Biomedical Research and Vet Techs
Although many veterinary technicians work with veterinarians in providing high quality care to pets and other animals, that is not the only career that is open to a veterinary technician.
In fact, many vet techs can find a personally rewarding and secure career in the field of biomedical research.
What is Biomedical Research
Biomedical research involves a vast number of subfields, ranging from studies involving the effects of pollution on living organisms to projects designed to help develop cures for diseases such as cancer or HIV. In order to obtain the best possible results, biomedical research is often conducted on animals that have a close similarity to the aspects of the human biology that are under investigation.
Modern biomedical researchers understand that it is vitally important that any animals be treated in a humane manner. Doing so is not only beneficial to the animal, but can improve the accuracy of any testing that is performed. Due to this, it is important that the animals under examination be cared for by highly skilled professionals in the field of veterinary technology.
Vet Techs and the Biomedical Research Field
Vet techs are an important part of the biomedical research field. As veterinary professionals, vet techs will work closely with veterinarians, researchers and other individuals in ensuring that any animals present are tested and housed in a humane manner.
Vet techs work with researchers in maintaining and operating testing and recording equipment and ensuring that any test results are recorded in an accurate manner. In addition, they work to ensure that other aspects of any research project involving animals are properly planned and carried out in order to ensure the best possible results.
Finally, in many cases vet techs may be heavily involved in the process of developing and publishing research papers and academic materials. This can result in the vet tech having an impact on thousands of students and fellow professionals. In some cases, the vet tech may in fact be involved in research projects that can result in treatments that will benefit millions of people.
Becoming a Vet Tech Specializing in Biomedical Research
Most organizations require that any vet tech working in this field be certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The AALAS ensures that any vet tech entering this field has obtained the specialized knowledge that is required to function as an effective working in the field of biomedical research.
The AALAS currently offers several different levels of certification, each of which has differing educational and exam based requirements.
- Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT).
- Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT)
- Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG)
The requirements for obtaining any of these certifications are a combination of education and work experience. For example, a student seeking to become an ALAT who has an associate’s degree would only need six months of job experience to qualify for the exam. Conversely, a candidate with a GED would require at least a year of work experience to qualify.
All three exams focus on the biomedical vet tech’s duties regarding the treatment and care of lab animals, research procedures, and the laws and regulations that must be followed in this field. By passing the test, the candidate has demonstrated a mastery of the needed skills for his or her specialty. These tests may be taken in person or online and the AALAS provides study materials to prepare the candidates for the tests.
The Technician Certification Registry
In addition to the three basic levels of competency, the AALAS maintains a certification registry for highly qualified technicians. This registry is designed to list those technicians that have obtained a very high level of skill in their field and continue to maintain their qualifications.
Although individuals who pass their exams are automatically added to the registry, they must complete continuing education units (CEUs) in order to remain a part of the registry. Membership in the certification registry lasts for two years, and in order to remain registered, the individual must complete a varying number of CEUs. Holders of an ALAT certification must submit 10 CEU hours, while the LAT and LATG certification must submit 14 and 24 hours respectively.
The Benefits of Becoming a Biomedical Research Vet Tech
Biomedical research vet techs are part of a vibrant sector in the American economy. With the growing importance of healthcare research, the demand for qualified professionals will continue to grow. Today, the average salary for a laboratory animal technician is over $40,000, with higher levels of experience and training allowing for increased salary and career options.
Vet techs working in biomedical research are part of a dynamic and growing field of science. In addition to the personal benefits a professional in this field can obtain, they have the satisfaction of knowing that their work is benefiting not simply themselves, but society as a whole.