What the Demand for Vet Techs Can Mean for Your Career
Jun 08, 2023
7 min read
Veterinary technicians play an important role in the well-being of our furry companions, assisting veterinarians in making sure pets are healthy and helping them feel better when there’s something wrong. It’s a tough job that comes with a lot of reward and it makes a big difference to the life of an animal and the happiness of their owner.
But, right now, there’s a growing shortage of vet techs in the United States, meaning that there aren’t enough skilled professionals in this field to really meet the current demand for pet care. This means that, if you’re looking to start a new career that’s in-demand, becoming a veterinary technician could be a great fit and offer you plenty of opportunities to find a job pretty quickly.
Here’s what you need to know about how the demand for vet techs could impact your career and what you need to do to become one.
The growing demand for skilled vet techs
Right now, it’s estimated that there are about 118,000 veterinary technicians working in the United States as of 2019. That sounds like a lot but considering the growing number of pet owners and more people understanding the importance of regular animal healthcare, the need for qualified, credentialed veterinary technicians is skyrocketing. In fact, experts think that the United States will need at least 132,885 new vet techs by 2030 to meet the demand and keep practices and clinics running efficiently.
While this gap between the number of vet techs we really need and the number of actual vet techs working isn’t great for animal clinics right now –staffing shortages like this can lead to higher wait times to see patients, overworked staff, and job stress – it could be a good thing for people looking to start a new career in the field. The demand for credentialed veterinary technicians could allow those new to the field more opportunities to find the job they really want, but also could potentially give them more power to negotiate for higher pay and better benefits.
Read more: What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?
5 steps to become a veterinary technician
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 20% increase in demand for vet techs over the next ten years, it’s a great time to take the first steps toward becoming one today. Here are the common steps you should take to become a credentialed vet tech.
Step 1: Earn your vet tech degree
The role of a vet tech combines science and compassion, so it involves many skills that you can’t just learn through on-the-job training. While there are some states and veterinary clinics that may not require vet techs to have a degree, there are many others that do. Earning your veterinary technician associate degree is often the best way to learn everything you need to know to be successful in the role, from animal anatomy and physiology to hands-on skills like drawing blood for lab tests.
Besides learning the skills you’ll need on the job, if you want to become a credentialed veterinary technician – which is a requirement to work in many states - you’ll need to graduate from an AVMA-accredited veterinary technician school.
Step 2: Pass the VTNE
Another reason earning an AVMA-accredited vet tech degree is important? It’s a requirement to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE is required in order to apply to get credentialed. After you complete your degree, you’ll register and sit for the exam. If you don’t pass the first time, that’s okay! It’s a tough test and many vet techs need to take it at least twice to pass.
Step 3: Apply to your state board
After you pass the VTNE, you’ll need to submit an application to the appropriate state body to become credentialed. Usually, this is the state’s board of veterinary medicine. Each state may have different requirements you need to meet to be eligible to become credentialed outside of earning your degree and passing the VTNE, such as passing a criminal background check or taking a state-specific exam.
Once you’ve met all the requirements and your state board approves your application, you can be considered a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT), Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), or Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). Different states use different terminology, so in one you may be considered an RVT, while another will consider you an LVT.
Step 4: Find a vet tech job
Since there’s so much demand for credentialed veterinary technicians and many vet clinics are facing staff shortages, there may be a fair amount of job openings you can apply to! It’s important to remember, though, that finding the right job openings near you could really depend on your area. If you live in a more rural area with fewer vet clinics, there may be less job opportunities so you might have to look a little further out.
When you’re applying for vet tech jobs, make sure your resume is up to date and highlights your education and credentials! It’s also not a bad idea to reach out to your network, people you’ve worked with or gone to school with, to see if their clinics have any openings.
Step 5: Continue your education
Just like human medicine, vet medicine is constantly changing and being improved. To stay current with the different skills and techniques that come up, it’s important to always keep learning, even after you find a job you like. Besides continuing your education for your own personal growth, if you’re a credentialed veterinary technician, earning Continuing Education (CE) credits is a requirement to renew and maintain your credentials. And adding other certifications and experience to your resume can only help you advance your career and qualify for pay raises!
For example, while it’s not required, getting Fear Free Certified can help you stand out and make for a better experience for pets and their owners. Or, since more and more veterinary practices are turning to telehealth to manage the increasing number of patient appointments, having vet telehealth training could help you take on more responsibilities at work.
Read more: 5 Ways to Make More Money as a Vet Tech
How to know if becoming a vet tech is right for you
Being a veterinary technician is a very rewarding job, but it can also be a tough one. It’s a job in which you’ll often find yourself working long hours, spending most of your time on your feet, and dealing with stressful and sad situations. But if it’s the right job for you, the rewards will outweigh the demands.
If you’re not sure if becoming a vet tech is the right path for you, consider these things before taking the next step.
1. Do you want a job that allows you to make a difference?
Not every job out there really makes a difference in someone’s life and that’s okay. But, as a vet tech, you can expect that what you do will make a difference to your patients and their humans. Whether you're comforting a nervous pet during a check-up or assisting in a life-saving surgery, you'll witness firsthand the positive impact you can have on these precious creatures. The gratitude and love you receive from the animals and their owners are priceless rewards that will keep you motivated and passionate about your work!
2. Do you enjoy science and medicine?
Veterinary technicians need to enjoy science and the medical field in general to really love their jobs. If you’re someone who is fascinated by things like biology, different medical techniques, or lab work, becoming a vet tech could be a great fit.
3. Are you okay with the messier aspects of the job?
Since you’re working with animals, you can expect to get messy on a regular basis. From accidents to dealing with blood, being a vet tech isn’t a job where you’ll be hands off. Besides the physically messy aspects of the job, there are also emotionally tough situations you’ll encounter, like having to put a pet to sleep for their well-being.
4. Do you like to keep moving?
A vet tech job isn’t a desk job. For the most part, you’ll be on the move for most of your shift, from handling and restraining animals to assisting the veterinarian with surgery or taking a blood draw to process for diagnostic testing. If you want a career that can be fast-paced and brings something new every day, being a vet tech could be the right path for you!
Become a vet tech online with Penn Foster
With the growing demand for credentialed veterinary technicians, now is a great time to take the next steps toward becoming one! If you’re not sure where to start or want to learn more about how an online vet tech degree works, reach out to our Admissions Specialists today at 1-888-427-6500!
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