Many people who love animals naturally choose the career of a veterinary tech.
This field combines precise scientific lab testing with patient caretaking soft skills.
Additionally, it allows professionals to interact with animals while assisting vets daily.
This is a fast-growing career that doesn’t require as many years of education as veterinarians.
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For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field is expected to grow by 19% by 2024, which translates into 17,900 jobs across the country.
This is much faster than the national average growth for all occupations, which stands at 6.5%.
So how does one become a vet tech?
Typically, it requires a minimum of a two-year associate degree in vet technology, animal science, or another related area.
Future vet technicians have to meet the requirements for credentialing, which are different in every state.
After obtaining a certification, license, or registration in their region, some vet technicians can choose a specialty to pursue or work with a specific animal population.
Various academies offer ways to become credentialed as a vet tech specialist (VTS), some of which we will cover below.
Gaining skills in a specialized area can prepare you not only for one of the coolest careers in animal healthcare but can also enhance your employment opportunities and earning potential.
Below, we covered five exceptional jobs for vet techs with information about required credentials and professional organizations.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Veterinary Surgical Technician
- 2 Marine Veterinary Technician
- 3 Animal Nutrition Technician
- 4 Veterinary Zoological Technician
- 5 Animal Behavior Technician
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6.1 Why are vet techs paid so low?
- 6.2 What are marine vets called?
- 6.3 What jobs can marine biologists get?
- 6.4 Why you should not be a vet tech?
- 6.5 Is it hard to be an animal nutritionist?
- 6.6 What colleges offer a major in animal nutrition?
- 6.7 How do you become a zoo vet tech?
- 6.8 Can a vet tech be a zookeeper?
Veterinary Surgical Technician
Vet surgical techs are there the help when animals are in need of invasive procedures or serious treatments and are the most vulnerable requiring considerable recovery periods.
So, few careers related to animal healthcare are as rewarding as vet surgical techs.
Vet surgical technicians are trained and prepared to assist vets during all types of surgical procedures.
They have a direct and meaningful impact on the lives of injured or sick animals.
How to Become a Surgical Vet Tech
The first step to becoming a surgical vet tech is acquiring education as a vet technician, which usually requires a two-year degree.
Also, it is recommended to find exposure to a surgical setting in their workplace.
This can involve asking vets directly for the opportunity to assist with procedures to gain experience in surgery.
Then, vet techs may apply for credentialing through the Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians (AVST) to be recognized as a surgical tech or VTS (Surgery).
For this, applicants need to complete at least 10,000 hours of work as a credentialed vet tech (with 6,000 of them in a surgical setting).
They also need to complete 40 hours of continuing education and have two letters of recommendation, an extensive case log review, and a passing score on an examination.
How Much do Surgical Vets Make?
According to The Balance (data of February 2017), vet surgical technicians made $37,000 in 2012 on average, however, this number increased considerably since then.
Qualified vet surgical techs also have extended employment opportunities.
For instance, on Indeed in June 2017, 1,661 search results nationwide could be found for this position.
Marine Veterinary Technician
For vet technicians who live close to such facilities as SeaWorld or the Monterey Bay Aquarium working with sea creatures can be a great fit.
Probably the most well-known park for marine life, SeaWorld, is a home for a wide variety of animals, which require medical care and routine checkups.
Marine vet technicians are also known as aquatic vet technicians if they work both with saltwater and freshwater species.
They assist the vet by collecting stool and urine samples, giving injections to animals, handling imaging equipment, and helping maintain medical records, including preventative healthcare measures.
They also assist with surgeries and other procedures.
How to Become a Marine Vet Tech
Applicants for this position should hold a degree in animal health or marine biology earned at an accredited institution.
Since injured or ill animals can be difficult to handle, vet techs should have the strength necessary to provide assistance to the vet.
For instance, according to Marine Mammal Center, a Pacific harbor seal can weigh as much as 300 lbs.
How Much do Marine Vet Techs Make?
According to the information provided by SeaWorld, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other facilities, the salary is based on the experience of the candidate.
However, they don’t provide any specific numbers regarding the salary.
Animal Nutrition Technician
Nutrition is a popular area of focus, and it’s no longer refers only to human beings.
There is a huge industry working to ensure that animals receive adequate diet and supplements that help them thrive.
According to the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians, among the three influences affecting an animal’s life (environment, genetics, and nutrition), nutrition is the one that animal healthcare professionals can impact.
How to Become an Animal Nutrition Tech
Professionals in this field are mainly credentialed by the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians.
To qualify as a VTS (Nutrition), applicants should hold a certification as a veterinary technician by completing an associate degree in the field, which takes two years.
Then, they should complete at least 4,000 hours of work experience in the animal nutrition field (at a clinic or research facility) together with 40 hours of continuing education.
Besides, they should provide proof of competencies in the form of letters of recommendation from supervisors or case logs.
