According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the demand for veterinary technician assistants is on the rise, and the employment rate is expected to grow by 52% by the year 2020. These figures are above the national average and are brought about by the far-reaching technological advancements that have taken place in veterinary service over the last ten years.
Many employers from private to public to non-profit organizations are continually seeking the services of veterinary technicians. The vet techs are hired to help in various veterinary practices and most employers are willing to pay a lucrative vet tech salary to attract the best and brightest talent. There are various factors that impact a vet tech earnings including education, experience, the type of employer and the geographical location.
Besides the salary, many people choose to become veterinary technicians because of the love they have for the animals despite the job having its physical and emotional downsides.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2013, the average vet tech salary was $31,570 annually or the equivalent of $15.18 per hour. The highest paid vet tech took home about $44,740 per year while the lowest paid vet technician earned not more than $20,880 annually.
The Highest Paying Employers
According to the BLS, vet techs employed by state and federal government agencies have the highest average annual salaries. Such veterinary technicians earn between $48,020 and $44,770 annually. Veterinary technicians employed by general hospitals earn an average of $43,400 annually while those working for an employment service take home an average annual salary of $38,410. Medical laboratories and diagnostics pay an average annual salary of $37,730.
The Highest Paying States
Vet tech salary can vary depending on the location. For instance in 2011, veterinarian technicians working in Alaska earned an average salary of $38,190 per year effectively making the state number one on BLS’s list of the five highest-paying states for vet techs.
New York came in second with an average annual salary of $37,460 with Connecticut, Virginia and Massachusetts taking the third, fourth and fifth position respectively. In Connecticut, the average annual salary stood at $36,640, in Virginia, it was $36,560 and in Massachusetts the salary was $36,380.
The Lowest Paying States
The BLS reported that veterinarian assistants working in West Virginia were the lowest paid with an average annual salary of $25,780. In Oklahoma, the salary averaged at $26,360 and in Idaho it was $26,390. The other states where the vet tech salary was below the national average were Kentucky and Alabama. Here, the average annual salary was $26,770 and $26,960 respectively.
The Highest Paying Metropolitan Areas
The vet tech salary for technicians employed by the state and federal governments might be the highest according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, individual metropolitan areas sometimes report salaries that are considerably higher than the average federal and state salary. In Sacramento for instance, the average vet tech salary was $47,990 annually while, in Wisconsin, the highest paid vet technician earned an average annual salary of $46,570.
Vet Technician Benefits
Apart from the salary, vet technicians are entitled to additional benefits. Many full-time vet technicians get dental and medical insurance. They also receive continuing education reimbursement and discounted pet care.
They are also entitled to life and liability insurance, 401(k) retirement plans, profit sharing and paid time off, including sick leave as well as vacation days. Part-time employees may also receive prorated benefits although most employers don’t offer any fringe benefits for veterinary technicians who work for less than 40 hours per week.
Other indirect benefits a vet technician can enjoy include on-the-job training, networking opportunities, hands-on learning experience and the potential of advancing one’s career. Although the benefits are not quoted in the veterinary job description, they can still have a remarkable impact on a vet technician’s decision to for work with one employer over another.
Veterinary Technician Job Outlook
The employment for vet technician is expected to grow as the number of pet owners increases nationwide. It is expected that as currently employed technicians advance in their careers to take supervisory and training positions, new technicians will enter the field to fill in the positions left by the advancing technicians.
The BLS estimates that close to 29,000 new veterinary technicians jobs will be created by the year 2016. These projections make the veterinary field one of the fastest growing careers of all occupations. Also, the increased responsiveness towards responsible pet ownership in the recent years has led to an increase in pet care awareness, and more pet owners are expected to seek professional health services.
A Day in the Life of a Veterinary Technician
The duties of a vet tech may differ based on the location, experience and the level of education. Typically, they are required to perform medical tests such as taking blood samples, assisting in dental work, performing medical tests in addition to analyzing patients and test results. Since most veterinary technicians work in private offices of veterinarians, they are typically trained to work with a few select of animals such as large animals, horses and small pets.
As a veterinary technician, you’re expected to keep the information between the veterinarian and the client confidential. You cannot discuss any information about a pet owner or the animal’s treatment outside the veterinary practice. The only time when you can compromise a client’s confidentiality is when the animal’s condition or disease must be revealed due to the public interest.
As a vet tech, you should be prepared to work under unpleasant and dangerous conditions due to the unpredictable nature of sick or hurt animals. A day in the life of a vet can be long sometimes depending on the circumstances therefore you must learn to work under pressure. You need to be a good communicator to become a successful veterinary technician because the job involves talking to animal owners and veterinarians.
Just like every branch of medicine, veterinary medicine keeps changing over time. Thus, vet techs must be committed to long-life learning in the profession and keep abreast with new technological developments. Also, if you want to earn more money, don’t settle for an associates degree. Advance to a bachelor’s degree and you will stand in a better position for a higher pay.