Advantages of becoming a veterinary technician include increasing demand and rising salaries, job security and fulfilling one's ambition to work with animals without having to complete a doctoral degree. Disadvantages are relatively low pay in small towns and rural areas, odd work hours, including evenings and weekends, and stress.
Two major advantages to becoming a veterinary technician are job availability and security. There is a great demand for vet techs, most of whom are employed at private clinics. Pet owners continue to pay more each year for their pets' health, creating a larger requirement for more veterinarians and also more vet techs. Participation in preventative care, such as neutering and spaying, and dental care, continues to increase. As of 2005, fewer than 3,000 veterinary technologists and technicians were graduating each year, which did not come close to meeting the demand for 2006. Employment is stable during economic recession, and layoffs are unlikely. An additional financial consideration is that discounts for pet health care and other services such as boarding often are offered from the clinic at which the tech works.
Another advantage includes being able to work with animals without having to complete a doctoral degree. Veterinary schools are very competitive and difficult to gain admission to, expensive, and require rigorous coursework along with extensive science and math knowledge. Many people have a passion for working with animals, and can do so by obtaining a two-year or four-year veterinary technician degree at a technical college.
A vet tech might get a chance to work at a unique place like a zoo, aquarium or wildlife facility, though the competition is keen. Other technicians are employed in biomedical facilities, diagnostic research labs, and large animal shelters. There are opportunities to teach in technical programs or work in sales for pharmaceutical companies.
Many vet techs leave the field after seven or eight years due to factors including relatively low pay outside of large metropolitan areas, along with odd work hours, the physical demands of the job and stress. Some techs conclude that there are easier ways to make money. Full-time salaries for vet techs in 2005 were estimated at an average of about $26,000 a year, with higher pay in big cities and at research laboratories, topping out at around $40,000. Sometimes only part-time positions are offered that can pay as low as $10 or $12 an hour and do not include benefits. Licenses must be renewed every two years for a fee, and some states require continuing education.
Work hours typically include evenings and weekends. Vet techs employed at emergency clinics will be working second and third shifts in addition to weekends. There may be on-call responsibilities with private practices as well.
The work can be stressful, involving encounters with aggressive animals, emergency situations and distraught owners. Vet techs will care for animals who have been neglected and abused. All veterinary staff must have the personal strength to be able to work calmly while dealing with euthanasia and situations with pets who do not survive accidents or surgeries.
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