The Canadian Vet Tech and Earning Potentials
Becoming a Canadian veterinary technician can be an excellent choice for those individuals who are currently interested in an animal-centered career.
Due to the growing need for highly qualified professionals, both for private and public organizations, the veterinary care field is showing robust and sustained growth in Canada. For those seeking a long-term career with excellent compensation levels, becoming a Canadian vet tech can be a very wise decision.
Vet Techs in Canada
Veterinary technicians in Canada are regulated by their local provincial governments and veterinary technician associations. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) provides accreditation services for veterinary technology programs and also assists provincial and federal authorities in developing an effective regulatory system for veterinary technicians.
In addition, there are a number of professional associations that provide advocacy services for veterinary technicians. The Canadian Association of Animal Health Technologists and Technicians (CAAHTT) is the most important of these groups although there are also a number of local and provincial veterinary technician associations. In many cases, these local associations will focus on local community issues rather than national issues.
Vet Tech Duties
In general, a Canadian veterinary technician is a licensed veterinary care worker who assists a veterinarian or other professional in providing high quality care to those animals he or she is working with.
In today’s veterinary care sector, veterinary technicians commonly work in the following areas:
- Veterinary care clinics. Small clinics may only employ a single veterinary technician, who works directly with the veterinarian. Larger clinics may employ a number of vet techs, many of whom provide specialized services.
- Research laboratories. An increasing number of Canadian vet techs are employed in research labs, where they provide high-quality care to the research animals while also ensuring that experimental procedures are carried out in a human and effective manner.
- Public agencies such as animal control and wildlife management programs. In many cases, these vet techs may work directly alongside wildlife management professionals while ensuring that wild and stray animals are humanely controlled. This can be especially important in those areas where wildlife is coming into conflict with urban or rural settlements.
- Some vet techs work with private or public agencies providing spay and neuter services to their clients. In addition, these agencies may also take part in educational programs to ensure that the public understands how to provide effective care to their animal companions.
When carrying out these duties, vet techs must be able to carry out the following veterinary duties:
- Vet techs working in clinics will usually be the first veterinary professional the client sees. They will admit those animals brought in for treatment and obtain needed information from the animal’s owners.
- Most clinics will have the vet tech conduct the initial examination of a newly admitted animal. This examination will help to establish a baseline level of information for later use by the veterinarian.
- When drugs are prescribed by the veterinarian, the vet tech will usually administer them to the animal while it is being cared for. When the animal is sent home with its owners, the vet tech will also help instruct the owners in how to safely administer the drugs.
- Veterinary technicians play a vital role in assisting the veterinarian before, during and after surgical procedures. In addition to preparing the equipment for use, the vet tech will help position and prepare the animal for the surgical procedure.
- Vet techs must be able to work with frightened, injured or otherwise agitated animals. In many cases, they must be able to immobilize the animal so it can be safely treated, without exacerbating the animal’s injuries.
In addition, some vet techs obtain certification in specialized fields in order to provide a higher degree of care for those animals under their care.
These certifications are provided by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) and cover a wide range of veterinary care specialties. In most cases, a certified specialty vet tech can command a higher wage than a veterinary technician who is not certified in a specialty field.
Becoming a Vet Tech in Canada
In order to become a vet tech in Canada, the candidate must comply with his or her provincial regulations regarding the licensure of veterinary technicians. While these requirements may vary in some respects, they all require that the candidate successfully complete the following steps:
- Complete an accredited veterinary technology program.
- Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
- Comply with any local provincial licensure requirements.
Veterinary Technology Programs
Individuals seeking to become a vet tech in Canada must complete a CVMA accredited program. In most cases, these programs are offered by community colleges or vocational training centers.
The vet tech program will provide a variety of academic and practical instruction in the field of veterinary technology.
In addition, many schools currently offer part-time and distance learning options to accommodate those students who cannot attend a traditional full-time program. This can be especially beneficial for those students who are currently employed or who have family care obligations.
American vet tech programs that have been accredited by the AVMA conform to Canadian accreditation requirements. However, a student who has attended a foreign school that is not accredited by the CVMA must be able to demonstrate that their program is substantially equal to a CVMA accredited program.
For this reason, foreign students seeking licensure in Canada should immediately contact the provincial licensing agency in order to determine what steps they must take in order to have their program recognized.
Taking the VTNE
Upon graduating from a veterinary technician program, the student must successfully pass the VTNE. This is a comprehensive examination that tests the student’s practical and academic qualifications.
Although a student may retake the examination if he or she fails it, depending on the state or province where he or she is seeking licensure there may be limitations on how many times the student may retake the VTNE. For this reason, the student should only take the VTNE when he or she is confident of passing the examination.
Depending on the province, there may be a variety of other requirements for those individuals seeking licensure as a vet tech. These may include the following:
- Submitting to a criminal background check.
- Providing proof that the candidate understands his or her responsibilities under provincial law.
- Letters of recommendation or reference.
- Information about any previous work as a licensed veterinary technician in another province or state.
As these requirements can differ from province to province the applicant should be certain to check with the relevant authorities before submitting his or her application in order to ensure that all the required information will be included in the application packet.
How Much do Veterinary Technicians Earn?
The average income level for Canadian vet techs in 2013 was nearly CDN$27,000. However, this salary varies depending on the vet tech’s level of experience, specializations and the region he or she was working in.
In most cases, vet techs who have been certified in a specialty field or who have several years worth of experience can command a higher wage than those vet techs who are just entering the field.
For this reason, the top 4.9 percent of vet techs earned over CDN$50,000. In addition, most Canadian vet techs also enjoy excellent benefits, such as health care, vacation benefits and job security. For this reason, Canadian veterinary technicians enjoy a level of compensation that is very competitive with other fields that require a similar investment of time and effort.
Salaries and Cost of Living
In addition, the level of salary may be impacted by the regional cost of living. Vet techs working in urban centers such as Ottawa often face higher costs than those working rural regions. For this reason, even though the income of an Ottawa vet tech may be higher than one working in a rural part of Ontario, both vet techs may be able to enjoy a similar lifestyle. For this reason, anyone seeking to become a vet tech should also consider where he or she expects to work when evaluating his or her desired salary level.
Becoming a Canadian vet tech is an excellent choice for an individual who desires a stable career with excellent salary and professional advancement options.
Furthermore, vet techs are a vital part of ensuring that Canada’s beloved companion animals receive the humane and effective treatment they deserve. For this reason, an individual seeking to become a vet tech can expect to enjoy an emotionally and professionally satisfying career.