Are you thinking of becoming a vet tech? Here are a few basics about what it entails to be a veterinary tech.
What Vet Techs Do
Veterinary Technicians perform the following main tasks on the job:
- They perform laboratory tests that are used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease in animals.
- They are responsible for administering vaccines and serums to animals, for the prevention of diseases.
- They receive tissue samples from the vet, that they prepare for the lab to examine under a microscope or for evidence of disease, as well as draw blood samples for analysis from animals. They also perform laboratory tests for use by the vet to diagnose problems, such as blood cell counts, blood profiles, blood and tissue cultures, and urinalysis.
- They are responsible for sterilizing and cleaning medical instruments and maintaining any equipment or machines needed for the laboratory, the exam room, the operating room, and the recovery room.
- They often assist veterinarians during exams and surgery.
- Vet techs are responsible for the care and monitoring of pets that are in the treatment of illness or are recovering from procedures, including surgery.
Related Tasks and Expertise
Although the above-listed tasks are the main things that veterinary techs do, they have a widely varied scope of practice. They may go on to specialized areas of care, including providing anesthesia to animals while under the supervision of a vet. They also maintain a record of counts of controlled drugs that are in the inventory of veterinary clinics and hospitals. They must keep the logbooks of narcotics, and are responsible for any discrepancies that might arise, as are any other personnel who are licensed to access the controlled substance areas of a clinical area.
Of course, in the exam and care of animals, vet techs are commonly called upon to restrain animals during exams and procedures. Their knowledge is called upon in emergencies to administer life-saving care to animals, including resuscitation, under the watch of a licensed veterinarian. The monitoring of animals after these life-saving procedures also falls under the vet tech’s scope of care.
Schooling, Salary, and Other Information
In 2018, the average salary for a veterinary technician was $34,420 per year in the United States. The highest rate of pay for this career was in the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Nevada, Virginia, New York, and California. Although starting pay might be significantly lower than the national average (around $18,000 on average), the rate of pay goes up with experience. With specializing in areas like anesthesia, vet techs can make a lot better salary than a beginning tech who has recently completed schooling.
There is a very high rate of job satisfaction associated with this career. The room for growth in this career is very high, and this is one reason for job satisfaction. There are a lot of different areas that a vet tech can find alternative career paths than the traditional, working in universities and in animal rights-related industries. An average of 70% of vet techs report high job satisfaction, and up to 83% find their jobs meaningful to the world.
Veterinary Technicians must have an associate’s degree in the field to seek licensure and can obtain that degree from both traditional and online schooling. Veterinary technician programs require a minimum of two years to complete, generally speaking, and most of these programs result in an associate’s degree. In some areas, and in some areas of specialized care, veterinary technologists might need a four-year degree or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology that they obtain from an accredited college or university.