The Scoop on Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Are you an animal lover? Do you enjoy pets?

Have you always wanted to work with all the cute little fuzzies at the Vet's office? Perhaps working as a Veterinary Tech is for you! Veterinary Technology is a field that is rapidly growing as the population grows, and more folks take better care of more animals. The field has a keen competition for positions right now, because Veterinary Services have not yet saturated certain metropolitan areas. Those folks who love animals and don't mind getting their hands dirty will find this is a fun profession.

What in the World Does a Veterinary Technologist or Technician Do Anyways?

Veterinary Techs work in Veterinary offices and hospitals where they assist Veterinarians in the routine care of pets and animals. It depends on the setting, but if you are working as a Veterinary Tech, you would be greeting the animals and their owners, making sure you get an accurate medical history for the animal, and preparing the animal for their appointment. Veterinary Techs tend to be the folks who get their hands dirty in a Vet's office, doing things that help a Veterinarian prepare to see the animal. However, because of the delicate nature of animals, you may not be required to take blood or stool samples (as that would be reserved for the Vet to do), but you would probably be asked to do the Lab Tests while the Vet works with other animals. There's a little bit of a trade-off, and this is one distinguishing factor between treating humans and animals.

Because of the physical nature of the job, you would spend most the day on your feet and working with your hands. Since most Veterinary offices are small and the staff depends on everyone to pitch in, you may also need to know how to work the billing system and phones.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

Veterinary Technicians and Technologists have different training requirements. Because a Veterinary Technician will typically have less responsibility, the training takes a little less time. Most of the time, you can get an Associate's Degree (which takes two years) and then work as a Veterinary Technician. However, if you wanted to get a job as a Veterinary Technologist (with more responsibility), then you would need to complete a Bachelor's Degree (4 years).

On either path, you would probably enter the work force at an entry-level position to prove yourself to the Vet you work for. If you are a Technologist, you will be able to get more responsibility and privileges quickly, and, if you are a Technician, you will have more time to gain the trust of the staff.

Not all states require Veterinary Techs to have a license, but you must check with your states Veterinary Board to know the rules in your state. If you need a license, you will most likely have to pass a written and a skills test before you get your license. Then, you can start looking for work.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Most Veterinary Technologists and Technicians work in Veterinary offices under a Veterinarian. Occasionally, you may find a larger Veterinary clinic or hospital where you could work under the same principles, but in a much larger setting. Animal shelters, the "Bureau of Animal Control" and non-profit animal rescue operations will also need Veterinary Techs.

If you want to think bigger, you could work at a zoo or aquarium assisting Zoologists and Large Animal Veterinarians. If you like the slow-vibe of the country, you could work with a large-animal veterinarian who services farms and ranches.

Advancement in the field usually means a supervisory job or completing more schooling. If you want to become a Veterinarian one day, this is a great job to have while you're in school. You may also advance into management or supervision of Vet Techs, or you might go on to teach Veterinary Technology at a College or University. You don't have to hold down Scruffy for his shots for the rest of your life if you don't want to.

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Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Overview

Veterinary Technologists and Technician Salary:$28,900
Job Prospects:A+
Education after high school:4 years
# Employed in US:78,920
% Who work Part Time:22%
Physical Difficulty:+ + + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ + +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being a Veterinary Technologist or Technician

  • You get to work with animals
  • Lots of Vet's offices allow you to work part-time or night hours
  • This is a good job to prepare you for Veterinary School

The Cons of being a Veterinary Technologist or Technician

  • It may be hard to work with sick animals
  • Handling animals is hard, especially if they are skittish
  • You do a lot of grunt work around the office
  • You'll spend a lot of time on your feet

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