How Much Do Animal Nutrition Techs Make?
There are not as many employment opportunities for these technicians as for other specialists.
For instance, according to the Indeed search of July 2017, there were 286 results for animal nutrition techs nationwide.
Although the exact salary is hard to determine, vet nutrition techs can make as much as non-specialized vet techs (if not more).
According to the BLS, vet technicians make $32,490 per year, as of May 2016.
Veterinary Zoological Technician
Many vet techs who like working with animals of all kinds find a career as a vet zoological technician the most rewarding.
These vet techs assist the veterinarians in a zoo setting, working with various animal species.
They are responsible for assisting with surgeries, facilities sterilization, routine checkups, emergency procedures, patient record-keeping, depending on the needs of the facility.
With the job of this nature, vet zoo technicians often handle exotic and dangerous animals and may have hectic schedules, depending on the needs of resident animals.
How to Become a Vet Zoo Tech
Becoming this type of vet tech is relatively straightforward.
Similar to other specialties, they need to be a licensed veterinary technician.
They should also consider applying for membership to the Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians (AZVT).
This is an organization that provides continuing education and support for these techs.
After becoming a member and gaining significant experience in the field, the future VTS (Zoology) can apply for the certification exam from the Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians.
Applicants must have the following to be eligible for the exam:
- A minimum of 10,000 hours of work experience in the field of zoo medicine.
- Completed the advanced skills list for veterinary zoo technicians.
- At least 40 hours of continuing education in zoological medicine or related topics.
- A case log of at least 40 recorded medical or surgical cases.
How Much Do Vet Zoo Techs Make?
Generally, salary for a zoological tech may vary depending on the size and location of the zoo, along with other factors.
With more knowledge and expertise, you can have a higher salary than general technicians.
Besides, the opportunities for these techs are relatively limited.
As per the search of Indeed of May 2017, there were only 71 results found for zoo vet techs nationwide.
Animal Behavior Technician
Vet technicians interested in animal behavior and training can consider the career of a veterinary behavior technician.
They typically deal with training or social problems of animals related to their environments, mental states, and personalities.
These professionals offer established behavioral therapy techniques to develop pro-social and healthy habits in their patients.
These techs are similar to psychologists in that they treat mental ailments of animals.
How to Become an Animal Behavior Tech
To become a vet behavior tech, you need to be credentialed as a vet technician and should consider joining the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians to be exposed to continuing education options and other benefits.
Then, you need to gain some experience and may apply for the certification in this specialization through the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (AVBT).
To qualify for VTS (Behavior) credentials, you need a minimum of 4,000 hours of work experience in the field of animal behavior and 40 hours of continuing education.
Additionally, you need a clinical case log, five case reports, as well as two letters of recommendation.
How Much do Animal Behavior Techs Make?
There are many job opportunities in this subfield.
Through the search on Indeed of June 2017, 510 results for animal behavior techs returned additionally to vet behavior techs and other synonymous job titles.
Like with other specialties, salary typically depends on experience, education, credentials, region, and other factors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are vet techs paid so low?
There may be many reasons vet techs are not paid a lot.
Most states do not have requirements, so many are not certified.
Having uncertified ones with limited experience results in low pay.
That makes it harder to get a job and keeps the wages low.
What are marine vets called?
Marine vets are called aquatic veterinarians, and they specialize in marine animals and invertebrates.
Just as mammals need health care, fish and other water-bound wildlife do as well.
Some aquatic veterinarians even perform surgery on fish.
What jobs can marine biologists get?
A marine biologist is a vocation that requires specialized training, and there are several jobs that you could get.
A marine biotechnologist, research assistant, mammologist, and research scientists are just a few.
With a doctorate, you could become an Ichthyologist.
Why you should not be a vet tech?
If you do not like animals, you should not be a vet tech, and that is the main reason to avoid becoming one.
The job entails working with animals almost all the time.
You could also like animals too much and forget your professional duties.
Is it hard to be an animal nutritionist?
To be an animal nutritionist, you must complete a program that may take three years.
There is a lot of detail you will have to learn about nutrition and the needs of different kinds of animals.
The work is not physically hard.
What colleges offer a major in animal nutrition?
Many schools offer an animal science degree, and you can become an animal nutritionist with that degree.
Some schools may use the terms for both.
Schools with a strong agricultural background have these.
Oklahoma State, most Ivy League schools, Stanford, and many others.
How do you become a zoo vet tech?
You will need a BS degree in animal science, or for being a vet tech, and then pass a national board exam to be licensed.
Taking some classes on differing kinds of animals, and some practical experience with a vet is a good start.
There are not many openings, so you need to develop a relationship with the zoo.
Can a vet tech be a zookeeper?
Technically, it is possible for a vet tech to be a zookeeper, but if all you have is vet tech experience, you will not likely get hired.
You will have to get certified as a vet tech, and then take additional training and get more experience.
There are zoo techs.