Number of Jobs
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Health Care Jobs||#18|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#28|
Veterinary technologists and technicians handle lab work, radiology, nursing care, surgery assistance and dozens of other tasks related to animal health care. “We do everything except diagnose, prescribe and do surgery,” says Julie Legred, a veterinary technician and interim executive director at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. 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.
The number of jobs for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to surge between 2012 and 2022: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 29.5 percent. The BLS attributes this 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 $30,290 in 2012. The highest-paid workers earned $44,030, while the lowest-paid workers earned $21,030. Technologists and technicians working in the federal executive branch, state government and employment services tend to earn the most. Top-paid areas for vet techs include New London, Conn., Greenville, S.C., and Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
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 essential, Legred says, 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 him or her about the 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||poor Below Average|
|Stress Level||fair Average|
|Flexibility||poor Below Average|
Last updated by Kimberly Palmer.