What Schooling Do I Need to Become a Vet Tech?
Published on April 7, 2020 by Charlie Buehler
One of the career options for an animal lover who has a passion for science and medicine is to be a certified vet tech. Entering the field of veterinary technology offers graduates the opportunity to work with different animal species and to learn about medical technology that aids in keeping animals healthy.
When you begin your education to become a vet tech, you work to graduate from the program, pass the VTNE, and then prepare to embark on a rewarding career. Most vet tech programs allow students to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology degree at an accredited vocational school in less than two years. You can work with companion animals, farm animals, or exotic species in your choice of different environments.
Why Should You Become A Vet Tech?
As a vet tech you may love being around cuddly kittens and puppies, however you must have a love for all animals. When an animal is sick or injured, they’re often more difficult to handle and you have to prepare yourself for many different scenarios.
One of the most satisfying reasons for you, as an animal lover, to get into the field of veterinary technology is that you get to make a career out of spending time with animals. Your daily activities will revolve around helping animals reach optimum levels of health. You must be open to learning new techniques in veterinary technology to provide quality healthcare for the animals in your practice.
While a love for animals is an essential aspect of being a vet tech, you must communicate effectively with pet owners. When an owner is stressed about their pet, part of your job is to offer reassurance. A little detective work can be helpful. You can gain a better understanding of the issues by asking questions during an evaluation.
One crucial aspect of working as a vet tech is that you can educate pet parents to provide the most compassionate care for their pets. Part of the job involves teaching pet owners about the importance of vaccines, spay/neuter, and proper nutrition for their animals.
An excellent reason to become a vet tech is that veterinary technology is one of the fastest-growing fields in healthcare. The need for qualified vet techs is expected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One of the reasons that the profession is growing is that in the last decade, pet owners have become more knowledgeable about pet health issues, including preventative care.
Technology in veterinary medicine is constantly evolving, which means that veterinarians are able to increase the lifespan of many pets. Pet parents see their animals as family members and want them to have the best possible healthcare. Longer lifespans for pets can also mean more frequent visits to the vet as they age.
Estimates of 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats in homes in the U.S., with the numbers increasing according to the ASPCA, means more animals need good healthcare. Most vets recommend wellness exams every six months for older dogs and cats, and vet techs provide a lot of their care.
Vet techs provide nursing care for pets that free up veterinarians for other duties. Since more of the responsibility for wellness exams, dental procedures, first aid, and other tasks are the responsibility of the vet techs, veterinarians need more qualified veterinary technicians to assist with the daily care of their patients.
Working as a vet tech offers graduates the opportunity for career advancement. Vet techs may choose continuing education to get into a specialty field. By enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program, a vet tech has the opportunity to work in a specialty field which may include:
- Clinical Pathology
- Clinical Practice
- Emergency and Critical Care
- Equine Care
- Internal Medicine
- Veterinary Behavior
- Veterinary Nutrition
- Veterinary Surgery
Some vet tech graduates choose career paths in which they don’t work directly with animals in a practice. They may have careers in research labs or work for public health organizations.
Vocational School Vet Tech Programs and What They Offer
Vet tech programs offer students an excellent learning experience that prepares them to care for and learn about a variety of animal species. The majority of vet techs work in private animal hospitals or emergency clinics. However, the field of veterinary technology has a wide range of specialties that are available to the student who opts for continuing education. Vet techs that specialize may work in research laboratories, zoos, aquariums, wildlife sanctuaries, or horse breeding facilities.
The purpose of an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology degree program is to prepare graduates for entry-level vet tech positions. Students are required to earn credits in general education and core courses. The course is designed to prepare students for the information they’re tested on in the nine domains on the Veterinary Technology National Exam (VTNE). The areas in which students are tested on the VTNE include:
- Pharmacy and Pharmacology
- Surgical Nursing
- Lab Procedures
- Animal Care and Nursing
- Diagnostic Imaging
- Emergency Medicine and Critical Care
- Pain Management
What are the Benefits of Attending a Vet Tech Program?
