Vet Tech Jobs & Career Guide

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What is a Vet Tech?

A Vet Tech or Veterinary Technician is a professional in the veterinary field who helps with the everyday workings of hospitals, zoos, clinics, specialist clinics, or management positions in multiple locations. Compared to a veterinary practice, a “vet tech” focuses more on the theory of veterinary medicine than providing immediate medical or clinical care to an animal in need. 

For those who have the right qualifications, education, and experience, it can be helpful to understand more of the details behind these veterinary assistant jobs before applying. 

What does a Vet Tech Do?

But what do veterinary technicians do in their everyday life? There are specific roles and tasks required to succeed in these veterinary assistant jobs:

  • Diagnosing sick or injured animals

  • Treating wounds and providing follow-up care

  • Monitoring animals for a post-care status 

  • Vaccinating animals

  • Performing emergency care to animals that require first aid

  • Obtaining blood samples for disease testing 

  • Consulting with animals’ owners, communicating necessary follow-up measures, and clearly describing the problem with the animal

  • Running animal tests 

A veterinary technician may find their daily tasks vary based on their specific work location and the employer's requirements. Most vet techs will balance multiple patients simultaneously, jumping between filling out paperwork, retrieving detailed patient histories, conducting physical exams, preparing follow-up medications, and explaining the entire procedure to the pet’s owner(s). 

If a vet tech is not with a patient, they will most likely be working with assisting other employees in the workplace. Some common tasks include analyzing x-rays, conducting laboratory scans, gathering patient samples, collecting urine, preparing blood through in-house machines, and diagnosing patients. 

Vet techs will also help during surgical procedures. A vet tech is an important helping hand that will place the IV catheter, administer fluids, prepare the breathing tube, keep the patient comfortable, gather the sterile instruments, and hand supplies and instruments to the anesthetist and head veterinarian during the procedure. 

Where Does a Veterinary Technician Work?

A vet technician can work in various locations that can work with their preferences and lifestyle. The most common places for a vet technician to work are hospitals, clinics, zoos, primary care clinics, emergency rooms, critical care locations, and mixed-practice clinics. 

How Do I Become a Veterinary Technician?

To become a vet technician, most individuals must obtain specific qualifications, knowledge, and background education to apply for a job opening. 

Firstly, vet techs will have to obtain a minimum of a Bachelor of Veterinary Technology degree at a reputable university. These courses are usually three years of full-time studying or six years of part-time classes. The main topics covered in the vet tech educational field include:

  • Veterinary practice

  • Diagnosing illnesses and injuries

  • Animal nutrition 

  • Welfare

  • Animal handling

  • Veterinary therapeutic treatments

  • Veterinary surgery

After completing the required courses, students can then choose the direction of their studies based on their desired career path. Those who wish to focus on a certain type of animal or location may select their final elective courses to provide helpful training for their desired job.

Other students will consider adding more vocational qualifications to stand out among other applicants for job openings. Some of the most common vocational qualifications include a Certificate in Rural Operations or a Certificate in Veterinary Nursing. 

Once students complete their vet tech education and formal classes, they may continue on-the-job training. Some vet tech students begin training during their college courses to supplement their classroom learning. The most common type of training includes practicals, off-campus study options, clinical rotations, and hospital placements. 

Lastly, once a veterinary technician obtains a job in a certain company, they will receive additional on-the-job training to ensure they are familiar with the business’ policies and procedures. This type of in-place training is helpful for new workers to familiarize themselves with the requirements of supervisors, their new environment, and their daily tasks and responsibilities. 

How Much Money Can You Earn?

A veterinary technician makes an average of $30,000 per year, with the average salary range between $19k and $41k per year. However, other criteria influence how much you can make per year and how to get a higher-paying entry-level occupation.

A veterinary technician that obtains an entry-level job as their first career out of college will make between $19k and $25k. Those who have a few years of work experience in the field, or a related industry, have a higher chance of making between $22k and $30k.

In addition, veterinary technicians who work in a private organization usually make more than those who find a job in the public health sector or non-profit organization. 

Lastly, the highest-paid veterinary technicians who are in the top 25th percentile make over $40k annually, whereas the lowest-paid 25th percentile makes less than $29k per year. However, those who have extra qualifications or have multiple years of experience in the field can expect to raise their salary to between $60k and $80k per year. 

What Is the Career Path?

Becoming a veterinary technician is a challenging, science-based, and people-oriented occupation. The tough parts of the job are often outweighed by helping pet owners with their loved ones.

When it comes to securing a job in the vet tech field, it is helpful to know the proper steps to take to receive the correct work experience, education, qualifications, and certifications. Suppose you complete the necessary years of collegiate education and further qualifications. In that case, you can work in any field, such as research, government, animal nutrition, animal welfare, pharmaceutical, animal health, or vet practice industries. 

Furthermore, those who complete the required prerequisites should keep a few things in mind before proceeding to choose a career. 

Firstly, a vet tech has different qualifications and career paths than a veterinary nurse. A vet tech must complete a Bachelor’s degree, whereas a vet nurse can obtain only an Associate's Degree. 

Secondly, vet technicians usually focus more on animal care's academic and diagnostic side, whereas other veterinary workers focus more on clinical and medical care. 

Lastly, vet techs are currently in high demand in various settings, such as primary care clinics, mixed practice locations, specialist care hospitals, and emergent care hospitals. 

Finally, for those who complete the necessary requirements to become a vet technician, but want to alter their career path, there are alternatives that can correlate to their pre-earned qualifications:

  • Veterinary research — Vet techs can help perform necessary steps to help with the future care of animals by aiding in health care techniques, diagnostic treatment, and additional research.  

  • Biosecurity — Vet techs can help safeguard their business or country from the inclusion and prevalence of potentially harmful diseases carried by animals.

  • Nutrition technician — Lastly, vet techs have the same scientific background as a nutrition technicians, which can help them succeed in creating the healthiest diet plan for animals.