Veterinary technicians, or "vet techs," are integral members of all veterinary clinics, whose certifiable responsibilities vary from state to state, but who generally work in direct support of a veterinarian's diagnostic and surgical efforts. While they're unable to provide prescriptions, formal diagnosis, or independent surgical treatment, vet techs remain essential to the people and animals they serve.
Below are 10 of the best reasons for considering a career as a vet tech:
1. Strong Demand
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the job market for veterinary technicians will expand at a rate of more than 20% over the decade from 2016 to 2026. This strong rate of growth is nearly triple the average for all surveyed professions. Qualified vet techs should have no trouble finding employment as the industry continues to expand.
2. Two-Year Degree
Aspiring vet techs can complete an associate’s degree in just two years through traditional college programs. There also are American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-accredited distance learning programs that allow students to work full or part-time at a veterinary clinic while completing their formal degree.
3. Many Specialty Certification Areas
There are many specialty certification areas for vet techs, including clinical practice, clinical pathology, emergency and critical care, equine, zoo, internal medicine, behavior, surgery, anesthesiology, dental care, and nutrition. Certification is achieved through documentation of experience (usually three to five years), case logs, continuing education credit hours, and a formal exam. Specialists may enjoy higher earning potential after achieving a certification that officially recognizes their advanced skill level.
No two days are alike, with different patients and cases each day. A vet tech will treat a variety of injuries, help with emergencies, and use diagnostic tools to assist with an overall treatment plan. Large animal vet techs often ride along on farm visits, assisting with animal restraint and treatment in the field.
5. Varied Responsibilities
Vet techs are responsible for a wide variety of tasks in a clinic environment, as they prepare animals for surgery, clean and organize surgical tools, collect samples, run lab tests, take x-rays, administer anesthesia, perform dental cleanings, clean cages, update client files, fill prescriptions, interact with owners, and assist a veterinarian with any other duties that may be required.
6. Professional Options
A vet tech can use their veterinary technician experience to transition into a variety of roles with veterinary pharmaceutical sales companies, laboratories, animal production facilities, zoos, public health organizations, and more. The veterinary technician career path is not limited to private practice.
7. Help Animals on a Daily Basis
Vet techs are active participants in the treatment process. They will often help animals every day by treating injuries, catching problems early by running routine lab tests, performing dental cleanings, and other routine activities. For those who love animals, it's hard to overstate how satisfying it can be to earn an animal's trust, and then watch as they make a full recovery.
8. Work With Animal Lovers
Vet techs get to work closely with others who have devoted their lives to helping animals. Veterinarians, techs, kennel staff, receptionists, and other staff members have the opportunity to do what they love and become valued parts of the veterinary team.
9. New Technology
Clinics are continually upgrading their computer-based record systems, x-ray machines, and diagnostic test procedures. Vet techs must stay abreast of new technological insights in the field of veterinary medicine, and they are given a unique window into the developments that will change the industry in the years ahead.
10. Community Interaction
Vet techs have a particularly high level of interaction with clients and are regularly asked to provide advice on best practices. These include such common topics as parasite control products, dietary advice, and grooming, as well as the many unexpected questions that pet owners dream up. Vet techs have the unique opportunity to make all of these connections memorable and work with a wide cross-section of the community during their appointments.
For those who love interaction with both pets and people, a career as a vet tech may be a satisfying, well-paying alternative to vet school.