Vet Tech Employment

The prospects for Veterinary Technician (Vet Tech) employment in the next few years are encouraging.  There is evidence of increasing demand for veterinary care as pet owners become prepared to spend more on the welfare of their pets.  Even in recent recessionary times there is little sign of demand for vet services diminishing.

Employment prospects

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 79,000 vet techs in the US.  It also estimates that because of rising demand from pet owners, there will be between 2008 and 2016 a 36% growth in vet tech job opportunities which is considerably higher than the anticipated national average across all professions.

The Bureau also estimates that in spite of a growing number of accredited vet tech schools, there will only be around 3,800 newly qualified vet techs each year for the next few years which will not be enough to meet demand.  Furthermore because many vet techs do not stay in the profession for more than 10 years, these departures will create yet more vacancies.

It remains to be seen whether these potential shortages of vet techs in the coming years lead to a greater rise in salaries but the prospects are promising.

Vet techs and their work

The vast majority of vet techs and vet technologists work in private practice for veterinarians (vets). Vets are solely responsible for providing diagnoses, prognoses, performing surgery and prescribing medications.  It is the vet tech’s responsibility to provide effective nursing services to the animals in the vet’s care as well as carry out lab technician, radiography technician, surgical nurse and client educator roles.

In practice many vet techs do carry out various medical tests on animals and diagnose and treat medical conditions and diseases in animals, such as by performing laboratory tests on urine or blood samples or by assisting with dental care.  Experienced vet techs may discuss the health of pets with their owners and run training for new members of the clinical team.  Vet techs however remain under the supervision of the vet.

Vet techs working for small-animal vets usually care for small pets, such as cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and mice.  Very few vet techs also work with large animals such as cows or horses.

While most vet techs work in private practice there are also opportunities to work in other fields such as:

  • emergency practice
  • zoos
  • hospital management teams
  • sales of veterinary supplies
  • biomedical facilities
  • military service
  • veterinary colleges
  • private industry
  • drug and feed manufacturing companies
  • food safety inspection
  • animal welfare societies

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that vet techs working outside of private practice have higher salaries than the majority who work within private practice.

The working environment

Many people become vet techs because of their love of animals and because they want to help animals.  However some also find that the work can be unpleasant – cleaning up the mess left by animals, difficult when dealing with demanding pet owners, physically and emotionally challenging and sometimes dangerous with the ever present risk of being bitten.  Seeing abused animals or having to euthanize animals may be emotionally distressing.

It is clear that vet tech employment can be very satisfying for many people.  The numbers are growing every year and there is an even greater growth in the demand for vet techs.   The prospects are good.  Vet tech employment can only grow in significance.

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