A career as a vet tech is an ideal choice for anyone looking to enter a growing field and has a passion for animals. Did you know that employment for vet techs is anticipated to grow 16 percent through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? With a degree in veterinary technology, you can help all types of animals and work in a variety of environments.
How Do You Become A Vet Tech?
To work as a vet tech, you will first enroll in an accredited vet tech program. You can earn an associate’s degree in less than two years, attending full-time. When you graduate, you must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) to be a Certified Veterinary Technician. The vet tech program will teach you everything you need to know to prepare for the VTNE certification.
What Do You Learn During A Vet Tech Degree Program?
There are many topics that you will learn during a vet tech degree program. From dentistry to surgical assisting, and anesthesiology to small animal emergency. With this knowledge, you will be prepared to take the VTNE and become certified.
Vet tech programs teach animal dentistry to allow a vet tech to properly assess the condition of an animal’s teeth and gums, while preparing feedback for the veterinarian. A vet tech can take ultrasounds and x-rays, perform dental cleanings, and fill medications prescribed by the veterinarian.
X-Rays and Imaging
Taking and developing x-rays and imaging techniques are part of the coursework of a vet tech program. Vet techs take x-rays and images so the veterinarian can diagnose an animal’s illness or injury. A vet tech can specialize in oncology or radiology after earning a degree.
Minor Surgical Assisting
During a vet tech degree program, students learn how to prep animals for surgery, sterilize and prepare the surgical suite, and assist the veterinarian. The vet tech also learns how to monitor the patient during minor surgical procedure.
Animal Anatomy & Physiology
Vet tech students study animal anatomy and physiology to understand how disease and injury can affect an animal’s normal function. They also learn about the treatment and medications that will alleviate the animal’s symptoms and pain.
Anesthesiology and Pain Management
Anesthesiology is mainly used during dental cleanings and minor surgical procedures. Students will learn how to administer anesthesia to animals in the proper dosage according to their species and size.
Small Animal Emergency
Vet techs learn how to care for critically injured and sick animals in emergency clinics and hospitals. Vet tech students learn procedures for treating emergency cases from animals that have been injured to those that have ingested a toxic substance. The vet tech learns how to stabilize the animal in an emergency and accurately report the findings to the veterinarian-in-charge.
Large Animal Care
Large animal care involves farm animals like goats, pigs and cattle. These vet techs also care for horses and other large animals that may be located at a sanctuary or zoo. Vet techs must also learn how to treat exotic and zoo animals like llamas, camels, and deer. If you want to pursue a career as a zoo or exotic animal vet tech, further education is required.
VTNE Prep Course
Licensing exam review for the VTNE is part of the core coursework at many vet tech schools. This course counts as credits toward your degree. After completing the degree program, students are prepared to take the VTNE.
What Can You Do with A Vet Tech Degree?
Once you graduate from a vet tech degree program, there are a lot of options for you to use your skills in different environments. They include:
- Veterinary Practices
- Animal Hospital
- Animal Shelter
Most vet techs work in veterinary practices. Vet techs greet owners and their pets, complete a health history and better understand the chief concern for their visit. The vet tech will weigh the animal and do a preliminary exam, giving feedback to the veterinarian for further examination. In a veterinary practice, vet techs may work on weekends as well as weekday hours.
Vet techs in animal hospitals assist veterinarians in caring for and treating animals. The animals that are treated usually include dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Emergency clinics are often open 24 hours a day so multiple shifts are available.
Vet techs that work in animal shelters are an integral part of the shelter team. Their responsibilities include administering medications to animals that are sick or injured. Some animals arrive at the shelter with injuries. These animals are scared and wary of humans, so vet techs must be patient when caring for them. Shelter vet techs often meet with people at the shelter who want to adopt. They educate prospective pet parents about the animal’s history and needs to ensure they’re being adopted into the best home.
Kennels, Daycare and Boarding Facilities
Vet techs that work in kennels at veterinary hospitals, daycare, or boarding facilities are responsible for the care of the animals. They feed the animals, clean the kennels, and ensure the animals get exercise. They must take care of special dietary needs and medications to keep pets healthy in their care.
Large Animal Facilities
Farm vet techs may work on farms or ranches. However, a lot of vet tech professionals work at animal hospitals or clinics and accompany veterinarians on their rounds. Vet techs that care for farm animals may be responsible for:
- Recording the case histories of animals in a herd
- Checking the animals once a month for any injuries or signs of illness
- Assisting with births
- Providing first aid
- Administering vaccinations
Zoos and Sanctuaries
Zoo vet techs assist veterinarians with examinations, administer medication and vaccines, collect samples and run diagnostic tests, administer fluids, and care for newborn animals. A two-year degree program is a pre-requisite to work as a zoo vet tech, but additional training and a certification are required.
What Skills Will You Master During A Vet Tech Degree Program?
You will learn many skills during a vet tech degree program. These skills include communication, math, problem solving and compassion, to name a few. Mastering this set of skills will prepare you for your first day of your new career.
Skill #1: Communication
Excellent communication skills are essential in a veterinary setting. Vet techs must actively listen to veterinarian’s instructions, so no errors are made. They must also listen to pet parents during vet appointments, to best help the animal in their care. Vet techs must also convey instructions to veterinary assistants, so they understand what’s expected of them.
Skill #2: Math
Math skills are important for vet techs. The veterinary technician must know how to measure the correct dosage of medication to administer to a pet and explain the proper dosage to a pet parent for at home care.
Skill #3: Problem Solving
Problem-solving skills are a necessity for vet techs. The vet tech is the first person to interact with a pet and its owner. When an emergency arises, or a co-worker is sick, the vet tech must keep the veterinary practice running smoothly while ensuring pets and their owners don’t have a long wait.
Skill #4: Compassion
Vet techs interact with veterinarians, co-workers, and clients each day. They must have compassion for all the animals in their care and do their best to put them at ease. However, it’s not always as easy to treat people with the same respect. When a pet owner is distressed over their dog or cat’s illness or injury, it’s important for the vet tech to treat the owner with compassion and help them to remain calm.
Now that you are interested in becoming a vet tech, it is time to prepare for the VTNE exam. The best way to do this is to complete a vet tech program at an accredited vocational school. This program will not only prepare you for the exam but give you the confidence you need to walk into the veterinary practice on day one and hit the ground running.
Veterinary Technician Program
Interested in learning more about becoming a vet tech? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge, qualities 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.