Considering Work as a Veterinary Technologist or Technician?
Nature of the Work
Today’s pet owners and people taking care of other animals count on higher veterinary care. Veterinarians utilize the skills of veterinary technologists and technicians to provide the care people are expecting. Veterinary technologists and technicians execute many of the same obligations for a veterinarian that a nurse would for a physician. However particular job obligations differ by employer, there is frequently little difference between the duties done by technicians and technologists, in spite of differences in formal education and training. On the other hand, nearly all technicians work in private clinical practice while many technologists have the choice to work in more advance research-related jobs.
Veterinary technologists and technicians usually carry on clinical work in a private practice under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Veterinary technologists and technicians frequently do several medical tests and treat and examine medical conditions and diseases in animals. As an example, they may do laboratory tests like urinalysis and blood counts, help with dental care, ready tissue samples, extract blood samples, and help veterinarians in a diversity of other diagnostic tests. While nearly all of these obligations are done in a laboratory setting, many of them are not. An example would be, some technicians record patients’ care histories, expose and develop x rays and radiographs, and offer specialized nursing care. Furthermore, seasoned veterinary technologists and technicians helping small-animal practitioners generally care for small pets, like cats and dogs, although can carry out a variety of duties with mice, rats, pigs, cattle, sheep, birds, monkeys, birds, and frogs. Very few veterinary technologists work in combined animal practices whey they care for both small pets and large, non-domesticated animals.
In addition to working in private clinics and animal hospitals, a number of veterinary technologists and technicians work in research facilities under the supervision of veterinarians or physicians. In this situation, they may administer medications, set samples for laboratory examinations, or enter information on an animal's genealogy, weight, diet, food intake, medications, and clinical signs of pain and distress. Some may carry out sterilization of laboratory and surgical equipment and offer routine postoperative care. From time to time, veterinary technologists vaccinate freshly admitted animals and they may have to euthanize severely injured, seriously ill, or unwanted animals.
While the target of most veterinary technologists and technicians is to push animal health, some contribute to human health, also. Veterinary technologists usually help veterinarians in carrying out research projects as they put their heads together with other scientists in medical-related fields like gene therapy and cloning. Some seek opportunities in biomedical research, pharmaceutical sales, livestock management, wildlife medicine, and progressively, in bio-security and disaster preparedness.
Although people who love animals get gratification from caring for them, some of the work may be unpleasant, physically and emotionally demanding, and at times unsafe. Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that full-time veterinary technologists and technicians have gone through a work-related injury and illness rate that was much higher than the national average. Occasionally, veterinary technicians must clean cages and hold, lift, or restrain animals - risking vulnerability to bites or scratches. These workers must take safeguards when caring for animals with germicides or insecticides. They can have a very noisy work setting.
Emotional stress can be experienced by veterinary technologists and technicians who witness abused animals or who euthanize unwanted, aged, or hopelessly injured animals. Those involved in humane societies and animal shelters usually deal with the public, some of whom might react with aggression to any insinuation that the owners are disregarding or maltreating their pets. Workers exposed to these situations must maintain a calm and professional conduct while they implement the laws about animal care.
In several animal hospitals, animal shelters, and research facilities, a veterinary technician is on duty 24 hours a day, which entails that some work night shifts. Nearly all full-time veterinary technologists and technicians are on duty 40 hours a week, however some work 50 or more hours a week.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Education and training. Nearly all entry-level veterinary technicians have a 2-year associate degree from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-certified community college program in veterinary technology in which courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings practicing on live animals. Presently, about 20 colleges provide veterinary technology programs that are longer and that end up in a 4-year bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. These 4-year colleges, coupled with some vocational schools, also offer 2-year programs in laboratory animal science. Around 10 schools offer distance learning.
Approximately 160 veterinary technology programs in 45 States were certified by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2009. Graduation from an AVMA-certified veterinary technology program permits students to take the credentialing exam in any State in the country.
One should take as many high school sciences, biology, and math courses as possible, for those thinking of veterinary technologists and technicians as a career. Science courses taken after high school, in an associate or bachelors degree program, should put emphasis on skills in a clinical or laboratory setting.
Technologists and technicians generally start work as trainees under the direct guidance of a veterinarian. Entry-level workers whose training or educational background includes thorough hands-on experience with diagnostic and medical equipment generally demand shorter period of on-the-job training.
