Veterinary Paramedic: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a veterinary paramedic. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and salary information. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Veterinary Paramedic?

Veterinary paramedics are individuals who work in the veterinary field and treat animals in emergency situations. Some specific job options for individuals looking to work as a veterinary paramedic include veterinary assistant, veterinary technician or technologist and emergency veterinarian.

Emergency veterinarians play a leading role in emergency situations; they examine animals in order to diagnose their condition and develop a treatment plan. This can include bandaging wounds, performing surgery or prescribing medication. Veterinary assistants work alongside veterinarians to help animals in emergency situations. They are qualified to provide emergency first aid and administer medications that veterinarians have prescribed. Veterinary technologists and technicians also play supportive roles in emergency situations. They may administer medications, give anesthesia or restrain animals during emergency procedures.

The table below outlines the general requirements for these career options.

Veterinary Assistant Veterinary Technician or Technologist Emergency Veterinarian
Education Required No formal education requirement Associate's degree (veterinary technician)
Bachelor's degree (veterinary technologist)
Doctoral degree
Education Field of Study N/A Veterinary technology (for both technicians and technologists) Veterinary medicine
Other Requirements On-the-job training Licensure, certification or registration requirements vary by state, work experience required Complete emergency care training program, pass certification test, secure licensure
Key Responsibilities Examine and feed animals, provide care following surgery, give medicine and monitor recovery Treat animals, carry out tests under veterinarian's guidance, give anesthesia, help with surgeries or animal resuscitation Give emergency treatment to injured or ill animals, mend wounds, treat serious illnesses, perform surgery
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%* 19%* 9%*
Median Salary (2015) $24,360* $31,800* $88,490*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Responsibilities Be as a Veterinary Paramedic?

Veterinary paramedics include the veterinary assistants, veterinary technicians or technologists and veterinarians who provide emergency care to animals. Veterinary assistants examine and feed animals. In this job, you could care for animals following surgery, giving medicines and monitoring recovery. You could hold patients during procedures, sterilize equipment and clean animal pens, operating rooms and exam areas.

Veterinary technicians and technologists give the same care to animal patients that nurses give to human patients. Veterinary technicians and technologists perform similar duties, but technicians study for two years and technologists study for four. As an emergency technician or technologist, you can treat animals and carry out tests under the guidance of a veterinarian. You might give anesthesia, take x-rays, fill medicine prescriptions, gather blood samples or update medical histories. You could help a veterinarian in surgeries and resuscitate animals.

Emergency veterinarians care for animals with life-threatening problems. They give emergency treatment to injured or ill animals. They mend wounds, treat serious diseases, set broken bones and perform surgery.

What Education Do I Need?

It is recommended that you complete a certificate program at a college or technical school to work as a veterinary assistant. These programs include studying in the classroom and lab, plus gaining hands-on experience at animal hospitals.

To work as a veterinary technician, you need an associate's degree in veterinary technology from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). To work as a veterinary technologist, you need a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology from a program accredited by the AVMA.

Technicians and technologists are regulated in all states, but the specifics vary. You need to pass an exam to get licensed, certified or registered in the state where you will work. After meeting requirements for work experience and continuing education in emergency care, you can seek certification from the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians (AVECCT).

To work as an emergency veterinarian, you must earn a bachelor's degree or at least 45 college credits in pre-veterinary courses at the undergraduate level. You also need to study for four years at an AVMA-accredited school to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. According to the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC), you also need at least three more years of special training in emergency care by completing a training program approved by ACVECC (www.acvecc.org). You then must successfully complete ACVECC's certification test. All states mandate licensing for veterinarians.

What Pay Could I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2015 that veterinarian assistants earned $24,360 as a median annual pay (www.bls.gov). The median salary for veterinary technicians and technologists was $31,800, the BLS reported. Veterinarians earned a median yearly wage of $88,490.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As a veterinarian, you could choose to specialize your practice in an area of the field that does not involve emergency care. For instance, as a food safety veterinarian, you might inspect farms where animals are being raised as food sources and administer vaccines to animals in order to prevent disease outbreaks. As with any veterinarian job, this requires a DVM degree and a license. At a lower level, you could consider becoming a laboratory animal caretaker in a research setting, where you would be responsible for feeding animals, cleaning their ages and monitoring their behavior. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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