Veterinary Technicians and Employment in Hawaii
The field of veterinary medicine has dramatically expanded, opening a vast number of new opportunities for veterinary professionals of every type. The growing importance of providing high quality veterinary care, ranging from traditional procedures to veterinary specialties including oncology, dental care, nutrition and clinical pathology, has made the field of veterinary medicine a dynamic and growing career for those interested in a long-term and financially rewarding profession. Among the most important veterinary care providers are veterinary technicians.
What is a Veterinary Technician?
A veterinary technician is a professional who assists veterinarians in providing various types of care to pets and livestock alike. Vet techs have many of the same responsibilities a registered nurse does in a hospital or doctor’s office. Among their most common duties are the following:
- The vet tech will assist the veterinarian in positioning and treating animals. This includes restraining hostile or frightened animals in order to protect the veterinary staff without further harming the animal.
- Administering drugs prescribed by the veterinarian to the animal and monitoring their effects to ensure that there are no adverse reactions.
- In some cases, vet techs will assist the veterinarian before, during and after surgical procedures. Additionally, they will continue to monitor the animal after the operation and report any changes to the vet.
- Vet techs usually conduct the initial examination of the animal, recording information such as weight, breed and any symptoms that they note in order to provide the vet with the information needed to treat the animal.
- Vet techs often work with animal owners, interviewing them and recording the information they provide. In cases where the animal is injured or ill, the vet tech will have to behave in a professional and caring manner in order to calm the distraught owners.
Specialist Vet Techs
Finally, there are a number of fields that vet techs can specialize in. Fields recognized by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) include emergency and critical care, nutrition, behavioral studies, and equine nursing. These specialties require extra training and certification on the part of the veterinary technician, but they also open very promising career and salary options.
Becoming a Veterinary Technician in Hawaii
Hawaii currently does not have a requirement that veterinary techs obtain any state certification or licensing. However, certified technicians have far better career options and salary earning potential.
Many veterinary practices will only hire vet techs that have completed an accepted program of study and testing that verifies their professional and academic skills. Furthermore, for vet techs who may at some point leave Hawaii, being certified makes it far more likely that the destination state will accept their qualifications to practice as a licensed veterinary technician.
Vet Tech Programs
The first part of becoming vet tech is to attend an accredited veterinary technician program. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) evaluates vet tech programs in the United States and only accredits those programs that maintain strict educational and professional standards.
In most cases, a vet tech program takes a full-time student approximately two years to complete. These programs include classroom work as well as lab experience in the various duties of a vet tech. Many programs offer part time or online options which can allow students who are currently working to complete the vet tech program on their own schedule.
Vet Tech Internships
Some programs also include vet tech internships. Internships allow currently studying or newly graduated vet techs to work in a professional setting while being mentored by the faculty and their supervisors. Internships can be an excellent method of obtaining real world experience, as well as making professional connections that will be valuable in securing a vet tech job.
The Veterinary Technician National Exam
The Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is an exam that is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The VTNE provides a complete evaluation of the student’s academic and practical skills in the field of veterinary medicine. Most states that license veterinary technicians require a passing score on the VTNE. As with attending an accredited program, taking and passing the VTNE will improve the career options for vet techs working in Hawaii.
Passing the VTNE requires a score of 425 on the test. In addition, the VTNE can only be retaken a limited number of times and students attempting to take the test more than five times must seek approval from the AAVSB. For this reason, students should be prepared to take and pass the VTNE the first time.
Vet Tech Careers in Hawaii
As an island state, Hawaii has a large number of exotic pets in addition to more common animals. Furthermore, many residents of Hawaii demand a high level of care for their beloved animal companions, making veterinary medicine a growing and important part of the Hawaiian economy.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently projects above average growth for vet techs through 2020. Furthermore, veterinary techs earn an annual median wage of nearly $30,000, with specialists earning somewhat more. This is comparable to other professions requiring a similar degree of education.
Becoming a veterinary technician opens a number of career options for the professional. In fact, veterinary technology is an ideal profession for newly graduated individuals and those who are seeking to transition to a new career alike. By becoming a vet tech in Hawaii, these professionals will fill a vital and well-respected component of the state’s veterinary care sector.
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