Licensure and certification. Each State oversees veterinary technicians and technologists in a different manner; on the other hand, all States demand them to pass a credentialing exam following coursework. Passing the State exam guarantees the public that the technician or technologist has enough knowledge to work in a veterinary clinic or hospital. Candidates are examined for capability by means of an examination that involves oral, written, and practical portions and that is managed by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners or the suitable State agency. Depending on the State, candidates may attain registered, licensed, or certified. Nearly all States, on the other hand, utilize the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. Prospects typically can have their passing scores transmitted from one State to another, so long as both States utilize the same exam.
Employers suggest American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certification for those seeking employment in a research facility. AALAS provides certification for three levels of technician ability, with a concentration on three most important areas—animal husbandry, facility management, and animal health and welfare. Those who desire to become certified must meet a mixture of education and experience demands before taking the AALAS examination. The work experience gained must be directly akin to the maintenance, health, and well-being of laboratory animals and must be acquired in a laboratory animal facility as described by AALAS. Candidates who satisfy the necessary criteria can start following the desired certification on the basis of their qualifications. The Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT) is the lowest level of certification, while the Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) is the second level, and the Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG) being the highest level of certification. The AALAS examination is made of multiple-choice questions and is longer and more confounding for higher levels of certification, ranging from 2 hours and 120 multiple choice questions for the ALAT, to 3 hours and 180 multiple choice questions for the LATG.
Other qualifications. As veterinary technologists and technicians frequently face pet owners, communication skills are very important. Furthermore, technologists and technicians should be able to work well with others, since teamwork with veterinarians and other veterinary technicians is ordinary. Organizational capability and the ability to attend to detail also are crucial.
Advancement. As they acquire experience, technologists and technicians accept more responsibility and accomplish more assignments with little guidance from a veterinarian. Some eventually may advance to becoming supervisors.
In 2008, veterinary technologists and technicians secured approximately 79,600 jobs. Nearly 91 percent worked in veterinary services. The rest got involved in animal shelters, boarding kennels, rescue leagues, and zoos.
Employment change. Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to increase 36 percent over the 2008-18 estimation period, which is much quicker than the average for all occupations. Pet owners are turning generous and more willing to pay for advanced veterinary care since a lot of them think of their pet to be part of their family. This increasing generosity and view of pets will persist to raise the requirement for veterinary care. The very large majority of veterinary technicians work at private clinical practices under veterinarians. As the number of veterinarians increases to satisfy the requirement for veterinary care, so will the number of veterinary technicians needed to help them.
The number of pet owners who exhaust veterinary services for their pets is assumed to increase over the estimation period, escalating employment opportunities. The opportunity of advanced veterinary services, such as preventive dental care and surgical procedures, also will extend favorable circumstances for workers specializing in those areas as they will be required to help licensed veterinarians. The increasing number of cats kept as companion pets is assumed to enhance the requirement for feline medicine and services. Additional requirement for these workers will come from the urge to substitute veterinary assistants with more highly skilled technicians in animal clinics and hospitals, boarding kennels, shelters, animal control facilities, and humane societies. Increased advocacy for public health, food and animal safety, and national disease control programs, coupled with biomedical research on human health problems, also will add to the requirement for veterinary technologists, however the number of positions in these field are a handful than in private practice.
Job prospects. Wonderful job opportunities are assumed due to the nearly few veterinary technology graduates each year. The number of 2-year programs has currently increased to approximately 160, but because of small class sizes, lesser than 3,800 graduates are expected each year, a number that is not anticipated to satisfy demand. Furthermore, a lot of veterinary technicians stay in the field less than 10 years, so the requirement to replenish workers who leave the occupation each year also will create many job opportunities.
Veterinary technologists also will take pleasure in great job opportunities because of the approximately few graduates from 4- year programs—around 500 yearly. On the other hand, unlike veterinary technicians who typically work in private clinical practice, veterinary technologists will have more desirable opportunities for research jobs in an assortment of settings, involving diagnostic laboratories, biomedical facilities, drug and food manufacturing companies, wildlife facilities, and food safety inspection facilities.
Regardless of the nearly less number of graduates each year, extreme competition is in the cards for veterinary technician jobs in zoos and aquariums, because of assumed slow increase in facility capacity, low output among workers, the confined number of positions, and the fact that the work in zoos and aquariums draw many candidates’ attention.
Employment of veterinary technicians and technologists is bordering on stable during periods of economic recession. Layoffs are less likely to happen among veterinary technologists and technicians than in some other occupations since animals will keep on needing medical care.
In May 2008, average yearly pays of veterinary technologists and technicians were $28,900. The middle 50 percent took home between $23,580 and $34,960. The bottom 10 percent gained less than $19,770, and the top 10 percent enjoyed more than $41,490. Veterinary technologists in research jobs may have the advantage of earning more than veterinary technicians in other types of jobs.