If you love animals and have a genuine interest in helping them, a career as a vet tech could be the perfect choice for you. Getting started with this kind of career isn’t easy, however.
The good news is that the job market for vet techs is booming. Competition can be fierce when trying to get your foot in the door at a vet clinic, animal hospital or animal care center.
An entry-level vet tech position will usually require an associate degree or certificate in veterinary technology, along with previous work experience in another field or as part of an unrelated technical certification program. This guide will help you understand what it takes to become a vet tech, along with providing some useful tips so you can begin your new career sooner rather than later.
A Beginners Guide to Getting Started
If you love animals and have a genuine interest in helping them, a career as a vet tech could be the perfect choice for you. Getting started with this kind of career isn’t easy, however. The good news is that the job market for vet techs is booming.
Competition can be fierce when trying to get your foot in the door at a vet clinic, animal hospital or animal care center. An entry-level vet tech position will usually require an associate degree or certificate in veterinary technology, along with previous work experience in another field or as part of an unrelated technical certification program.
This guide will help you understand what it takes to become a vet tech, along with providing some useful tips so you can begin your new career sooner rather than later.
What Does A Vet Tech Do?
Before we can dive into the nitty-gritty of how to become a vet tech, it’s important to understand what the job actually entails.
The primary role of a veterinary technician is to provide support to veterinarians during surgery, vaccination, prescription drug administration and other procedures.
The job also includes general care for animals in the clinic and/or hospital, along with cleaning and sterilization.
Due to the highly regulated environment of a vet clinic, you will also have to follow strict health and safety protocols at all times. A vet tech’s responsibilities can vary by state and region. In many cases, the job will also require that you work with a wide range of different animals, including dogs, cats, horses, reptiles and even exotic species.
Most vet techs work a full-time schedule of 40 hours per week, along with some weekends and evenings. Most clinics are open 6 or 7 days per week, 24 hours a day. This can be a very challenging and demanding career, but it is also very rewarding.
How to Become a Vet Technician
Becoming a vet tech is a challenging, yet achievable goal. You can begin the process by enrolling in a veterinary technician school or program. Vet tech schools are available at the associate degree and certificate level. Associate degree programs are usually 2-year full-time course of study, whereas certificate programs are typically 1-year full-time programs.
You will learn about animal anatomy and physiology, veterinary terminology, disease prevention, clinical pathology and laboratory procedures. You will also learn about the administration and dosage of various medications and vaccinations. As with many technical careers, you can become certified through a trade association.
The American Association of Veterinary Technicians in Society (AAVTS) certifies vet techs who have met their educational and examination requirements. In most states, you will also be required to pass a criminal background check and have a current tetanus vaccination.
The only other thing you will need to do is find a job. Vet techs are in high demand, and the job market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Finding an employer may be challenging, but it is definitely possible.
Steps to Become a Vet Tech
Here are some steps you can take to get your career in veterinary technology off the ground:
- – Contact your state veterinary medical board to get a copy of the Veterinary Technician Education Requirements in your area. This will show you how many hours of specified coursework you will need to complete in order to earn a veterinary technician license.
- – Select a veterinary technician school or program that meets the above requirements. There are hundreds of veterinary technician schools across the country. Vet tech programs come in many different shapes and sizes, so it is important to find one that is a good fit for you.
- – Get your financial situation in order. Veterinary technician programs may be relatively affordable, but they are not free. A good rule of thumb is to expect to spend around $10,000 on educational expenses, including tuition, books and lab fees.
- – Start your research. Vet tech schools and programs are very different from one another. You should do as much research as possible before settling on one. Some things to consider are the program’s tuition, location, accreditation, graduation rates, available financial aid, and its overall reputation.
- – Get your documents in order. You will also need to submit an application for admission to the vet tech program of your choice. Applicants usually need to provide information about their current education, work experience and any applicable certificates or licenses.
Veterinary technician certification is not required in every state. However, many employers still prefer to hire vet techs who are certified. There are two major credentialing organizations that certify veterinary technicians: the AAVTS and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
The AAVTS offers three different certification levels: Veterinary Assistant (VT), Veterinary Technician (VT) and Veterinary Technologist (VT-A). The VT and VT
-A certification require that you have at least 2 years of experience in the field. You will also need to meet the education requirements listed in the “Steps to Become a Vet Tech” section above.
The VT-A certification is the highest certification level available. This certification requires that you complete an additional 3-year sequence of advanced coursework.
The Path to Becoming a Vet Tech
Becoming a vet tech is a challenging and rewarding career. You will have to put in some time and effort, but the end result is well worth it. Here are some things you can do to ensure your success:
- – Stay on top of your education. Vet techs must stay up to date with the latest techniques and procedures. You don’t want to find yourself behind the 8-ball with new developments and advancements in the field.
- – Build your experience. A strong work ethic will be very valuable as you start your career. You will also need to show your employers that you are capable of handling a variety of different tasks.
- – Keep track of your progress. You should keep track of all the steps you take to become a vet tech. This will help you stay organized and on track.
- – Be prepared to face challenges. Becoming a vet tech is not easy. You will face challenges along the way to becoming a vet tech, and these challenges will test you like nothing else has before. The good news is that most of these challenges are not impossible to overcome.
If you want to become a vet tech and have the passion, drive and determination to do it, then you should follow the steps outlined in this guide. Vet techs are in high demand, and the job outlook is positive. If you are serious about this career, then you will have no trouble finding employment.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand what it takes to become a vet tech and the best path to follow. Now is the time to get started on your journey to becoming a vet tech.