How to Become a Veterinary Technician

If you’re looking for a career in animal care, you may be wondering how to become a veterinary technician. Veterinary technicians play an important role in providing medical care for animals, and they typically work alongside veterinarians in animal hospitals and clinics.

To become a veterinary technician, you’ll need to complete a veterinary technician program, which typically takes two to four years. Once you’ve completed your education, you’ll also need to pass a state-specific exam to earn your veterinary technician license

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Introduction

Veterinary technicians typically have an interest in the workings of animal science and medicine, and a desire to help animals. They should also have a strong aptitude for paying close attention to detail and for working with others. Becoming a veterinary technician usually requires completing an accredited postsecondary program in veterinary technology and passing a credentialing exam.

What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?

A veterinary technician is a professional who provides medical care for animals. Veterinary technicians work in animal hospitals and clinics, zoos, and research laboratories. They may also work in private practices or for the government.

Veterinary technicians perform many of the same duties as veterinarians, but they do not have the same level of education or training. Veterinary technicians typically have an associate’s degree or certificate from a vocational school. They must also pass a state- administered examination to become licensed.

Veterinary technicians typically work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They may perform tasks such as taking X-rays, administering injections, and preparing laboratory samples. In some states, veterinary technicians may also prescribe medication.

Duties of a Veterinary Technician

Veterinary technicians typically do the following:
-Restrain animals during examinations and procedures
-Take and develop X-rays
-Prepare samples for laboratory analysis
-Provide nursing care
-Administer medications, vaccines, and treatments prescribed by veterinarians
-Maintain medical records
-Educate animal owners about care and disease prevention

Education and Certification

Individuals interested in becoming a veterinary technician usually have at least a high school diploma although some programs may require postsecondary education, and most programs include clinical experience. Veterinary technicians typically complete a 2-year Associate’s degree in veterinary technology. Alternatively, some veterinary technicians pursue a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. A few states allow veterinary technicians to take their state certification exams prior to graduation.

After completing an educational program, veterinary technicians must pass two examinations – a national examination and a state or regional examination – to become credentialed. The National Veterinary Technician Exam is administered by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Once credentialed, veterinary technicians must renew their certification every 3 years and complete continuing education credits to maintain their certification.

The Veterinary Technician Workplace

The Veterinary Technician Workplace
A veterinary technician works in a variety of settings including:
-Private clinical practices
-Teaching hospitals
-Laboratories
-Pharmaceutical companies
-Research facilities
-Zoos and wildlife parks
-Industry (agriculture, pharmaceutical, food animal production)
In each of these settings, the veterinary technician works with a veterinarian and other health care professionals to provide quality patient care.

Salary and Job Outlook

Earning a median salary of $32,350 per year in 2012, veterinary technicians are vital members of the animal healthcare team. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for veterinary technicians are expected to grow by 30% from 2012-2022, much faster than average for all occupations. The growing demand for vet techs is due largely to the increasing popularity of pet ownership and the aging of the large baby boomer generation (many of whom are reaching an age where their pets may require more frequent medical care). The following steps can help you start your career in this rewarding field.

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