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How to Become a Veterinary Technician

April 28, 2014 General 0 Comments

How to Become a Veterinary TechnicianIf you love the idea of a career working with animals but feel overwhelmed at the prospect of spending seven or eight years in school to become a full-fledged veterinarian, there is a great entry-level alternative you should consider: veterinary technician. In as little as two years, you could be working in a veterinary clinic doing a job you love.

What Qualities Make a Good Veterinary Technician?

Before enrolling in a training program, make sure you have the right qualities to excel in this field. Animals are your primary patients, but you have to be able to communicate effectively with the owners, who may be under a great deal of stress from the illness or injury of their beloved pet. In any health care-related field, you need to have great attention to detail. Part of this job includes regularly creating and managing detailed medical records and reviewing results of labs or diagnostic tests. The manual dexterity to use equipment and instruments for treatments such as injections, X-rays or dental care is another basic but crucial skill.

What Education Do I Need?

To enter this profession, you need training beyond a high school diploma or GED. You can get a job as a veterinary technician with an associate degree, which can be completed in as little as two years. As of 2013, there are 217 accredited veterinary technician programs to choose from. There are also 22 colleges that offer a bachelor's degree for this career, which you might consider if you want to go on to veterinary school later on.

Do I Need to be Licensed or Certified?

Certification requirements vary from state to state, but in most states you will need to pass an exam that demonstrates your competency. The most common test for certification is the Veterinary Technician National Examination. If you're interested in working in research, there are three levels of certification testing offered by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.

What Are My Job Prospects?

There's plenty of good news for veterinary technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency reports the job outlook for this profession has an expected growth rate of 30 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much higher than the national average. And, as of 2012, you can expect to earn an average wage of $14.56 per hour.

Becoming a veterinary technician is a great way to get into your dream industry quickly and find out whether you want to pursue a career as a veterinarian. If you do go on to veterinary school, you will have a great head start with your knowledge from your on-the-job training, and the peace of mind of knowing you made the perfect career choice before you even graduate school.

Photo credit: Flickr

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