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Veterinary Technician Employment Information
Veterinary Technician Job Overview
The role of the veterinary technician is similar to that of a registered nurse in a doctor's office. Vet techs are the veterinarian's right hand. In many cases, the vet tech will be the first person to examine an animal when it comes into the veterinary clinic. Vet techs are also employed by zoos and research labs to assist in caring for, evaluating and treating the animals. Vet techs can specialize in several different areas of medicine, including dentistry, anesthesia, nutrition and pathology. Vet techs often supervise other members of the veterinary care team such as the veterinary assistant.
Depending on the work environment, the daily tasks of a veterinary technician can include:
Taking patient history for animals presenting for treatment
Collecting specimens and performing laboratory tests
Preparing animals for surgery, which can include administering anesthesia and monitoring the animal during surgery
Taking X-rays and performing other diagnostic tests
Cleaning animals' teeth
Interpreting laboratory and diagnostic tests and communicating results to treating clinicians
Giving specialized nursing care to critically ill or injured animals
Supervising the activities of other veterinary office staff
Assisting with research projects and supervising the care of research animals
The vet tech's daily tasks depend on the type of practice they work for. Some vet techs go into animal behavioral medicine, a specialty that focuses on teaching humane behavior modification.
Veterinary Technician Job Education Requirements
Most veterinary technicians are certified by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). In order to qualify for certification, vet techs must complete a two-year degree program at a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association. Some vet techs, especially those looking for clinical research jobs, will go on to get a four-year degree in animal science.
Veterinary Technician Job Market
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for vet techs is expected to grow 30 percent over the next decade, much higher than for other careers. This is because more practices are replacing lower skilled workers with credentialed veterinary technicians and giving them more responsibility for animal care and practice supervision.
Veterinary Technician Job Salary Information
The median salary for vet technicians in 2012 was $30,290. The highest paid veterinary technicians earned $44,030. In general, vet techs who obtained specialty credentials or worked for federal and state government programs earned the highest salaries. Vet techs associated with research at academic facilities also earned higher wages.