Is Becoming a Vet Tech a Good Career?

Veterinary technicians are similar to registered nurses who work in hospitals. These professionals in veterinary medicine perform the same type of clinical duties such as taking blood or tissue samples, administering medicine through injections, conducting lab tests and assisting Veterinarians (DVMs) with surgical procedures and other animal medical related techniques.

Salary Outlook
Vet Tech Salary
The average salary is about $34,000 a year, which is quite good for an entry level position. Vet techs that become specialists (ie, veterinary dental technicians) can expect a significantly higher pay grade and enhanced employment opportunities.
Listed below are popular specializations and average salaries (note: salaries vary depending on geographical location and experience):

Schools & Training Programs
Becoming a veterinary technician requires a great deal of “dogged” determination, completion of training as well as love of animals that allow personal to become quite comfortable in this choice for career.

If the idea of having to go back to school worries you, also consider the option of becoming a veterinary assistant, which does NOT have any formal educational requirements—all training is done on-the-job.

Love of Animals
You need to have an extreme amount of fondness for animals as well as a high tolerance level for being around them more than you are around human beings. Your day may begin with a sick Labrador, followed by an injured Tabby with a disabled Iguana waiting in the wings. You have to deal with that Mastiff suffered from impacted tooth and then you may need to help a chimpanzee with an injured foot. If you don’t feel comfortable being around sick animals that may be discharging fluids from every orifice of their body, don’t read on.

If You Think Dealing with Humans is Tough
Many nurses contacted through a survey revealed that one of the more difficult challenges that await them during their daily routines is withdrawing blood or taking tissue samples from injured or sick human beings. Multiply the difficulty factor by whatever when it comes to a RVT having to use in a hypodermic needle on a sickly, shivering Chihuahua? it is a huge challenge for veterinary technicians to deal with frightened animals with claws.

Maintain the Record
Veterinary technicians are called upon to do quite a bit of what is considered “clerical” work maintaining charts, recording an animal medical history and filling out daily activity records and other types of information tracking forms. An ability to communicate orally as well as in the written form are necessary skills to become a successful veterinary technician.

Can you Handle Life and Death Situations?
Many veterinary technicians come across something in their daily activity that a lot of registered nurses working with human populations do not have to face. Although both professionals will see their fair share of death on a daily basis, veterinary technicians also have to face the stark reality of euthanasia and must be trained to specifically participate in this unwanted, but necessary part of practicing veterinary medicine. Additionally, veterinary technicians must be strong willed, and possessing the ability to make unresponsive and uncooperative animals to take medicine or administer other medical procedures that these animals try desperately to run from to avoid.

Research is Not for Sissies
Many qualified veterinary technicians working in medical research which employs animals as test subjects. It’s the job of the veterinary technician to administer tests and/or treatments in order to record an animal’s reaction. Often a great deal of this research and treatment causes discomfort for test animals that may affect any individual who never wishes to inflict any kind on upon any living creature.

If You’ve Gotten This Far…
If none of the unpleasant situations compel you to seek a different career choice, see our follow-up article: What steps do I need to take to become a veterinary technician?

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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  • lvt

    what they neglect to tell you is, the fact remains: you will have to always work 2 jobs to maintain a home. You will never own anything on your own without completly dedicating your life. You actually dont need to go to school, by law in some states its “technically” required…trust me, its loosly regarded. I have 7yrs in the field and assistants are constanstly referred to as veterinary technicians. For the level of respect I get for my education, I might as well make pizza. This is from industry colleagues. I have had MANY veterinarians tell me: I dont see a difference between a licensed and unlicensed (formally educated vs trained on the job) technicians. I will admit: Im wiped out – emotionally and financially. I NEVER expected to be wealthy from this career, however I expected that 40hr work week would be sufficient to live modestly. From what I know of colleagues (licensed) in the the field it will take me ~8-10 more years before earning $5 more an hr. Ive worked for both specialty and private practices, more education does not get you anywhere. If you are lucky, you will find a practice that respects the law (possibly because its gotten in legal trouble), you will ALWAYs have roommates or a secondary income on top of your own, and etched a nich in your particular practice that they need and stay long enough for it to be worth it. Its not the poop, the scared animals that act out aggressivly, or the death that has me burnt. All the Vet techs I know who have been in the field for more than 10yrs are angry, bitter, lonely, and very poor. In so far as the plus side: I used to be a very shy, reserved individual. I never cursed at anyone in jest or anger. Ive since learned how to be assertive yet diplomatic, and that I have faced my fears (i.e. I dunno if I can handle an er shift alone with 16-20 post op/icu patients all requiring med care every 1-2 hours) and survived. I can work a 16 hour shift sleep for six and stay awake for another 24hrs. I can look you square in the face and say: I know my limits and they are far, and am up for pretty much any challenge.

