What exactly is a veterinary technician? A simple definition is that it is “a person trained to assist veterinarians.” The assistant can be called a veterinary technician, a veterinary technologist or even an animal health technologist/technician.
A veterinary technician or a vet tech’s functions can be compared to that of a nurse for humans. The daily work is varied depending on the needs of the patients. In the course of assisting a veterinarian in diagnosing and treating patients, a vet tech also performs other tasks such as physical examinations of the animals, performing some dental procedures, spaying, neutering and providing assistance in the birthing process. Other vet techs can also work in research facilities and zoos.
Becoming a vet tech is an interesting prospect, especially if you love working with animals but do not have the patience to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine which takes a long time to complete.
Here are the steps that you will take to become a veterinary technician:
- While you are still in high school you should take as many science and math courses. You can also get a part-time job in an animal shelter or a local veterinary clinic.
- After graduating from high school, enroll in a 2-year associate degree program in Veterinary Technology in an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited school.
- Apply for a trainee position in a veterinary clinic where you will be under the direct supervision of the veterinarian. You have to gain experience working in an actual clinical setting before you seat for your licensing examination. Some state requires you to have clocked in a specified number of hours of actual clinical work and be sponsored by the veterinarian when you take your examination.
- You should have good communication skills as you will directly deal with pet owners. You should also be able to work as part of a team, have organizational skills and great attention for detail.
- Check with your state what the requirements are for application and sitting for the certification exam. The examination is administered by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners. The laws that govern veterinary technician can differ from state to state.
- When you get credentialed, seek membership in your state’s veterinary technician association. This association represents the interest of veterinary technicians for a state and state representation is very important as they can do the lobbying for your interests.
- As you continue working and gain experience, you may consider continuing your education and eventually seek specialty recognition in fields such as anesthesiology, dentistry, cardiology, zoological medicine, oncology and neurology, among others. Certification also adds titular letters to your name – “VTS” (Veterinary Technician Specialist) and followed by your particular specialty.
- As there is a huge demand for professionals in the field of veterinary medicine, you can further your education and do coursework to be a full-pledged veterinarian.
You need to have the patience and dedication to be a veterinary technician. This is a highly-specialized field and the requirements are rigid. Your personal drive and passion for animals are very important to be able to work in this particular field.