How Do I Become a Veterinary Technician?

If you have an interest in the healthcare field and enjoy working with animals, you may wonder how to become a veterinary technician. Veterinary medicine is the field of medical and healthcare for animals. Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of veterinarians, providing direct and indirect care through nursing, laboratory work, and administering diagnostic tests. Because they support veterinarians in so many varied roles, veterinary technicians play a crucial role in animal healthcare.

A veterinary technician may see animal patients and their human owners before the veterinarian does, so they may perform initial evaluations of the animal’s health and document the animal’s medical history. Veterinarian technicians are capable of providing first aid in emergency situations, but they are also qualified to perform routine procedures, such as implementing and procuring blood and other specimens for laboratory tests and taking and processing X-rays. When a procedure needs to be done, a veterinary technician may assist veterinarians by getting animals ready for procedures, including putting animals under anesthesia when necessary. These professionals also ensure that veterinarians have all of the tools, devices, and medications needed to successfully perform the procedure. Veterinarian technicians monitor the recovery of animals after surgeries and procedures, provide dental care as needed, and dispense medications as per veterinarians’ instructions. Educating human caretakers about an animal’s medical condition and the necessary treatments may fall under the responsibilities of a veterinary technician.

Veterinary technicians work in different environments, caring for various types of animals. In animal hospitals and clinics, they typically work with pets such as cats and dogs. However, other veterinary technicians work with livestock and farm animals, rodents or various species of birds. As they gain experience, veterinary technicians may choose to specialize in particular areas of veterinary care, such as emergency care or dental care.

To prepare for a career as a veterinary technician, candidates should first pursue an associate’s degree in veterinary technology through a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Earning such a degree usually requires two years of study in coursework that includes biology, chemistry and other science- and math-related subjects. State laws determine whether veterinary technicians must apply for registration, certification, or licensure, but states typically require at least one such credential. The professional examination most commonly required is the Veterinary Technician National Examination.

Veterinary technicians earned a median salary of $29,710 per year as of 2010, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. For many veterinary technicians, the opportunity to help heal sick and injured animals is personally rewarding. Veterinary technicians also enjoy an extremely positive job outlook. The BLS expects career opportunities in this field to increase as much as 52 percent between 2010 and 2020, as compared to only 14 percent of growth predicted for all occupations. If you have an interest in science and healthcare and a passion for working with animals, knowing how to become a veterinary technician may be your first step toward a fulfilling new career.

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