    • Guin

      wow. this is eye opening. I have a bachelors degree in business and have always loved animals but I’m also not willing to get back into school for another 4-8 years to become a vet. It seems the only other option is to become a vet tech for no pay. Where are all the in betweens? Even for a vet tech, it sounds like a lot of courses, hours working/interning, and a certified test – for very little pay. I’ve worked as a executive assistant earning $65K with just my business degree. The assistant position was work but anyone who is intelligent can do it.

      I’m kind of on the fence with this. It’s easy to want to do it for the animals but who’s going to be pay rent?

      • Becoming a secretary

        wtf, secretaries make $65k? i dont believe you

      • Stacy Fuller

        what kind of a job does a PA do?

    • krm

      thats pretty depressing

  • Cindy

    I start school July 2011, any advice?

  • Danielle

    I’ve been spending all summer studying the books and preparing for school in the fall. Is it worth it?

    • Ryan

      Any job that pays is good enough for me these days.

  • Donna

    It’s worth it if you know what to expect…

    Expect to make ~$35K a year salary.

    Expect to deal with everything about animals. Cleaning their poop, getting bitten by dogs, seeing pets die…

    Expect for DVMs to make you do all the dirty grunt work while they get all the glory.

    In otherwords, it’s a job. There are good things and bad things, but that’s why you get paid to do it.

  • Vet Tech

    How difficult is the VTNE?

    • Cindy P.

      VTNE is a cinch, your training program should give you a studyguide that prepares you for it.

  • Vet Tech

    Not unless if you work at a zoo!

  • Vet Tech

    Become a vet tech (veterinary technician) in 1 year?

  • gggg

    i’m thinking about becoming a vet tech!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • concerned

    When becoming a vet is there alot of job offers out there in the subject?

  • Sara

    vet tech earns a lot considering the economy and job growth is expected to increase faster than other occupations

  • Stacy Fuller

    Should I become a vet assistant first and then goto vet tech school part time?

    • Rachel

      No. Definitely not. You don’t need any formal training to be a Vet Assistant. If you want to do this I would go straight to the Vet Tech program. It’s an extra year but it’s worth it (and you can do it part time while working at a clinic). Just don’t go for the Vet Assistant first. There’s no point.

    • Shel

      You can do the Vet Assistant Program online via CVMA, that’s what I’m doing. It’s an actual certification…I am doing it while I am in school to be a Vet Tech. I would also suggest beginning to volunteer NOW so that you have your foot in the door. I have been volunteering for 4 months and as soon as they open up a position, they will be hiring me on. I will be a certified Vet Assistant and then an RVT.

  • Torrey_Kimm

    There is not much variation between a licensed Veterinary Technician and a Veterinary Technician. So, there is the hint, if one loves to be with animals (mostly pets) then you can start your career as a Trainee and then later on work yourself up the ladder by pursuing few courses.

  • Ferreria Carla

    im kool i like being a vet

  • Katie

    thinking about going to bradford to be a vet tech but im worried about the intense class scheduling

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  • Kristin <3

    it look’s like if your going to be a vet you need to have a couple degree’s but if you really want to be a ver then you would really go that far and get those degree’s i’m willing to take 10 years for this job that the max

  • Blazestar97

    I really with exotic animals (like in a zoo) would I have to take different classes?

  • Rnford1031

    You only become wiped out financially when you take on more than you can handle financially. Then they blame their jobs for not paying enough. Be lucky you are even employed.

  • ginadoumisss33

    I would like to know where these people are getting the salary of a vet tech at $35,000. I have graduated from a vet tech program, am passed my boards in Nebraska, and the highest paid job they offer to LVT’s in Omaha and Lincoln is $12/hr. AND NO BENEFITS. The unlicensed “techs” start at $10. Be sure you know what you are getting into when you start school. Is it worth the money, headaches, bodily injury and enormous amounts of stress to get out and get paid squat?? And might I add, even if you went to school, most doctors still treat you as incompetent.

  • dnott

    I am planning on becoming a Vet assistant. I have been working in mental health as a social worker for a very long. I’m underpaid and overworked, plus get no thanks for what we do. I’ve always wanted to work with animals so I am looking forward to a change.