Veterinary Technician Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a veterinary technician degree. Read on to learn more about career options along with licensing, certification and salary information. Schools offering Veterinary Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Do?

Veterinary technologists and technicians have a few significant differences in responsibilities, but in an overall sense they both are put in charge of conducting medical tests on ill or injured animals. They both assist in diagnosing what is wrong with animals as well as administer the appropriate medicines. The difference between a technologist and technician is technologists are more likely to work in advanced research within a lab setting, while technicians are more likely to work in veterinary clinical offices. The following chart provides additional information about both these careers.

Veterinary Technician Veterinary Technologist
Degree Required Associate's Bachelor's
Key Responsibilities Take animal history, assist the vet, perform tests, discuss pet health with owner Perform lab work and tests, prepare samples, nurse sick and injured animals
Licensure and Certification Licensure required Licensure required, certification optional to work in a lab
Job Outlook (2014-24) 19% (much faster than average) for vet technicians and technologists combined* 19% (much faster than average) for vet technicians and technologists combined*
Median Salary (May 2015) $31,800 for vet technicians and technologists combined* $31,800 for vet technicians and technologists combined*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Veterinary Technician Major?

The veterinary technology major prepares graduates for careers in veterinary clinics, working with animals and running the business side of the clinic. An internship or preceptorship is usually required, so students can gain hands-on experience working with animals in a medical setting. Schools may assist students in securing an internship.

What Career Options Are Available?

Veterinary technologists and technicians both may also be referred to as vet techs. The BLS says that in 2014, 91% of vet techs worked in veterinary offices, animal hospitals and other veterinary service outlets. Other possible places of employment for vet techs include zoos, aquariums, kennels, public and private animal shelters and nonprofit humane organizations like rescue societies.

What Might My Duties Be?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) describes the role of vet techs as being very similar regardless of education level (www.avma.org). These professionals are supervised by and provide support to veterinary doctors. They may also be responsible for non-medical aspects of running a vet clinic, like practice management, sales or supervision of employees. The BLS notes technologists may be qualified for more advanced positions in research and other areas that may not be open to technicians.

How Much Can I Earn?

The BLS states that there were 95,790 veterinary technicians and technologists employed in 2015. Those vet techs earned a median of $31,800 in 2015, or $15.29 an hour. Earnings can vary by location, according to BLS data. For example, in 2015, vet techs in Alaska earned the highest hourly median wage of $20.24.

What Are My Licensing and Certification Options?

Veterinary technicians must be licensed in the state where they wish to practice, according to the BLS, and the licensure test for every state includes written, oral and practical portions. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards administers the Veterinary Technician National Exam (www.aavsb.org). If you seek a position at a research facility, certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) is a path to explore, according to the BLS. The AALAS offers several certifications, including Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (www.aalas.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are quite a few similar careers that require the same level of education, such as being a radiologic and MRI technologist. Radiologic and MRI technologists assist doctors by using X-rays or MRI scanners, respectively, to help diagnose patients, and require an associate's degree. You may also want to consider becoming a clinical laboratory technologist or technician, who perform diagnostic tests to samples collected from patients, such as tissue or body fluids. These jobs require obtaining a bachelor's degree in medical technology. If you would want to become an actual veterinarian, it would require obtaining a doctoral degree, while becoming a veterinary assistant requires only 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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