National Veterinary Technician Career Outlook
Today, the Career Outlook for Veterinary Technicians is very strong as the healthcare industry continues to rely on the unique services they provide. Vet Techs are responsible for performing many of the technical tasks within a veterinary practice, leaving the supervising Veterinarian to spend more time with pet owners, conduct tests and confirm diagnoses. Due to the importance of their work and an increase in demand, approximately 20,400 Vet Tech positions are expected to open over the next decade in the United States!
In this role, Veterinary Techs can expect to earn between $22,880 and $49,350 annually. This translates to an hourly range of between $11 and $24 per hour. While these statistics represent national averages, the top paying states for this occupation are Connecticut, New York, Alaska, Massachusetts and California. Vet Techs aspiring to increase their annual wages should consider relocating to one of these states. Overall, Veterinary Technicians are among the highest paid healthcare professionals for whom a two-year degree is commonly accepted.
With a greater priority placed on prevention and comprehensive pet healthcare than ever, there continues to be an increase in demand for Veterinary Technicians. Furthermore, pet owners are putting forth more funds than ever toward these healthcare services. Therefore, veterinary clinics have the funds to employee and pay more Vet Techs (whose salaries are less than those of Veterinarians who spend as many as eight years in school). Again, with Veterinary Technicians available to perform laboratory work and imaging services, Veterinarians are given more time to assess the most immediate emergencies and conditions while managing the entire clinical facility.
Among the list of fastest growing medical careers, Vet Techs have become essential staff members at veterinary services and private practices, research laboratories, colleges and universities and within social advocacy organizations. Reflecting this demand, the employment of Veterinary Technologists is projected to grow 20 percent! For comparison, the average growth rate for all occupations rests at just 7 percent.
Making up these employment statistics are both full-time and part-time opportunities, which are dependent on the state in which a professional resides. States employing the greatest number of Vet Techs are California, Florida, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania. The states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this healthcare career occupation are Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Maryland.
To enter this animal-focused career in healthcare, prospective Veterinary Technicians should pursue a post-secondary state-accredited 2-year program. Most of these programs offer an associate’s degree, but a few offer bachelor’s degrees in veterinary technology. To prepare themselves for these programs, students should take multiple science and math courses in high school. Having strong problem-solving skills, manual dexterity, communication skills will help a prospective Vet Tech to go far in their career.
Once the program is complete, prospective Veterinary Technicians must pass a credentialing exam. Most states require the passing of an exam, but each state will regulate Vet Techs different. The standard exam is the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Finding the Right Veterinary Technologist Program
Once enrolled in a American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approved veterinary technology program, students will learn the concepts and skills needed to succeed in this field. Therefore most curriculums include courses on biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and animal medicine. Many programs additionally seek to ensure that students are prepared for the many functions of an office environment as well as a clinical environment.
Here are some of the essential questions to ask before selecting a veterinary technology program:
- Is the program accredited by AVMA?
- If the program is not accredited by the AVMA, are graduates still eligible to take the AVMA certification examinations?
- What is the certification examination pass rate of students who have graduated from this program?
- What is the cost and length of the program?
- What degree is awarded upon completing the program?
- What percentage of graduates achieves employment in radiologic technology within six months of completion?
While a veterinary technology program will teach all elements of a Vet Tech career, some students may choose to later specialize in working with a certain type of animal. For example, some Vet Techs work solely with family pets, whereas others may assist Veterinarians who work with exotic animals. There is a need for Veterinary Technicians in all types of animal medicine and science!
What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?
Working alongside Veterinarians, Vet Techs will be given a number of technical responsibilities. Ultimately, they are expected to care and handle animals in a humane way during each shift.
Day-to-day, Vet Techs will also take part in daily rounds, which are briefings of the day’s planned surgeries and major events. They may also complete tasks such as drawing an animal’s blood, preparing tools and equipment, entering electronic health records (EHR), restraining animals, monitoring animals post-surgery and conducting imaging tests. Some common tests these professional will administer include laboratory tests for animals, blood counts or urinalysis and taking X-rays. Brushing or cutting animals’ hair, clipping their nails or claws and comforting them are other elements of this career.
Vet Techs may additional be asked to observe animals behaviors and conditions and to provide emergency first aid to injured or ill animals as needed. They can even act as a Dental Hygienist to some animals, evaluating and cleaning their teeth with special equipment as needed.
At the end of the day, the three things a Vet Tech cannot do are prescribe medications, perform invasive procedures or make diagnoses. However, both Vet Techs and Veterinarians spend their days together working as a team with animals of all shapes, sizes and breeds.
Employment as a Veterinary Technician
Also important to consider when seeking employment in this occupation are the specific industries which employ the highest number of Veterinary Technicians. This includes private practice veterinary clinics, veterinary hospitals, colleges and universities and social advocacy organizations.
The industries with the highest concentration of Vet Techs is reported to be Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation), museums, historical sites, and similar institutions, local government, excluding schools and hospitals (OES Designation), general medical and surgical hospitals and the state government, excluding schools and hospitals (OES Designation).
Other possible avenues for employment may arise in support activities for animal production, scientific research and development services and other personal services. Most employers of these healthcare professionals tend to offer employee benefits like insurance, holiday pay and paid time off.
To identify open positions, Veterinary Technicians are encouraged to check job boards, network with healthcare professionals and connect with members of veterinary technology associations and organizations. Some key professional groups in this industry include the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science and the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Why Veterinary Technology is Such a Rewarding Field
Through these connections, prospective Vet Techs will witness the reward associated with this position. Being able to help animals reach successful, potentially life-saving outcomes is satisfying and extremely fulfilling. In this career there exists the opportunity for veterinary career development and the satisfaction of working as part of a dedicated team of healthcare professionals.
Working with a wide array of veterinary cases also enables Vet Techs to help a wide variety of animals. They rely on their veterinary technology skills and the supervising Veterinarian to guide them through the clinical experience while providing a sense of confidence and trust. A successful Veterinary Technician will utilize their skills of compassion and care together to meet goals.
Overall, now is a great time to become a Veterinary Technician! A Vet Tech career is something to be proud of. If you aspire to work in healthcare, help make a difference in animals lives and constantly keep learning and evolving as a professional, you will love a career in veterinary medicine!
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook
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