Thinking about pursuing a career as a veterinary technician? Perhaps you don’t even know what it means to be one! Either way, you’ve come to the right website.
We have all the information you need to learn more about:
• What a vet tech does
• How to become one
• What you can expect from the job
• Whether it’s the right career for you
The work of a veterinarian tech is an exciting one, because no day is ever the same. The basic purpose of the job is to help a veterinarian by running medical tests to diagnose an animal’s disease or ailment. Typical day-to-day duties include collecting samples from animals (for instance, urine, blood or tissue), conducting tests in a laboratory to examine these samples and using medical equipment such as heart or x-ray machines. But that’s not all – if you’re an outgoing person, you will be pleased to know that being a veterinary technician involves more than just working in a lab; you also get to interact with both the animals and their owners. This means assisting vets during examinations, giving medication or vaccines to the animals, preparing them for and monitoring them during surgery (even giving them anesthetic!) taking x-rays, stitching and dressing wounds, monitoring the patients, providing nursing care and advising their owners on medications, treatments and possibly dietary requirements going forward.
A veterinary technician is to a veterinarian what a nurse is to a doctor. Needless to say, if you’re an animal lover with a flair for science, this may be the career for you!
Where you work will depend on the specialization you have chosen – most veterinarian techs work at private veterinary practices, clinics or hospitals but some work in zoos, marine parks, wildlife sanctuaries, kennels, animal shelters and even the animal food industry. As with many professions, you can increase your knowledge (and employment chances!) as a veterinary tech by specializing in a particular field, such as:
• Avian medicine
• Biomedical research
• Emergency care
Some veterinary technicians eventually become supervisors, overseeing the work of junior technicians in these fields; still others become licensed veterinarians. This field therefore offers many opportunities for you to grow in both knowledge and experience and of course, land your dream job.
If you’re thinking of becoming a vet tech, you should ask yourself whether you have the qualities to be a good one.
• Passionate about animals and improving their welfare?
• Can you pay attention to detail?
• Do you communicate well with people?
If the answer to these three questions is yes, you’re on the right track. The role of a veterinary technician is best suited to someone who is hands-on, compassionate and able to communicate well with their supervisor, colleagues and the owners of their patients. Because you’ll be running tests in a laboratory, you’ll need to be able to pay attention to the smallest details in order to give accurate results. You should also be an emotionally strong person, able to cope with the suffering and death of patients while remaining calm during emergency situations.
To pursue a career as a vet tech, you should choose math and biology as high school subjects, as well as any other science subject available. After finishing school, you’ll need to apply for a certificate or an associate’s degree in the field. The good news is there are over 190 institutions in the USA for you to choose from! Most of these offer a two-year program (you may need to have completed college-level coursework in biology, humanities, chemistry or microbiology before you can apply). Alternatively, you could apply to one of the fifteen universities (including Lincoln Memorial University, North Dakota State University and Mercy College in New York) that offer four-year Bachelor’s degrees in veterinary technology – this is probably the best option for you if you’d like to pursue a job in laboratory research. You will also need to pass the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam).
To gain some experience before you qualify, you should consider applying for a ‘clinical component’ or ‘preceptorship’ (basically an internship) at a vet clinic in your area. This will give you hands-on training, which is usually a requirement for your college degree/program. During this time, you could help the vet with anything from feeding the pets in your care and checking temperatures to taking blood and cleaning their teeth.
The job of a veterinarian tech is a rewarding one – if you choose to pursue it, you will not only make a positive difference in the lives of animals and form close bonds with your patients and their owners, you’ll also find that your quality of life is equally improved and changed by your interaction with the unique, special creatures you encounter.
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