Are You Ready For…
A Career That Loves You Back
If you love animals, chances are you’ve thought about becoming a Veterinary Technician. But choosing a career is a big decision and you’ve got a ton of questions. Like what, exactly, do vet techs do? What kind of training does the job require? And is it a career you can count on as the years go by?
The faculty at Vet Tech University has developed this site to help you answer those questions and decide whether a future as a vet tech is right for you.
A Job Like No Other
No question being a vet tech is both demanding and satisfying.
Ask a tech and they’ll tell you they work hard. They’re on their feet much of their shift and sometimes responsible for unpleasant jobs like cleaning cages. They’ll point out that lifting and restraining heavy animals takes a good bit of strength and that when animals are hurt or frightened, they aren’t shy about trying to use their claws and teeth.
They’ll also tell you there are days when their job challenges their emotions, like when they have to work with severely injured or abused animals or when an animal that simply can’t be helped has to be euthanized.
In spite of all of this, though, techs will tell you they love their jobs and that the satisfaction of seeing an injured dog recover or a sick kitten grow into a thriving, healthy cat makes it all worthwhile.
They’ll talk about how much pet owners appreciate them and how good it feels to see a little boy smile when they tell him his puppy is going to be OK. And they’re quick to point out how proud they are to be part of the rapid scientific advances that are making it possible for veterinarians to help more animals than ever before.
The Veterinarian’s Right Hand
Today people consider their pets part of the family and expect state-of-the-art care for them when they’re sick or injured.
To meet these demands, veterinarians are relying on the skills of their technicians more than ever before. In fact, vet techs do many of the same tasks for their veterinarians as clinical nurses do for the physicians they work with.
Some of the important jobs veterinary technicians do today include:
- Performing laboratory tests including urinalysis and blood counts
- Administering medications
- Assisting with dental procedures
- Taking blood and preparing tissue samples
- Assisting with surgery
- Using diagnostic equipment, including taking and developing X-rays
- Providing specialized nursing care to hospitalized animals
A Career With a Future
Most veterinary technicians work in veterinary clinics and animal hospitals helping veterinarians care for dogs and cats, and other animals including mice, rats, monkeys, birds and fish. If the practice includes large animals they may also work with horses and cows.
A smaller number of vet techs work in other settings, including laboratory facilities, animal shelters, zoos, and animal training, grooming and boarding facilities.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics*, there were roughly 79,600 veterinary technicians working in 2008 – about 91% of them in veterinary practices. At that time median annual wages for techs were about $28,900, with the middle 50% earning between $23,580 and $34,960.
But those statistics tell only part of the story. Despite the recession and slow-to-recover economy the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for vet techs will increase much faster than the average for other occupations. In fact they expect it will grow by a very healthy 36% over the 2008-2018 period.
There are several reasons why the demand for vet techs is expected to surge.
- Today about six out of ten pet owners get veterinary care for their animals. That number is expected to grow over the next few years, driving a need for more vet techs to help provide care.
- Pet owners are increasingly willing to pay for advanced veterinary care and procedures that weren’t available in the past. As the number of veterinarians grows to accommodate these owners and their pets, the number of veterinary technicians needed to assist them will grow as well.
- The popularity of cats as pets continues to grow, boosting the need for feline medicine and services.
- While the number of two-year veterinary technician programs available has grown, these programs are expected to graduate fewer than 3,800 techs each year, which is not nearly enough to meet the demand.