Calling vet techs.... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-01-2020, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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Calling vet techs....

Hi, I am currently a veterinary assistant that is considering going to vet tech school. Where I live is very rural and in order to go to college I would have to move away (several hours away) for 2 years which would be very taxing on my relationship. I do everything the techs do at my job and we are only .50/hr different in hourly pay- I take x-rays, do clerical work (its a small clinic so everyone pitches in), monitor vitals during surgeries/dentals, run panels on the Idexx and Pro-Cyte machines, fill prescriptions, etc. I was considering doing just the shortened livestock technician program seeing as livestock is truly my passion. This brings me to my question, is going to vet tech school really 'worth' it? Like is on the job experience more valuable than tech school? I don't prefer the clinic environment as much as I would working on a ranch, which are abundant in my area. I know several 'assistants' that never went to school but have been in the industry so long they are practically more like techs than certain techs I've known and stay in the field for decades and I've also seen techs who worked in a clinic for a few months-years, go to tech school, only to quit a year in. Is being licensed and credentialed that important if you just plan on working at a private facility and maybe the clinic a few hours a week? Or is there a shortened veterinary assisting program I could do? Thank you in advance.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-01-2020, 07:27 AM
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From someone not a vet tech looking in from the outside...

That piece of paper is magical at the doors it may open, the salary it can help you command, the respect you garner, the things you are legally allowed to do.
So, what do you do if you ever need/want or must change jobs?
Experience is one thing, sure...and important.
Having that licensing certificate though puts you ahead of other job candidates, a few levels up in payscale and opens doors toward other career parallel lines would never be a possibility otherwise.
Since we don't know what our future can bring..having the opportunity to better myself and my career = money earned I would do the course of study and own that license.

As for your relationship...it may put some strain to it, but ...but if it is meant to be then that relationship will also weather the time apart, be stronger and you each will appreciate the relationship and what you each bring into that relationship more.
2 hours away is do-able for seeing each other on a weekend. Only a hour away if you meet half way for a quick dinner, movie or time spent together...
Phones still work, skype or whatever you use you can still communicate...

If you really want a degree you will make the extra effort to attain it period.
I can tell you where I am grew up the difference in LVT or not was huge... about $15,000 more a year difference is not small potatoes. So, about $300 a week more gross salary...
The respect given to a good LVT.... in the vet group my small animals were clientele of you could see it, smell it and taste it how they had a professional attitude and authority in how they carried themselves.
Don't get me wrong, the other staff were knowledgeable, but there were limits on what "legally" they could do, and sorry, but there is a difference in knowledge that schooling gives you you just don't have.
I say go for it and have doors open for you no matter where your future life may take you because of a piece of paper.
...
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-01-2020, 02:17 PM
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I'm going to school to be a Vet Tech hopefully this fall, but I may not get in right away because they only accept a limited number of people. For me, it's only 2 years, I'm coming right out of HS, I've got the prerequisites done, so it was a pretty easy decision. For someone who's already been working as an assistant for years the decision is a little harder, but I'd still say go for it if you think you can for the same reasons hlg stated. If you already do what a tech does, most of the program should be a breeze.

I know several vets that only hire licensed techs, not assistants. That little license paper (you have to get one by state, so if you move you have to take an exam to get that state's vet tech license) does wonders. I chose the field because it's 1) working with animals, which is what I'm good at and 2) it's an extremely available jobs. There are multiple vets in my nearby area. In larger cities there may be a dozen clinics. I can go anywhere in the country and find a job.

I'd love to work on a ranch too and I'll do that for a summer after school if I can. With any job that's animal related, I'd think being a licensed vet tech looks nice on a resume.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-04-2020, 11:22 PM
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Around here it would only be worth it if you want to work at a major veterinary clinic- think Rood and Riddle Equine veterinary hospital.

If you are planning on working in a small town, local veterinary clinic then I don't think it is that important.

Consider where you want to live in the future, what salary you will require to maintain your lifestyle, if you want children or a big family, etc.

I looked at a career as a vet tech and decided it wasn't worth it because they hire college students for free internships and the salary was low, with a high level of skill requirements. Basically you need the training of a nurse, with a much lower salary. Might as well go into nursing or get a 2 year degree in a medical field.

Last edited by 4horses; 06-04-2020 at 11:27 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-04-2020, 11:40 PM
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I worked part-time in a small animal emergency clinic in high school and they were ready to train me to be a vet tech right on the job. They said I could go to school for it but it wouldn't really add anything to my education.......they didn't feel the ones that went to school were really any more prepared than what I could learn on the job.


That said, I went another direction with my life and never became a vet tech. But 20+ years ago, in Arizona, they didn't care about the piece of paper.


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post #6 of 6 Old 06-05-2020, 01:27 AM
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You never know what life will throw your way and you might as well have that piece of paper to tote around wherever you might end up. Better now than finding out the hard way five, ten, thirty years down the road.

A fellow vet tech moved to a different state last year and the new hospital that she took a job at required that she re-license with the new state before she was allowed to start working there. Because there is a growing number of qualified people and employers are increasingly strapped for time, everyone uses the "certified" filter to make it easier to find applicants they want. They also don't want to take the time to train a new person whose skills might not be set in stone from their previous employment. Not to mention the difference in pay.

I only know one person who went essentially her whole life without certification. She assisted, trained, and worked at the same hospital her entire life and has never been employed at any other hospital. She's kind of stuck there, though, because the only people who know how well she works are her own coworkers. There's nothing else to prove her tech worth besides the words of her buddies.

Granted - I am not a certified tech myself, so I can't speak to tech school itself. I am applying to vet school and being a non-certified tech is my stepping stone, not my life goal. I do just about everything my certified coworkers do (minus monitor anesthesia) and I would even say I do a bit better than one or two of my fresh-out-of-tech-school coworkers. But they're still "above" me and earn more because they have that piece of paper - it's just the way the world works.

My boyfriend is also a non-certified tech applying to vet school. He left his old job where he had worked his way up from kennel assistant to vet tech. Now he's applying for summer positions and potential employers are bumping him back down to kennel assistant because they can't know for sure he is truly able to do what he says he can do. He has to work his way back up all over again because he's not certified.

Of course, experience is absolutely valuable and can't be replaced, but you can get experience and certification and be that much better off.
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