One of the most common questions asked by individuals who are very interested in furthering their education and looking for vet tech schools is “will an associates degree be sufficient to earn a decent salary?”. In this post we set out to answer that question.
Becoming a Veterinary Technician with an associates degree can be a great option for those looking to get into the field but not have a years worth of schooling. Here is some more information about the Vet Tech salary with an associates degree.
Vet Tech Salary With Associates Degree Overview
Veterinary Technician Salary
A veterinary technician salary varies based on location and job responsibilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a veterinary technician was $31,940 as of May 2017. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $22,470 per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $42,730 per year.
Veterinary technicians are employed in a variety of settings including animal clinics, animal hospitals and research facilities. They may also work at farms or kennels that raise animals for food or other purposes.
Because of the high cost of education, many people choose to train as a veterinary technician through an associate’s degree program at community colleges or technical schools rather than attending a four-year university. Many employers require this type of certification before they hire someone as an entry level veterinary assistant.
What Is A Vet Tech And What Do Vet Techs Do?
A veterinary technician—a trained nurse for animals—carefully opens a sleeping dog’s mouth. She reveals two rows of sharp teeth and starts taking x-rays to show weaknesses where the enamel has worn down over time. She documents her observations from the diagnostic image and prepares the patient file. This veterinary technician specialist (VTS) has been specially trained in canine dentistry and may assist the veterinarian if her patient needs a tooth extracted. This is one of many important roles that a vet tech may assume within a clinic or animal hospital.
Becoming a vet tech can be an excellent option for animal-lovers seeking an accelerated degree program, which is more affordable and less time-consuming than attending veterinary medical school. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), vet techs play a crucial role in veterinary settings by monitoring the health conditions of animal patients; taking diagnostic images with sophisticated equipment; providing veterinarians with surgical, dental, anesthetic, and other types of assistance; restraining animals during routine examinations; processing laboratory samples; liaising with pet-owners; preparing vaccines and serums; maintaining clinic inventory; and ensuring the smooth functioning of the veterinary office.
The professional dedication in this field is reflected in the Veterinary Technician’s Oath, which is quoted here in full from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA):
Salaries for Vet Tech with an Associate’s Degree
According to our 100% employer reported salary sources the median salary for a Vet Tech with an Associate’s Degree is $34,492 – $37,811. Please try our salary wizard to explore how other factors like location, Years of experience and number of direct reports can impact your base pay and bonus.
What Does a Vet Tech Do?
Depending on the organization you work with, your duties will likely vary.
However, as a vet tech, it’s likely that you will assist in observing animals’ conditions, ensure animals are comfortable and taken care of, will be responsible for x-ray development and assessment, provide emergency care, and perform lab exams.
You will also act as an assistant to the veterinarian in many cases, work in the research lab, and deal with feeding and caring for the animals in your facility.
Here are a few of the duties that vet techs are responsible for:
- bathing, feeding, and caring for animals
- collecting lab samples
- working the research lab
- providing emergency assistance to doctors
- taking and developing x-rays
- caring for injured or sick animals
- administering vaccines and helping with routine procedures
- documenting animal behavior
How to Become a Vet Tech
Step 1Get Your High School Diploma or GED
Vet techs are required to have obtained either their four-year high school diploma or will need to have their GED.
This is required.
Step 2Earn Your Associates Degree
All vet techs must have their AAs in order to become a veterinary technician.
The most accepted way to do this is to complete a 2-year program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (called the AVMA).
Only three states will sub this out for on the job training — Alaska, California, and Wisconsin.
Every other state requires that you have your AA to become a vet tech.
Step 3Earn Your Credentials
Though qualifications vary state by state, you must ensure that you’re earning the necessary credentials specific to your location.
The credentials are likely that you must become either a Licensed Vet Tech, a Certified Vet Tech, or a Registered Vet Tech.
In 47 states — barring Alaska, California, and Wisconsin — you must complete and pass a state-approved training exam in order to become a vet tech.
This test can be waived for those who have passed their Veterinary Technician National Exam in their accredited courses.
Step 4Gain Experience
Once you’ve passed the appropriate courses and exams, find a mentor, work toward an apprenticeship, or find an establishment that offers plenty of on-the-job training.
Continue to gain experience and explore your career paths and options.
Step 5Continue Certification to Broaden Your Career Outcome
Consider pursuing advanced certification or specialization in order to broaden your horizon.
This could include, but is not limited to, taking more collegiate level courses, applying to professional organizations and certifications, and becoming further licensed and certified in physiology, lab procedures, animal handling, nutrition, and more.