Frequently Asked Questions About Vet Tech Career

Q. What is a veterinary technician?
A. Think of what a registered nurse is to human care and this is a close proximaton to what a vet tech does in the animal world. Typically, techs provide valuable assistance to veterinarians performing a number of varied duties when it comes to animal care. Techs work in areas such as laboratory research and services, radiology, anesthesia, med-surgery and general nursing. Technicians also are involved with client education as well as in some situations conduct sales and marketing programs for an animal care business.

Q. What is the difference between a veterinary technician and a veterinary assistant?
A. Techs have generally completed a two-year program of study obtaining an Associate of Science degree. Technicians use skills acquired through college-level study assisting in many critical animal medical care areas. A veterinary assistant typically is responsible for clerical duties and many other non-medical relation functions such as feeding, exercising, bathing as well as aiding techs and vets with duties like obtaining client stats or helping with animal restraint. Read more about differences between vet techs and veterinary assistants.

Q. How’s the job market for vet techs?
A.Veterinary technicians held about 79,600 jobs in 2008. Some 91 percent worked directly in personal veterinary services. The remaining nine percent found employment in zoos, animal shelters, boarding kennels and rescue leagues.
Job prospects. Job prospects remain excellent due to the fact the nation’s training programs are currently not turning our enough qualified candidates each year. The need for trained techs has seen an increase in two-year programs that, nationwide, have now grown to around 160. However, small class sizes account for fewer than 4,000 anticipated graduates per year, a number not meeting current or projected employment demands in this highly-sought after employment sector. Furthermore, a good many vet techs leave the field every year also creating additional job opportunities.

Q. How’s the pay for a vet tech?
A. The latest figures from 2008 reveal vet techs earn a median annual salary of $28,900. The middle of the pack experiences an earnings range from $23,580 to $34,960. The bottom 10 percent earns less than $20,000 while the top 10 percent earn more than $41,000. Additionally, research jobs for vet techs may pay significantly more. Many vet tech professionals take acquired skills an enter animal-based product sales positions where income-earning opportunities are significantly higher as well.

Q. Where can a veterinary technician training program be found?
A. There are currently 90 Veterinary Technology Programs in the United States accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Q. How computer literate need I be to take online vet tech courses?
A. Online Education students should meet the following minimum computer abilities:

  • Word Processing usage such as Microsoft Word or Notepad
  • Copy/Paste skills to transfer written information
  • Saving files in different formats (Word processing, text, JPEG, GIF, etc.)
  • How to make File Attachments to emails
  • File Management such as saving, finding and organizing files using directories
  • Disk Handling
  • Software installation
  • Know how to operate a Mouse using Skills to click, double-click and click and drag
  • General Configuration Knowledge
  • =Understand Internet Terminology
  • Ability to Log In to the Internet
  • Using Browser Software (Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox and others)
  • Web Searching skills using search engine like Yahoo, Bing and Google

Q. Are there other skills needed to be successful participating in an online program?
A. Online Education students must be disciplined for self-study. Additional online learning skills include:

  • Actively enjoy self-motivated learning
  • Be resourceful and self-reliant
  • Disciplined for working independently
  • Productively employ time management
  • Practice effective organizational skills
  • Take full responsibility for all personal learning activity
  • Be capable to critically think

Q. Is hands-on clinical experience necessary?
A. Typically, students enrolled in an online course of study must spend a certain minimum of hours per week in a veterinary facility once qualified to work in one. The facility must have at least one licensed veterinarian who is an AVMA member and must have a minimum of 70 percent of the required equipment. Veterinarians and other staff members must have the time and expertise to assist the student in performing at least 70 percent of the essential skills. Hands-on experience for on-campus programs may vary and is usually incorporated into the curriculum through use of the school’s own facilities. Almost every on-campus school offering vet tech education offers fully functional animal care facilities.

Q. What is the VTNE?
A. The Veterinary Technician National Exam is a certifying test for graduates of an American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVNA) or Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) accredited program that has also been approved by the governing board for the jurisdiction in which a student is located (usually a state licensing board). An application to sit for the exam is available from the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Online Education students are required to complete midterms and final examinations for each course. Examinations must be administered by a commercial testing center or by a full-time university or college faculty member.

Q. How difficult is it to pass the VTNE?
A. Vet techs must have comprehensive knowledge about the handling and care of animals. This knowledge includes understanding both normal and abnormal life processes, demonstrated medical and surgical nursing skills as well as specific knowledge of radiology, anesthesia, animal nutrition and a variety of clinical laboratory procedures plus customer service and client relationship skills. The VTNE will test a candidate’s comprehensive skill and knowledge concerning vet tech employment requirements. Practice tests are available from a variety of sources on the Internet.

Q. What is the veterinary technician’s role in a veterinarian’s practice?
A. According to the AVMA, a vet tech duties re as follows:
“The duties of a veterinary technician shall be performed under the direction, supervision, and responsibilities of veterinarians. These duties shall be accomplished in compliance with federal, state and local laws and shall not include diagnosing, prescribing, or performing surgery.
Examples of areas of responsibility that a registered veterinary technician (RVT) can assume in a veterinary practice are:

  • Physical examination and Patient history
  • Client communication and education
  • Caring for the hospitalized patient
  • Administration of medications and vaccines
  • Clinical laboratory procedures
  • Dental prophylaxis
  • Radiology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Office/Hospital management
Penn Foster College
A.A.S. in Veterinary Technology
Penn Foster College - Distance Learning Program
Become a vet tech in as little as 1 year. The Penn Foster Veterinary Technician associate degree program is fully accredited by the AVMA.
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