|Number of Jobs:||41,700|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Healthcare Jobs||#10|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#18|
Veterinary technologists and technicians are sort of like animal nurses: They handle lab work, radiology, nursing care, surgery assistance, and dozens of other tasks. "We do everything except diagnose, prescribe, and do surgery," says Julie Legred, a veterinary technician and board member at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians. They often work in private clinics and animal hospitals, assisting veterinarians with the care of animals. While the job might sound like a lot of fun, Legred is quick to point out that "it's not just holding puppies." She adds: "You're not going to make a lot of money, you have to pick up poo, and you get peed on." In other words, the work isn't glamorous, so only those with a real commitment to animal care tend to stay in the field.
As with veterinarians, the number of jobs for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to surge between 2010 and 2020: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a growth rate of 52 percent. The BLS attributes that growth to the increasing importance of pets to Americans, along with their willingness to pay for more advanced medical treatments.
The BLS reports that veterinary technologists and technicians earned a median salary of $30,140 in 2011. The highest-paid workers earned $44,740, while the lowest-paid workers earned $20,880. Technologists and technicians working in scientific fields and university settings tend to earn the most, and top-paying metropolitan areas include Sacramento, Calif., Madison, Wis., and San Jose, Calif.
Veterinary technologists and technicians earn two- or four-year degrees in veterinary technology. While they share many of the same responsibilities, technologists typically hold four-year bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology, whereas technicians hold two-year associate's degrees. They must also pass an exam and become certified, licensed, or registered, depending on the state. Strong science and math backgrounds are important, says Legred, since much of the job involves drug calculations and lab tests.
Legred urges aspiring veterinary technologists and technicians to find a local vet tech and speak to them about their job. Since there are more than 11 specialties in the field, including clinical pathology and emergency care, jobs can vary widely. Legred says gaining strong math and science backgrounds early in one's education is key, along with cultivating passion for the job.
|Upward Mobility||Below Average|