Veterinary Technician And Technologist, What Is The Difference

Modern veterinary care is a very complex field dedicated to providing high-quality care to pets, livestock, zoo animals and other creatures, utilizing some of the most advanced technology in the world.

Whether in a rural veterinary care clinic or an urban veterinary hospital, vets, vet techs and veterinary assistants provide excellent care for the beloved pets of America.

One of the most important professions in this field is the veterinary technician. As a professional veterinary care provider, the vet tech serves a vital role in ensuring the best possible care for animals of all types.

The Vet Tech’s Professional Duties

Vet techs undertake a wide variety of duties while working with veterinarians, veterinary assistants and other veterinary care professionals. In most cases, a vet tech must be under the direction of a licensed veterinarian, although some states allow them to perform certain duties without supervision.

Among the most common duties a vet tech may perform are the following:

  • Vet techs carry out the initial physical examination of newly admitted animals, and record that information for later use by the veterinarian.
  • Vet techs may administer drugs that have been prescribed by the vet. In addition, some states allow vet techs to administer routine vaccinations to pets and other animals.
  • Vet techs administer tests under the direction of the supervising veterinarian and prepare the samples for delivery and testing. They also help record the results of those tests for later use by the vet.
  • When injured animals are admitted to the practice, vet techs will provide emergency first aid to stabilize the animal for later treatment by the veterinarian.
  • Vet techs assist vets before, during and after surgical procedures.

Vet Tech Specialties

In addition to their regular duties, many vet techs choose to obtain extra training in one or more specialties in order to become a certified vet tech specialist.

These specialties cover a wide variety of fields, ranging from surgical procedures to internal medicine. In most cases, becoming a vet tech specialist requires several years of experience as a vet tech, in addition to advanced education in the vet tech’s intended specialty.

Becoming a Vet Tech

In most cases, becoming a vet tech requires the following steps. The candidate must have graduated from high school or be in possession of a GED, be at least 18 years of age, and have completed a veterinary technology program.

Many states also require candidates to obtain a state license or certification in order to be allowed to practice as a vet tech.

State standards can change over time, so it is important that any individual who is planning to become a vet tech consult with his or her state licensing bureau to obtain up to date information on the requirements for becoming a vet tech.

Veterinary Technology Programs

Vet tech programs are offered by a variety of educational institutions, including two-year colleges, vocational institutions and adult education programs. In general, a full time program will take about two years for the student to complete. However, many programs will allow students to attend on a part time basis, which is especially beneficial for students who are currently working or otherwise unable to attend class on a regular schedule.

It is extremely important that a student only attend an accredited veterinary technology program. Vet tech programs are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which ensures that they provide a high quality education to their students. Most state licensure agencies will not accept non-accredited programs, which make it vital that the student verify that his or her program is currently in good standing with the AVMA.

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The Veterinary Technician National Examination

The Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) is a nationally administered exam for vet techs. Most state and private certification programs require passage of the VTNE. The VTNE is provided and designed by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) and is regularly updated to account for changes in the field of veterinary medicine.

The VTNE is a comprehensive test that evaluates the vet tech’s academic and practical skills. In most cases, a score of at least 425 is required to pass the VTNE. While it is possible to repeat a failed test, the AAVSB and state licensing boards both have the right to restrict the number of times a student can retake the test. For this reason, it is important that a vet tech candidate only take the VTNE when he or she is confident about passing it.

State Jurisprudence Exams

Some state boards also require that the student take a state jurisprudence exam, which evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of the vet tech’s responsibilities and rights under state law. In most cases, this is an open book test and some states allow the vet tech to take the test at home before mailing it in. In general, state jurisprudence exams can be repeated as many times as needed by the candidate.

Becoming Certified in Non-Certification States

While not all states require that the vet tech be certified or licensed to practice, it is still wise to seek out certification. Most states have local vet tech associations that are allowed to certify vet techs that meet their requirements and certification dramatically improves the veterinary technician’s career and salary options.

Additionally, if a vet tech has to move to another state, being certified makes it more likely that the destination state will allow licensure by endorsement, accepting the vet tech’s current certification as valid, rather than demanding that he or she repeat the entire certification process.

The Benefits of Becoming a Veterinary Technician

Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the field of veterinary technology is growing at a faster than average rate. In addition, the annual median wage for vet techs is over $29,000, making this field very competitive with other professions that demand a similar level of education.

Finally, the veterinary technician is part of a very well regarded field. As one of the primary professions involved in providing high quality care to America’s beloved companion animals, the vet tech is respected by his or her fellow professionals and neighbors alike.

When combined with the promising career and salary options veterinary technology offers, this makes it an extremely attractive field for anyone seeking to enter the world of veterinary medicine.

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