Earning a degree from an accredited vet tech program has numerous benefits for graduates who want to devote their lives to caring for animals. The job of a vet tech is challenging, and each day offers the opportunity to learn something new. Whether you work in a small animal practice, a zoo, or an emergency clinic, there are endless opportunities to learn about different animal species.
The knowledge and skills that vet techs learn in school benefit them in their careers. Practical courses allow students to have hands-on experience to prepare them for the actual work when they graduate. Graduates of vet tech programs have the chance to work with colleagues who share their love for all animals, whether it’s cats and dogs, farm animals, or exotic species. Colleagues can share their knowledge, which benefits the animals and everyone in the practice.
An accredited vet tech program prepares students to work independently, under a veterinarian’s supervision. Veterinarians depend on their vet techs to handle a lot of the routine care of their patients, which allows them to handle more critical cases. Vet techs must be able to administer vaccines, take samples, assess patients, and manage emergency first aid when necessary.
What are the Skills and Qualities Learned in Vet Tech School?
Even though vet techs work under the supervision of a veterinarian, there are times when they must work independently and be able to understand and follow the instructions of the vet in charge. Testing animals, diagnosing, and treatment are all very specialized, and there’s no room for error. You’re likely to gain new knowledge about a species or procedure by the end of each day.
A vet tech provides a lot of hands-on care for animals. The veterinary technician may have to administer emergency treatment during an initial assessment and administer vaccines or medication. The vet tech is responsible for prepping animals for surgery and ensuring all surgical instruments are properly sterilized and ready for use.
Vet techs must possess knowledge of different species of animals, dog, and cat breeds, and know the most effective way to restrain animals for examinations. The veterinary technician must be familiar with grooming techniques and be able to keep an animal calm when it’s being handled.
Vet techs need strong science and math skills, especially to analyze test results and administer medications. Veterinary technicians must know the proper way to collect urine, tissue, and blood samples and how to perform blood counts and urinalysis.
One of the essential attributes of a vet tech is excellent communication skills. You must communicate effectively with veterinarians, co-workers, and pet owners. You must be able to observe and assess the condition of an animal quickly, especially in an emergency situation. It’s essential to listen to what a pet owner is saying and ask questions so you understand the situation and can convey the information to the veterinarian.
One of the essential personal skills of a successful vet tech is the ability to work under pressure. When you work in a busy practice and are dealing with a pet owner that’s stressed because their cat or dog is sick or injured, the first priority is to keep the animal calm. However, some pet owners take out their frustration on the nearest person, so you must learn to be patient and diplomatic.
Working as a vet tech isn’t just about caring for animals. You must possess excellent organizational skills. A vet tech school prepares students for collecting patient information, recording it accurately in the patient logs, handling lab reports, and correctly take down veterinarian’s instructions. Veterinary technicians often handle duties in the front office, including scheduling appointments, handling patient transactions, and managing the inventory of medications and supplies.
Qualities a Vet Tech Must Possess
Respect is one of the essential qualities of vet techs and can be practiced in school. Showing respect for others starts by listening while others are speaking. If you don’t understand a point someone makes, ask questions in a friendly manner. Sometimes other people have more knowledge of a situation than you do, so give them the benefit of the doubt.
A good example is if a co-worker is handling an animal in a way that you think is inappropriate, ask them why without being judgmental. It could be that the veterinarian specified how the animal should be handled for its safety and the safety of the veterinary technician.
If you notice a co-worker is feeling pressured to complete too many tasks at once. Ask a colleague if they need assistance. Colleagues appreciate offers of assistance when things are hectic. Offering to help a co-worker is a great way to build trust and a positive work environment.
One of the essential traits of a vet tech is self-awareness, a quality everyone should possess. Being honest with yourself about your attitude toward co-workers and pet owners can make a big difference in the environment in which you work.
Did learning about vet tech schooling interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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