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Veterinary Technician (Farm Animals): Education and Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a veterinary technician who specializes in farm animals. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and credentialing to find out if this is the career for you.

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Veterinary technicians provide animal care under the direction of a veterinarian. They require an associate's degree in veterinary medicine and licensing in many states. The job outlook for this profession is faster than the job market as a whole, and the median salary is about $32,000.

Essential Information

Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in caring for animals. They might choose to specialize in the care of a particular type of animal, such as farm animals. Veterinary technicians might collect information about animals and interview owners. Completion of a 2-year degree program in veterinary medicine is required to become a vet technician, and many states require passing an exam to become registered, regardless of specialty.

Required Education Associate's degree in veterinary technology
Credentialing Most states require technicians to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 19%*
Median Salary (2015) $31,800*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for a Veterinary Technician

Aspiring veterinary technicians might acquire training by enrolling in an associate's degree program at an accredited community or vocational college. The curriculum combines coursework in anatomy, physiology and large animal care, in addition to laboratory work and clinical practice. Schools with agricultural programs and farms also might have courses in which students can work with horses, cows, pigs and other farm animals.

During their collegiate careers, students also might complete internships and clinical rotations at local animal hospitals, allowing them to gain experience with diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, large animal medicine, parasitology, veterinary medical terminology and animal nursing.

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Career Profile for a Veterinary Technician

Farm animal veterinary technicians might work for veterinary clinics and animal hospitals, as well as farms and ranches. Duties can range from administering vaccinations to cattle to ensuring that herds are healthy. These professionals also might record animal case histories and monitor animal diets.

Licensure and Certification

Although states vary in their licensing or certification requirements, most require veterinary technicians to pass an examination upon completing their training program. States might have their own licensing exams or use the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Additionally, veterinary technicians interested in working in research might consider becoming certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.

Career and Salary Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide specific information for veterinary technicians who work exclusively with farm animals, it does note that jobs for vet technicians and technologists in general were expected to increase by 19% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This is due in part to advances in veterinary treatments and a growing preference by veterinarians for using vet technicians to provide assistance with complex tasks. The BLS also stated that the median annual wage for veterinary technicians and technologists was $31,800 as of May 2015.

Veterinary technicians complete coursework in veterinary medicine as part of their associate's degree. They may also perform internships or do clinical work to gain experience in the field. Certification usually requires passing a state or a board exam.

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