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If you have a love for animals and want to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their owners, a career as a veterinary technician may be a good option for you. Veterinary technicians provide invaluable service to pet owners seeking the best care for their furry companions in this rewarding career field.

Like nurses who assist doctors during procedures and make sure patients are comfortable, veterinary technicians help veterinarians. Vet techs are required to communicate and collaborate with veterinarians, being involved in every aspect of animal healthcare. Vet techs may routinely administer medications, process tissue samples or take x-rays. Veterinary techs also are entrusted to help by performing laboratory tests like urinalysis or blood counts along with aiding veterinarians in emergency and surgical care. (See also Vet Assistant Schools)

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Veterinary technicians’ duties require a wide overall skillset. In addition to the hands on work vet techs are required to do, they are also needed to perform clerical duties. From maintaining detailed and accurate records to handling the ordering, distribution and stocking of medications and supplies, the career of a vet tech is multi-dimensional.

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Academic Requirements

The vast job duties required of vet techs are an example of why anyone involved in the field are expected to undergo classroom work and plenty of hands-on training before beginning their professional career. By taking these steps to preparedness, students will be adequately prepared for both a busy and rewarding work environment.

A Veterinary Technology Associate’s Degree of Applied Science must be earned in order to land a position as a veterinary technician. This degree program typically takes two years to complete if attending on a full time basis at an accredited college. Other schools offer two year degrees in Animal Science with a specialization in veterinary technology. A high school diploma or GED equivalency are required to gain admission to these programs.

The curriculum required for a Veterinary Technology Associate’s Degree is quite detailed and requires a number of observation hours at a veterinary hospital. The coursework needed to attain a degree covers in-depth study of animal behavior and other like subjects including clinical practices, vet pathology, biochemistry, clinical practice and animal pharmacology. In order to attain the required amount of field training, some programs require that students complete internships or externships.

Some students choose to continue on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science although the career as a veterinary technician does not require two extra years of schooling. The extra years can however provide extra leverage when seeking employment or negotiating pay. This degree program can also be the beginning steps toward the process of becoming a veterinarian.

Licensing and State Requirements

Each state has its own guidelines regarding the licensing of veterinary technicians. In order to attain a career as a veterinary technician, you may be required to meet certain licensing and training as well as other requirements that vary by state and vocation.

Some states require vet techs to pursue ongoing credits in order to maintain their status. This can be done through workshops, conferences or seminars on a routine basis. Staying up-to-date is important when it comes to offering optimal care as technology continually offers new innovations in the field of animal medicine.

Each state has different licensing protocol, making it important to contact your state licensing board of veterinary medicine. You will then be able to obtain further detail on which steps you need to take in order to procure your license.

Most states require that the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to be completed for licensing purposes. The exam features 200 multiple choice question and is to be completed within four hours.

Licenses are also subject to renewal within an allotted period of time. Many renewals are accompanied by a fee.

Working Conditions

Veterinary technicians can work wherever a veterinarian practices. Animal hospitals and pet clinics usually require the services of a veterinary technician along with private veterinary practices. Animal shelters and Humane Societies also hire multiple vet techs. Even research labs may employ vet techs to help provide comfort to and care for animals as well as check for symptoms of poor health. Vet techs may also find work in hospitals that teach veterinary technology, zoos, rescue organizations, livestock and equine facilities and exotic animal facilities. The duties remain the same regardless of where a vet tech is employed although each location may have more of an emphasis on specific job functions.

Vet techs may become engaged in high-pressure situations, like when an animal is facing a life threatening situation when brought into a healthcare facility. Both efficiency and calmness are required on the part of a veterinary technician.

Salary Range

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a veterinary technician is $33,280 per year. The same source also reports that the top 10 percent of bet techs earn over $47,410 per year.

Both location and level of experience can play a role in the determination of a vet tech’s salary.


Highly skilled vet techs are in demand thanks to an ever-expanding number of pet owners in the U.S. According to the American Pet Products Association, American pet owners spent $15.4 billion on veterinary care in 2015. Over 95,000 vet techs are working in the United States, currently. There is expected to be nearly 3,000 new vet tech positions opening every year across the nation.

Furthermore, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary technician employment is expected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024. Additionally, more than 17,900 new veterinary tech jobs are projected to become available by 2024, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Because such a high demand for veterinary care exists, facilities are opening at an accelerated pace while others already in existence are expanding. Economists have noted that the veterinary field is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. This is evidence that the need for veterinary care will continue to rise, making the decision to join the veterinary field a wise career move.

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