Professional Development for Vet Techs
Becoming a veterinary technician is an excellent path to a career that has excellent earning and advancement potential. Due to the rising importance of veterinary care in America, many organizations are currently experiencing a growing demand for qualified vet techs.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that the number of vet tech job openings is increasing at a rate of about 52 percent between 2010 and 2020. When combined with the fact that there are currently over 80,000 veterinary technicians employed in the United States, all indications are that the field will continue to provide excellent employment opportunities for new technicians.
Advancement Strategies for Vet Techs
However, in addition to the benefits from becoming a vet tech, there are a wide range of advancement options for those vet techs who take the proper approach to developing their personal and professional qualifications in this field. These approaches include the following:
- Becoming a certified vet tech.
- Making use of internships.
- Seeking out states with a high number of veterinary technician vacancies.
- Focusing on high demand specialties.
- Becoming a certified specialist vet tech.
Becoming a certified vet tech
While a number of states require all vet techs to be certified or licensed, it is important to become a certified vet tech even if the individual’s state does not require certification in order to practice. In general, professional vet tech associations will provide certification in those states where licensure is not required to practice as a vet tech.
Becoming certified allows potential employers to verify that the vet tech has graduated from an accredited program of veterinary technology, in addition to successfully passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
These achievements verify the fact that the certified vet tech is capable of carrying out all of the duties his or her profession requires, without requiring any onsite training. In fact, many employers generally will not hire non-certified vet techs.
Finally, for vet techs who intend to move at some point in their career, certification can make it much easier to obtain a license in their destination state. Licensure by endorsement is usually available only to those individuals who hold either a state certification or a certification conferred by a recognized private organization. This makes obtaining certification a vital step in the professional career of any vet tech, especially those who may at some point decide to work as a veterinary technician in another state.
Making Use of Internships
An excellent method to ensure fast advancement as a veterinary technician is to obtain as much hands on experience as possible.
In many cases, working as an intern before or immediately after the vet tech graduates from his or her program can provide invaluable experience in the veterinary field.
In general, vet techs that have completed internships are attractive to potential employers because they have demonstrated an ability to work in a functioning veterinary setting, as opposed to having no real world veterinary experience.
In addition, many employers will offer internships with the intention of permanently hiring those individuals who prove to be effective and productive employees. In this way, a newly graduated vet tech that has completed an internship will often be immediately hired. This also allows the vet tech to gain an in depth understanding of company culture of the business he or she is interning at.
Finally, even if an internship does not result in the vet tech being hired, it will allow the vet tech to make professional and personal connections in the field of veterinary medicine, which can dramatically improve the vet techs’ ability to locate future employment opportunities.
Seeking out High Demand States
While vet techs are in demand across the United States, is it possible to find regions where there is a higher demand for vet techs. This makes it more likely that the vet tech will quickly find a job, as well as allowing vet techs to demand a higher salary.
In many cases, states with expanding biotech or research sectors will have an increased need of vet techs, as will states that are seeing an expansion of their population and the consequent increase in the need for pet care services. When looking for a region with a high demand for veterinary technicians, it is important to check with veterinary professionals in the area, in order to ensure that the demand is actually a long-term trend.
Focusing on High Demand Specialties
Many vet techs seek out opportunities to work in fields that currently are seeing a rise in employment. Examples include equine and large animal medicine, clinical medicine and in some states, wildlife management. By obtaining education in these specialties, the vet tech can position him or herself to obtain a job that other, less prepared individuals might miss. Furthermore, this preparation can position the vet tech to become a certified specialist, further improving his or her professional qualifications.
Becoming a Certified Specialist Vet Tech
Currently, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes a number of vet tech specialties. Unlike a vet tech that informally focuses on one area of veterinary medicine, a certified specialist has undergone an organized system of study, which may include formal course work, in order to prepare him or herself for certification. In addition, a specialty certification requires a large amount of experience in the field, as well as the completion of a professional exam to test the vet tech’s competency in the specialty.
Obtaining a specialty certification makes the vet tech eligible for a wide variety of jobs that touch on his or her specialty. In addition to the employment benefits, most vet tech specialists can also command higher wages from an employer due to their extra qualifications. Finally, some organizations, such as zoos or wildlife management programs, may have certain career openings that are only available to someone who has obtained a certificate in the relevant specialty.
There are a number of ways to obtain better employment and career options as a veterinary technician. However, they are all feasible for individuals who are interested in focusing on a career as a vet tech. Due to the growing size of the vet tech sector, this field will continue to have a great need for motivated vet techs who will continue to work to develop their professional and personal gifts in order to more effectively serve their employers, clients and the animals under their care.