The median veterinary technician salary (also referred to as vet tech salary) in the United States is reported to be about $28,000 per year which is about $13 per hour. The top 10th percentile in this profession reported annual salaries of about $38,000 or more which is about $19 or more per hour. The bottom 10th percentile reported a salary of about $ 18,000 or less per year or about $8 or less per hour. The middle 50 percent of veterinary technician (vet tech) reported salaries of between $22,000 and $34,000 per annum or between $11 and $16 per hour.
Some employers offer benefits and bonuses to their employees. benefits such as social security, healthcare benefits, paid time off, 401K and pension could bring the average compensation package (including base salary) of a veterinary tech (vet tech) to about $43,000 per year.
Job description of a veterinary technician
So what does a veterinary technician (vet tech) do? They carry out medical tests, under a licensed veterinarian’s supervision, to aid in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases and injuries in animals.
Veterinary techs are essentially what a nurse is to a physician. What they end up doing vastly depends on the responsibilities their employer gives them. However there are some common duties that most vet techs perform. They may carry out laboratory tests such as urine analysis (urinalysis) and blood analysis. They often assist veterinarians with dental prophylaxis. They are often responsible for the preparation of tissue culture, taking of blood samples and operation of diagnosis equipment.
Veterinary technicians or vet techs are also responsible for cleaning and sterilization of tools such as test tubes, maintenance and operating of equipment. Although they largely work in laboratory settings, they may also be required by their employer to perform non-laboratory duties. These include doing paper work such as obtaining and recording of patient’s information, exposing and developing x-rays and sometimes giving nursing care.
Most veterinary technicians work in animal hospitals or private veterinary clinics. A few find themselves working for research facilities, performing such tasks as administering medication, preparing samples for laboratory and recording information about animals.
How to become a veterinary technician (Vet tech)
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The best way to become a veterinary technician is to complete a 2 year associate’s degree program in veterinary technology from an accredited community college. These programs provide practical training where live animals are used in a laboratory or clinical setting. There are a handful of colleges that provide a longer 4 year degree program in veterinary technology.
Enrolling in an accredited program ensures that you will be able to take the necessary credential examination. Accreditation is from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). It varies from state to state but most states require a vet tech to be licensed, certified or registered to be able to practice. The most common certification exam required by most states is the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
There are specific certification for vet techs wanting to work in research facilities. Visit the American Association for Laboratory animal science for more information about this.
High school students wanting to become veterinary technicians should take classes in biology, chemistry and other science related programs.
Veterinary technician salary (vet tech salary) in other countries (UK, Canada, Australia).
In Australia, they are referred to as veterinary nurses and their job description is the same. Vet nurses salary (veterinary tech salary) in Australia is reported to between AU$29,000 and AU$51,000 with the median salary at AU$39,000 per year.
In Canada, the average salary of a veterinary technician is about CA$17 per hour. The vet tech salary in Canada ranges from CA$15 to CA$20 per hour.
In the United Kingdom (UK), they are known as veterinary nurse (vet nurse). Their salary ranges from £14,000 to £25,000 per year. Salary varies depending on years of experience.
A veterinary technician salary (veterinary tech salary) is not a very high paying job and you certainly won’t get rich doing it. Most people eventually acquire further training and move on from the profession. It is still a good starting career to help you move on to higher things.