions and in animal clinics and hospitals, where they interact with both animals and their owners.

Vet-techs monitor and report animals’ health conditions and behavior. In an emergency situation, they may be called on to administer first aid care. Vet-techs get dogs, cats and other animal patients ready for medical procedures, up to and including surgeries. They may be in charge of preparing examinations rooms and surgical equipment. Vet-techs gather specimens such as blood and urine for testing and conduct the tests. They use medical technologies such as X-ray equipment. They provide medication to sick or injured animals and give vaccinations to help keep animals healthy.

With less education, veterinary technicians typically work in animal hospitals and clinics and have fewer independent job responsibilities. They help veterinarians working directly with animals, perform laboratory testing and educate human caretakers on their pets’ medical conditions. Veterinary technologists may have more advanced job duties in clinical settings, and they are more likely to work in higher-paying research positions.

Aspiring vet-techs should begin preparing for their careers by taking as many science and mathematics courses in high school as possible. Vet-techs then attend a college program in veterinary technology accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinary technicians only need to complete a two-year associate’s degree program, while veterinary technologists must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Upon completing these educational requirements, vet-techs must obtain a license, registration or certification as required by the state in which they intend to practice.

Vet-techs earn a median salary of $29,710 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Veterinary technologists, who have more advanced educations and perform more job duties, typically earn more than veterinary technicians. Vet-techs in research and development positions at facilities and colleges may earn salaries in the range of $36,450 per year, the BLS reported. Though they earn less, vet-techs in veterinary services often have a high rate of job satisfaction that stems from helping pets and other animals get well or maintain their current level of health.

Career opportunities for vet-techs are rapidly increasing. While the BLS expects only 14 percent job growth for all occupations, the government agency anticipates jobs for vet-techs to grow by 52 percent. If you are good at science, work well with your hands and have compassion for both animals and the human owners who care for them, knowing how to become a vet-tech could be your first step toward a fulfilling new career working with animals.

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