Becoming a veterinary technician is a very good career choice due to projections of growth in future job openings. The number of available vet tech job positions is expected to keep increasing, yet many of them remain unfilled. Qualified veterinary technicians are generally not as vulnerable to job loss during an economic recession.
Demand for skilled graduates is high, and vet techs with specialty certifications frequently have their choice of job offers. Learning a specialty such as animal dental care will give a vet tech school graduate a competitive edge and better chances of landing one of the best available jobs.
Vet techs with specialty certifications are often employed in animal hospitals and clinics, and these types of job openings are projected to increase the most.
Other opportunities can also exist in zoos, aquariums, and some research facilities. Many employers look for vet techs who have completed an accredited degree program and passed a basic certification exam in this field. Obtaining specialty training typically entails completion of additional training programs as well as a comprehensive exam.
Veterinary Technician Specialties
- Dentistry. Vet techs specializing in animal dentistry are responsible for performing routine teeth exams and cleaning. They also take x-rays, complete needed lab tests and examine common ailments such as gingivitis and tooth abscesses. Another important part of this veterinary specialty is educating pet owners in maintaining their animals’ dental health.
- Neurology. Training in this specialty area prepares vet techs to assist with procedures and exams surrounding animal brain and nervous system health. A neurology technician normally takes initial vital signs, draws blood samples for lab work and assists with routine radiography scans. Some neurology certification programs also prepare a vet tech to assist with related surgical procedures.
- Anesthesia. Vet techs certified in this area are qualified to administer the correct doses of anesthetic medicine to animal patients as prescribed for different body weights and species. They also monitor sedated patients’ vital signs during exams and procedures. Since anesthesia is used frequently for a number of veterinary procedures, vet techs certified in anesthesia are often in high demand.
- Internal medicine. This specialty area focuses on the diagnoses and treatments of various diseases in different animal species. A vet tech certified in internal medicine is qualified to assist veterinarians with patient exams and with the lab work required to make a definitive diagnosis. Some internal medicine vet techs may also be responsible for routine follow-up care to prevent patient relapses.
- Emergency care. These vet tech specialists are qualified to help in administering critical care to animals who suddenly become ill or injured. They often need to provide quick stabilization procedures such as respiratory assistance for animals who are experiencing breathing problems. Emergency care vet techs may also administer needed injections and take blood or tissue samples for lab tests.
- Oncology. A vet tech certified as an oncology specialist assists in the stages of treatment for animals diagnosed with cancer. They often take on an advanced nursing role in administering prescribed treatments such as chemotherapy. Some may assist with related surgeries as well.
What it Takes to Obtain a Specialty
Obtaining a vet tech specialty is commitment that has several requirements. Candidates need to meet minimum qualifying standards in terms of education and on-the-job experience. Once certified, they need to invest in regular continuing education to keep their skills current regarding the latest technologies in their specialty fields.
- Each candidate for a vet tech specialty needs to have a current license and proof of completion from an accredited vet tech degree program. A two-year degree is often acceptable, although some specialties carry better chances of success for candidates with four-year veterinary technician degrees.
- Vet techs working towards specialty certification also need to have completed a certain number of verifiable work hours. Depending on the specialty of choice, these can range from 4,500 to 6,000 recorded hours. These hours add up to roughly 3-5 years of experience for most specialty areas.
- Specialty applicants need to submit a case log detailing a minimum number of patient cases from their current vet tech job positions. The agencies examining these specialty applications will review these case logs carefully for completeness and the following of correct procedures according to veterinary medicine standards. The number of required cases to be included can range from 50 to 75 for the majority of specialties. Once vet techs have submitted a satisfactory case log and completed the needed practical training, they are eligible to sit for a certification exam in their specialty of choice.
The Value of Specialty Training From a Vet Tech School
Completing specialty training in one area of veterinary medicine comes with several benefits such as qualification for more lucrative job positions. Vet techs with these certifications also enjoy the opportunities to concentrate on the areas of animal medical care that interest them. Due to a shortage of qualified applicants, specialty vet techs often have their choices of several employment offers. Specialty vet tech training provides advanced skills and experience that normally leads to increased job security. It can also lead to more rewarding job roles for a qualified technician.