Veterinary technicians are commonly referred to as vet techs. They play a very important role in veterinary hospitals, zoos, rescue leagues and boarding kennels. Their main task is to provide assistance to the specialist veterinarian with various tasks that may include taking X-rays, setting broken bones, conducting blood tests, taking temperatures and other things as required for the treatment and healthcare of animals.
In order to become a veterinary technician, you have to go through intensive training. Following is a brief rundown on some of the basic steps you must follow before, during and after joining a veterinary school.
Tips to become a Veterinary Technician
In order to enroll in a veterinary technician training program, you must first complete an associate’s degree or at least a certificate program in a related subject like humanities, biology, chemistry and microbiology.
Join a Veterinary Technician Training School
Veterinary schools offer an array of courses for vet techs, such as 4-year degree, 2-year associate degree and even short-term certificate programs in veterinary technology. To maximize your opportunities, you should go for the 4-year degree program. This is especially all the more important for those who want to work as a vet tech in research laboratories. Distance learning programs are also available.
If you are considering enrolling in such programs, make sure they are dully accredited by AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). Whether you go for traditional programs or distance learning programs, in either case, you will have to complete an internship at a local veterinary hospital or clinic before you can apply for your first job as a veterinary technician. This internship is also termed as preceptorship or clinical component.
During the internship, you work under the supervision of an experienced veterinarian and get an opportunity to perform various laboratory procedures, such as dental cleanings, drawing blood and other such things. This hands-on training helps you to improve your clinical skills.
In most states, obtaining a certification is legally mandatory for veterinarian technicians. To obtain it, you have to appear and pass the National Veterinary Technician Exam (NVTE) and a state-specific certification exam. While many states issue a certificate on the basis of your performance in NVTE only, other states require you to pass an additional certification exam also.
Finding a Job
Most veterinary training schools offer placements for their successful students.
So, after you have obtained your degree, completed the hands-on training and obtained a certification, you can easily find a veterinary technician job through your college’s career placement office. Alternatively, you can look for job vacancies advertised in newspapers and apply directly.
Advanced certifications are required for those who want to make a career in a specific field in veterinary medicine. For example, if you want to work in research settings, you will first have to gain at least two years of relevant experience. Then, you will have to pass a specialty certification exam, conducted by the AALAS (American Association for Animal Science).
Likewise, the eligibility requirements to work as a specialist vet tech in veterinary emergency and critical care include completing 25 hours of advance training program, gaining three years of relevant experience and passing a certification exam conducted by the AVECCT (Academy of Veterinary Emergency And Critical Care Technicians.
Other areas of specialization include clinical pathology, surgery, dentistry, biomedical research, avian medicine and zoo keeping. In order to become a successful veterinary technician, you must also posses certain basic skills. For example, you must be a genuine animal lover and passionate about improving animal welfare.