If you are passionate about working with animals, being a veterinary technician may be a rewarding career for you. Vet techs work alongside trained veterinarians to care for animals. Learning how much vet techs make and the ways you might increase your salary may help you decide if this is the career path for you. In this article, we discuss what vet techs do, how much they make, ways to increase your salary as a vet tech and the benefits of working as a vet tech.
What is a veterinary technician?
Veterinary technicians provide support and animal assistance to a veterinarian. Vet techs typically work in clinics, private vet offices, animal hospitals, nonprofit animal shelters or laboratories. They are present during checkups to assist with restraining animals, and they perform any tasks the veterinarian requests.
Here are some common duties of a vet tech:
- Provide medications and vaccinations under the supervision of a veterinarian
- Perform preparations for surgery, like shaving an animal's surgical spot
- Assist with surgery
- Consult with animal owners to get an accurate medical history
- Document and file medical records
- Schedule appointments
- Monitor an animal's condition
- Perform blood tests
- Obtain collection samples
How much do vet techs make?
The salary for a vet tech depends on their education level and amount of experience, and the average national salary is $29,673 per year. A vet tech's salary can also depend on the organization where they work, with private clinics or organizations typically paying more than nonprofit organizations.
How can you increase salary as a vet tech?
Here are a few ways you can increase your salary as a vet tech:
Pursue higher education
Pursuing higher education may help you earn a higher wage as a vet tech because you can strengthen your skills and knowledge. Although many veterinarians require their vet techs to have a high school diploma or GED, you may want to consider pursuing at least a two-year degree if you're seeking a raise.
In the United States, the American Veterinary Medicine Association's Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities accredits a vet tech's degree program. You can find accredited courses at technical schools and community colleges. Although it varies by employer, some veterinarians may offer tuition reimbursement for their employees who pursue higher education in the veterinary field.
Certifications may increase your earning potential because they provide you with advanced skills. Veterinarian certifications can vary by state, though employers typically accept the Veterinary Technician National Exam, which the American Association of Veterinary State Boards offers. This exam covers information on animal pharmacology, surgery and anesthesia. After you pass this certification, you have the option to receive further certification within a specialty field like internal medicine and dentistry, which the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America offers.
Veterinarians typically prefer technicians to have prior animal care experience so they feel comfortable around animals and are familiar with animal behaviors. To gain experience, consider volunteering as a vet tech at a local animal shelter or nonprofit organization. Volunteering can allow you to improve your skills and familiarize yourself with various kinds of animals and medical cases.
Ask for a raise
When seeking a higher wage, it's useful to ask your employer for a raise. Before you ask, identify the reasons you deserve a raise, like positive customer reviews and excellent work performance. You might also review vet tech wage data for your specific geographic area. If your employer doesn't approve your request for a raise, you can ask them to provide feedback on the areas where you can improve before receiving one.
Work in a research lab
If you are trying to increase your salary as a vet tech, consider working in a research lab. Lab technicians typically earn a higher wage than standard vet techs. Research labs hire experienced vet techs because they have a knowledge of animal anatomy and behaviors. Vet techs can work in a lab performing research on animals, or they can take care of the animals in the lab to ensure they're treated well.
Research labs usually employ vet techs who have certifications in the veterinary field or have a higher education degree, like an associate or bachelor's.
What are the benefits of working as a vet tech?
Here are some benefits you can experience as a vet tech:
When working as a vet tech, you have many opportunities to grow your skills because you work with an experienced veterinarian. You can observe the veterinarian to see how they interact with animals, perform surgery, diagnose issues and provide preventative care. Veterinarians may also offer you advice for career advancement and how to go into a specialty veterinarian field, like equine nursing. Consider consulting with the veterinarian you work with to better understand which skills you can develop.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job availability for vet techs to increase 16% by 2029, which is higher than the average rate of growth for all jobs in that same time period. The BLS attributes this growth to veterinarians continuing to rely on vet techs to perform clinical and lab work.
Pet care discounts
Many veterinarians offer discounts to their employees on animal checkups and surgery. As a vet tech, you may feel more supported by the veterinarian in your office knowing your pet can receive quality care from someone you're comfortable working with and products for your pets at a reduced cost.
People with a connection to animals may find there are several benefits to working as a vet tech. They spend most of their shifts working with animals, and their interactions with animals can vary from a preventative care checkup to post-surgery wellness care.
Exciting work environment
As a vet tech, each day of work is often different from the day before, creating variety. A vet tech may have shifts during the evening, weekends or holidays, depending on the needs of their clinic. Vet techs also encounter a variety of situations, including general animal checkups and animal injuries, like fractures or sprains. People who enjoy fast-paced settings where the roles can change daily may be comfortable with the work environment of a vet tech.
As a vet tech, you may feel fulfilled knowing you're making a difference by helping animals. You can experience the gratitude pet owners feel when you handle their animals delicately and respectfully. By keeping pets healthy and safe, you can give them the chance to live long and happy lives. Vet techs also educate pet owners about important safety information so they can better understand any dangers to their animals, like potentially dangerous foods.
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