The vast majority of veterinary technicians, about 90 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor, are employed in veterinary services -- usually an animal clinic or hospital. Vet techs, however, are also found in a variety of other animal care and laboratory settings. Veterinary technicians can find work in places like:
- Boarding kennels
- Humane societies and animal rescue shelters
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Tesearch facilities at a university
- Wildlife sanctuaries
Employment in aquariums and zoos tends to be the most competitive, as opportunities for veterinary technicians are considered highly desirable and more limited.
Vet techs must often work in chaotic, loud, and sometimes hazardous, environments, so the ability to concentrate and remain calm and competent in such settings is crucial. In addition to caring about animals, vet techs must be patient and responsible, exercising caution when handling and treating animals and dealing with irate pet owners in a professional manner. Some vet techs work overtime, 24-hour shifts, or more than 40 hours per week. Occupational injuries and work-related illness are occur on a higher than average basis with vet techs than in other occupations. Emotional stress and exhaustion may result from working as a vet tech.
Salary for Vet Techs
One potential stressor of a vet tech job is the relatively low salary. A 2007 survey conducted by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA) showed that while 43 percent of respondents said that they would definitely stay in the vet tech profession, nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “Veterinary technicians are so underpaid that the feasibility of staying in the profession is declining.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual wages for vet techs in 2008 was $28,900. The middle 50 percent earned between about $24,000 to $35,000 per year.
Career Outlook for Vet Techs
The demand for veterinary technicians is, and will remain, high, making attending vet tech school very attractive. The U.S. Department of Labor ranks the job outlook of the vet tech profession as excellent, meaning that there will be more job openings than qualified applicants over the next ten years. There is an expected 36 percent growth rate in veterinary technician employment expected from 2008 to 2018.
There are a couple reasons for the increase in vet tech employment. First, there is a great need for newly qualified veterinary technicians to replace those who decide to leave the profession or retire. Second, employment as a vet tech is very promising because there are significantly fewer graduates of two-year vet tech degree programs than is required to meet the high level of demand for veterinary technicians.