Do you want to work with animals? You can become a vet tech and work with animals daily. There are plenty of careers you can choose to work with animals, but learning to become a vet tech is one of the top choices.
As a vet tech, you will work with licensed veterinarians. You will get the opportunity to work with plenty of different animals. Let’s look at the job duties of a vet tech and the steps for you to become one.
Job Duties of a Vet Tech
Discovering what a vet tech does is the first step to following this career path. Vet techs do quite a few things to assist veterinarians. You will have plenty of job duties, including:
- Taking X-rays
- Bathing and nursing the animals
- Preparing animals for surgery
- Preparing the instruments and the rooms for surgery
- Collecting lab samples
- Performing exams
- Administering medications and vaccines
- Collecting animals case histories
- Observing conditions and behavior in the animals
Depending on the type of veterinarian you work with, you might have these duties and more. There are plenty of things you will be doing to help animals as a vet tech.
How To Become a Vet Tech in 5 Steps
Step #1 – Finish High School
Before you can get into school to become a veterinary technician, you will need to finish high school or equivalent. Without a good GPA and high SAT or ACT scores, you might not get into the program you prefer. A good SAT or ACT prep course can help you score high.
With a high school education, you can move on to a vet tech school.
Step #2 – Get Your Degree in Veterinary Technology
Most vet techs get an associate degree in veterinary technology. This is a two-year degree that will allow you to get some on-the-job training and the right schooling.
You can get a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. With a bachelor’s degree, you can gain access to higher-paying jobs. While it’s not necessary to work as a vet tech, a bachelor’s degree can certainly help your resume.
During your degree programs, you will likely take courses in pathology, anesthesia, animal nursing, anatomy, and animal care. It’s also necessary to complete an externship at an animal hospital or animal clinic. You will gain the necessary hands-on experience during your externship.
Step #3 – Pass the Exam
With the right education and training, you’ll be prepared to take the national exam. All vet techs will need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination. This exam is given by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
You will need to be properly prepared for this exam. Make sure you study the proper subjects before you take the exam. Some of the topics you should study include:
- Dental Procedures
- Lab Procedures
- Animal Nursing
You will take the national exam on a computer.
Step #4 – Keep Your Certifications
After you’ve earned your credentials, you will need to work to keep them. Therefore, some continuing education credits will be necessary. You can get these credits through online or in-person courses. Typically, you can use this additional training to advance your career and ensure you keep your license.
Step #5 – Join an Association
While you don’t have to join an association, you can, and you might want to. Joining an association can help you gain the right job and access the right continuing education courses. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians is a good choice. They welcome new members all year.
You can join this association and gain access to scholarships, educational articles, and so much more. It can help you to build your professional network, as well.
Common Characteristics of Vet Techs
When you decide you want to go into a career as a vet tech, you want to make sure you’re a good fit. There are a few important characteristics you should have to go down this path. Someone that fits well into this profession will be:
- Compassionate – You need to be very compassionate, especially towards animals.
- A Good Communicator – Another characteristic you need is good communication skills. You will need to communicate with pet owners and veterinarians regularly.
- Full of Stamina – Vet techs often spend the entire day or close to it on their feet. You will also need to be able to lift animals regularly and hold them sometimes. With plenty of stamina, you will be able to perform these duties.
- Good at Spotting Details – You will need to observe animals and perform exams. This requires attention to detail. Of course, you will also need this skill to help with administering medication.
There are many characteristics you should have if you want to be a vet tech. These are just a few of the common ones.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Vet Tech
How much can I make as a vet tech?
If you become a vet tech, you can earn an average of $17/hour. Your salary may be higher or lower than this based on your location and your experience level. Vet techs with more experience tend to make an average hourly wage closer to $18 to $20.
Some employers pay more than others, of course. Top employers may pay as much as $25 per hour for vet techs. Your location will also play a role in your pay. New York City tends to pay the highest, with Denver and Las Vegas paying higher than average.
What type of benefits do vet techs get?
Typically, veterinary technicians will gain access to many regular benefits, such as paid time off and a 401(k). Vet techs tend to gain access to employee discounts and a flexible schedule, too. Health insurance, including dental and vision insurance, is also common.
How long will my vet tech program take to complete?
You will likely spend about two years in a vet tech program. Since it’s an associate degree program, you will need two years to complete the program. It’s also possible to earn a bachelor’s degree, which will take four years.
Some areas offer accelerated programs. For example, it’s possible to become a vet tech in less than two years with an accelerated program.
How long will the vet tech exam take to complete?
You will have up to three hours to complete the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam). The exam will include 170 total multiple-choice questions. If you don’t pass the VTNE the first time, you can take it up to four times total.
What is a day like for a vet tech?
A common day for a veterinary technician includes the following:
- Assisting with any physical examinations
- Collecting, labeling, and preparing lab samples
- Restraining animals during surgery and check-ups
- Helping to maintain the necessary equipment
- Keeping surgery suites, holding areas, and exam areas clean
These are the duties you will likely take care of daily. Some duties may not need to be done each day, but others will be done multiple times per day.
What type of things can I do as a vet tech?
As a vet tech, you won’t be able to do everything in a veterinary office. However, you can do the following:
- Groom animals
- Provide care and first aid for recovering animals
- Perform lab tests, including blood and urine tests
- Restrain animals during procedures
- Administer vaccines, medications, and treatments
You will likely never perform surgery or euthanize an animal. Sometimes, you may need to assist the veterinary doctor with these types of procedures. You may be in charge of disposing of the remains, however.
What type of animals will a vet tech work with?
It’s common for vet techs to work with pets. You will likely work with cats and dogs. Some vet techs may work with farm animals, including horses and cattle. Vet techs may also work with mice and other small pets.
What type of hours do veterinary technicians work?
It’s common for a vet tech to work at least 40 hours per week. You will likely work overtime as a vet tech. Most vet techs work weekends, holidays, and evenings, as well. You may have to respond to emergencies, as well.
In some cases, you can work as a part-time veterinary technician. In addition, some clinics will hire part-time vet techs.
Is it possible to work as a vet tech without getting a license?
In some states, you can work without getting a vet tech license. However, most hospitals and animal clinics will require you to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam. Therefore, it’s best to make sure you’re prepared to pass the exam if you want to work as a vet tech.
If you want to work with animals as a vet tech, you can use the steps above. You now have the right plan for how to become a vet tech. This type of career isn’t for everybody, but it can be very rewarding for someone that loves animals and wants to work with them regularly.