Pros and Cons of Being a Veterinary Technician

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There are many reasons that the veterinary technician career path is one of the most popular in the animal industry.  The vet tech profession has grown exponentially in recent years, and demand for qualified technicians remains extremely strong in the current market.  While this is an excellent career path to consider, it is important that aspiring veterinary technicians take into account both the pros and cons of working in this industry:

PROS

Job Security

There is strong demand for veterinary technicians.  In the most recent (2012) survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected rate of growth for the profession was extremely strong—30 percent over the next decade, a rate much faster than the average for other professions surveyed.  Veterinary technicians should have no problem finding a job with such sustained demand for the foreseeable future.

Variety

The nature of veterinary work virtually guarantees that no two days are alike.  Technicians get to perform a wide variety of procedures, see many different patients and interact with a dozen or more owners each day.

Opportunities for Advancement

There are usually opportunities for advancement in the veterinary office.  Technicians may be promoted to a supervisory role over time (either working as a head technician or in an administrative position such as veterinary practice manager).

  They may also advance their career by achieving a specialty certification that can lead to higher salary and more specialized duties.

Hands-On Work With Animals

Working with animals in hands-on capacity is a huge selling point for this career path.  Veterinary technicians have constant interaction with their patients ranging from general exams to post-surgical care.

  They can directly see the impact they have on the animals they treat.

Job Perks

There are a number of job perks enjoyed by veterinary technicians in addition to standard items like health insurance or paid time off.  One particularly big perk is free or heavily discounted care for the employee’s own pets at the clinic.  Techs may also receive scrubs (or a uniform allowance to purchase them).

CONS

Stress

The clinic can be a stressful work environment.  Technicians must be able to deal with upset owners, aggressive or uncooperative animals, euthanasia, and seeing extremely severe injuries caused by trauma or neglect.  Stress is one of the biggest factors cited by techs that decide to leave the profession.

Salary

You won’t starve working as a vet tech, but you are likely to only make a moderate salary for your efforts.  Even techs with specialty certification do not earn particularly large salaries.  A Frontline survey (2014) found that credentialed veterinary technicians were paid an average of $17.02 per hour, while those with specialty certification earned an average of $21.34 per hour.  The 2013 BLS salary report found that the mean salary for veterinary technicians and technologists was even lower: just $31,670 per year ($15.27 per hour).

Long Hours

Many veterinary technicians work much more than the traditional 40 hour work week.  Many clinics are open on Saturdays, and some clinics are open 7 days a week.  Emergency clinics may be staffed around the clock.  Even in a clinic that keeps more traditional hours, there are often occasions where they are understaffed, resulting in mandatory overtime work.

Risk of Injury

One of the biggest drawbacks to this and many other hands-on animal career paths is a higher risk of being injured at work.  Veterinary technicians must work with animals under considerable stress from injury or being in an unfamiliar environment (and sometimes both of these things play a role simultaneously).  A tech must be very careful to avoid bites or kicks from their patients, taking extreme care to handle and restrain animals properly at all times.