For Starters: What is a Veterinary Technician?

Veterinary technicians are responsible for assisting the office in helping to take care of the animals that are in the clinic. They work under the veterinarians, but serve as an aid in the treatment of animals, giving shots and prepping the animal for any procedures or surgeries. A vet tech will also offer assistance to the veterinarian in the operating room during a surgery or procedure.


Typically, you and your pet will see a veterinary technician before you will see a veterinarian. The vet technician is usually the one who communicates to the veterinarian about the specifics of the pet. Because of this, the veterinarian technician is most likely to have a stronger relationship with the owner and the pet, than a veterinarian would.

A day in the life

You have to admit, working with animals is not the job for everyone. Some people love animals and others do not, so it takes a someone special to be able to do this work everyday. If you are an animal lover and have considered working with animals, a great job to look into is a veterinary technician. It goes without saying that if you are looking into becoming a vet tech, you must be comfortable with blood and the systems of the body. If you are not comfortable with this, maybe this career path is not for you. On a daily basis, the sky’s the limit as to what you might see when working as a vet tech.

Daily Tasks Include

Point of contact for client

Draw Blood

Take and analyze x-rays

Monitor vital signs

Assist in surgeries

Administer vaccines

Education Requirements

There are two options available to vet technicians. You can choose from either a degree or certificate program, which both take around 2 years to finish. There are many places that you can potentially go to earn a degree or certificate in veterinary medicine. To find the best school for veterinary technician programs, you must think about many different components such as location, cost, and the program itself.

Where to Attend College

As far as where to go for your vet tech education, there are so many options available to you. You might find a list of top 10 vet tech colleges and decide to choose one of those institutions. Or you might already have your heart set on a veterinary school that you picked when you were 15. If you are looking to be a veterinary technician working with horses, there are many vet tech schools that offer equine vet tech programs. You can find so many areas with good vet tech schools. Many have found that there are a lot of veterinary schools in NY that are good schools to attend. Specifically, in New York, there are many vet tech schools in Rochester NY or around the area that you can look into. There are colleges that you can receive a generic vet tech degree in a clinic. Additionally there are also equine veterinary technician schools that specialize in equine animals.

What does Vet School look like?

While attending a veterinary technician school, you can expect to take a lot of science classes such as chemistry and biology, alongside your general education classes. Some specialized classes that you might need to take include hematology, clinical surgery, pharmacology, etc. In addition to academic classes you are most likely going to experience clinicals during your time in vet tech school.

Average Cost of Vet Tech School

GRAPHIC vet school cost smallAs with any other degree or field, the average cost of attendance varies with the school you go to. A veterinary technician degree usually takes two years to complete and there are some programs that you can go to that might only cost $1000, but again it depends on the school, program, and field you will go into. For specific jobs, you might want to even earn a Bachelor’s degree in science. A Bachelor’s degree might be helpful for those who want to work in a zoo or animal hospital. A veterinary technician associate’s degree can range anywhere from $1,000-$30,000 depending on in-state and out of state tuition. To obtain a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology, you can anticipate a total cost of around $67,000-$90,000 (Education.Costhelper.com).

Steps of a Veterinary Technician

Usually as a veterinary technician, you are looking at 2 years of secondary schooling. The first step to take is to make sure that you are the right type of person. Once you have decided that this is in fact right for you, you want to look for a good school. Once you have found the school that matches you, you want to enroll in their accredited veterinary technician program. Once you are accepted into the program, you will have “clinical” experience, much like an internship. Once you have completed the program and clincial experience, you will sit for the Veterinary Technician exam. Some states have their own exams and some use the National Veterinary Technician exam. After working as a veterinary technician for a couple of years, you can think about going into a specialized field, and advance in many different ways.

Vet Tech Pay and Job Outlook

GRAPHIC VetSalaryWithin the next 10 years it is predicted that job openings for vet techs will increase by 30%. So becoming a veterinary technician could be such a great opportunity for many animal lovers looking for a career path. Vet techs are needed in shelters, animal hospitals, clinics and zoos, so veterinary technicians have many choices as to where they can work. So what is a vet tech salary? When deciding on a career, of course you need to know how much they make. The salary of a veterinarian technician may vary according to the state and the clinic in which you work in. The average national salary is $30,914 (CareerTrove.org) for a vet technician while the average salary for a veterinary technician working in New York is around $37,870. New York is on the list of the top 5 states with the highest vet tech average annual salary.

Types of Veterinary Technician

There are many different types of veterinary technicians. As a vet tech you have to choose whether you want to work with small animals, large animals or zoo animals. Some of the top veterinary technician schools will most likely have programs for every area of veterinary medicine. Another option you have is to earn your degree or certificate online. Specifically for equine science, you can find online equine vet tech schools that you can do to help you start your path to becoming a vet technician. Exotic pets need caregivers too, so if you love the idea of seeing rare animals everyday, that might be an exciting job!

Advance Your Career as a Vet Tech

Once you have been working as a vet tech for awhile, you might decide that you want to take your career even further and advance in the veterinary field. You can do this in many ways. One way is to become a supervisor for those new vet techs in your practice. Or you might even want to go back to school to become a veterinarian. Having a background as a veterinary technician will give you a huge advantage in going back to vet school, since it is highly competitive.

Veterinary Technician vs. Veterinary Assistant

When an animal needs care, there are often two different types of assistants that might help out; a veterinary technician or a veterinary assistant. The main difference between the two is the amount of schooling and education that is required. To be a veterinary assistant, anything higher than a high school diploma or GED is not required. Although this is not necessary, it is highly recommended to participate in programs that teach you the skills you need to have for the job. Unlike a veterinary assistant, a vet tech requires at least an Associate’s degree from an accredited institution.   A veterinary technician is going to be more hands on when working with the animals. They will provide care for wounds, prep the animals for surgery, blood work, and will be a little more involved than a vet assistant. A veterinary assistant will restrain the animal when help is needed, do paperwork, talk to the owners and answer basic questions, clean areas of the clinic, etc.

Pros and Cons of being a Vet Tech

There are many people in the veterinary field that love their jobs, but like any other job there might be some things you might dislike about it. One thing that isn’t so glamourous about the job, is that often times, it is a dirty job. Remember, a veterinary technician works with animals and this often can lead to stinky smells, little messes, and dirty situations. Sometimes vet techs will find themselves in stressful situations, especially because the job is so physically demanding. A highlight to working as a veterinary technician is that there is always the possibility for advancement in the veterinary field. Many vet techs say, that aside from the setbacks, that it is a very rewarding job when you are able to solve problems for pets and their owners.

Typical Qualities of a Vet Tech

Many veterinary technicians aren’t doing their job for the money. Vet technicians usually only make a middle class wage. So why do they do what they do? Some are vet techs simply because they love to be around and help animals. Veterinary Technicians typically have a lot of compassion and love being around animals. Vet techs typically relay information to the veterinarian about the animals they are seeing, and because of this, most vet techs have exceptional communication skills.

Ways to get experience in the field

You might ask yourself, “How do I know for sure that this is a job I will want to pursue?” There are different ways you can explore the veterinary field without making any commitments. Some vet clinics and hospitals might allow volunteers to give there time to help around the clinic. Other times, practices might allow someone to job shadow for a day or two. Job shadowing is the perfect way to get more knowledge about veterinary careers. A job shadow can include everything from watching a veterinarian perform surgery, to sitting in the room with a vet tech and watching them interact with the pet and owner. In some cases you might be able to even get a job at a vet clinic to walk the dogs and feed them, which would give you some great experience.