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Veterinary technicians perform a wide range of tasks that keep animals safe and healthy, while offering exceptional levels of compassion and care. Veterinary technician programs teach students the technical skills required to perform the essential duties that ensure animal well-being, mostly under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Common job duties for veterinary technicians in Michigan and other states include:

  • Observing animals for changes in behavior or health
  • Proving first aid and nursing care to sick or injured animals
  • Administering medicine or certain therapies
  • Collecting lab samples
  • Taking X-rays and developing them for veterinary use
  • Performing various treatments that can improve animal well-being and health

Fast Facts for Veterinary Technicians in Michigan

Approximately 2,830 veterinary technologists and technicians were employed in Michigan in 2014. While these workers were spread out all over the state, the following regions employed the bulk of them:

  • Warren - Troy - Farmington Hills: 970
  • Detroit - Livonia - Dearborn: 470
  • Grand Rapids - Wyoming: 250
  • Kalamazoo - Portage: 210
  • Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area: 190
  • Lansing - East Lansing: 160
  • Ann Arbor: 150
  • Flint: 80
  • Holland - Grand Haven: 60
  • Monroe: 60

Although employment is already relatively high for veterinary technologists and technicians in Michigan, job openings could surge even further in the coming years. In fact, U.S. Department of Labor estimates that job openings could increase 30.5 percent in the state from 2012 to 2022.

Salaries for Veterinary Technicians in Michigan

Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that veterinary technologists and technicians in Michigan earn respectable wages. As of 2014, the annual mean wage for these workers was $31,460, which works out to approximately $15.13 per hour. Still, this is slightly less than the national annual mean wage for this profession, which was $32,250 in 2014.

On a national level, some industries paid veterinary technicians and technologies wages that were much higher than average. Here are the top-paying industries in 2014:

  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: $56,050
  • Federal Executive Branch: $49,940
  • State Government: $43,240
  • Local Government: $42,350
  • Scientific Research and Development Services: $41,110

Metro Areas for Salary and Popularity

Region

Employment per 1,000 Residents

Annual Mean Wage in 2014

Warren - Troy - Farmington Hills

0.84

$31,240

Detroit - Livonia - Dearborn

0.66

$32,190

Grand Rapids - Wyoming

0.62

$31,080

Kalamazoo - Portage

1.58

$28,730

Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area

0.63

$28,980

Lansing - East Lansing

0.78

$39,510

Ann Arbor

0.72

$34,420

Holland - Grand Haven

0.56

$30,050

Flint

0.56

$28,720

Monroe

1.52

$27,590

Expert Q&A

To learn more about what a career in veterinary technology is all about, we reached out to a certified veterinary technician who now teaches in this dynamic field. Julie Carlson, CVT and Founder/Director of Vets for Vets' Pets, offers her expert insights below:

What is the best part about working as a veterinary technician?

The best part of working in veterinary technology is knowing that each and every day you are making a difference in an animal's life. A lot of people say, "Oh, I could never cause an animal pain, give one a shot, anything like that." But it's quite the opposite. Many animals come to us in pain, but, unlike people, they can't tell us where it hurts. We are educated and trained to pick up on subtle clues about an animal's condition and we can use that information to help them heal. We get to be the ones working with them every day. We hand-feed them, we clean them when they're dirty, we do physical therapy with them, we monitor them during surgery. We are the ones whose hands they lick in gratitude when they feel better. And that feels amazing.

What should students look for when choosing a veterinary technician program?

When someone decides they want to become a veterinary technician, the first thing they should do is make a connection with a veterinary clinic and schedule at least 2 days to follow the technicians around and watch what they do. A lot of people have the impression that we play with puppies and kitties all day, but we are highly educated staff members who do the majority of the hands-on work in a clinic. Once you have observed technicians working, if you decide that's the career path for you, investigate the vet tech schools near you. Take note - a veterinary assisting program is not the same as a veterinary technology program. A good vet tech school will let you tour the facility, ask questions, read the course outlines, and see the statistics for the VTNE pass rate and job placement numbers. (The VTNE is the Veterinary Technician National Exam; it's the test we have to pass to become credentialed.) Also speak to veterinary clinics and professionals in your area and ask their opinion of the graduates from local schools. If you have a lot of people telling you that graduates of XYZ school seem undereducated and ill-prepared, that might be a school you want to avoid.

How has this industry changed in the past ten years? How do you think it might change in the future?

The veterinary industry has been experiencing rapid changes in the last several years. One of the major changes is that, in January 2010, the law was changed to state that you now must be a graduate of a 2-year American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-accredited veterinary technology program in order to take the VTNE. Many states have also enacted laws stating that you cannot legally be called a "veterinary technician" unless you have passed both the VTNE and the state exams (laws on credentialing vary from state to state). In 1994, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) formed the Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties. So if you have a special interest in surgery, zoo medicine, behavior, dentistry, nutrition, or several other areas, you can go further in your education and your career and become a Veterinary Technician Specialist.

Are there any downsides to working in this industry?

As with any profession, the good comes with the bad. Some days you see some terrible things: an animal hit by a car with devastating injuries, a dog from a puppy mill suffering from a lack of care and medical attention, animals that have been the victim of abuse. There will be occasions when you see a pet that you have grown attached to be put to sleep. You will deal with some owners who choose to not provide appropriate medical care for an injured or ailing pet. And the best we can do to get through times like these is to take care of each other. Compassion fatigue is a very real thing. A 2015 study found that veterinarians are four times as likely as the general public, and twice as likely as other health care professionals, to die by suicide. This is something we keep in mind at all times. We care for each other and form close-knit families to support each other and provide an outlet when one of us needs to grieve. The statistics can be scary, but it's the little things that make it all worth it. When that cat starts purring again after you nurse it through an illness…when that dog with the broken jaw starts eating after surgery… when you get licked on the hand by that dog that didn't trust anyone before you…that's what keeps us coming back for more.

Sources:

  1. Interview with Julie Carlson, CVT and Founder/Director of Vets for Vets' Pets, November 18, 2015
  2. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  3. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Michigan, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.htm
  4. Veterinary Technician Licensure Instructions, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch_vet_tech_full_appkt_88542_7.pdf
  5. Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm#tab-1
  6. Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292056.htm
  7. Veterinary Technician Examination, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Michigan, http://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-72600_72603_27529_27555-42805 -- ,00.html
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Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Vet Techs

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Michigan. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Vet Techs

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Vet Techs relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Ann Arbor 160 $30,920
Flint 60 $28,930
Grand Rapids 240 $30,140
Wyoming 240 $30,140
Detroit 1600 $30,800
Warren 1600 $30,800
Dearborn 1600 $30,800
Saginaw N/A $31,610
Lansing 170 $36,940
East Lansing 170 $36,940
Kalamazoo 170 $24,070
Portage 170 $24,070
Muskegon 30 $27,920
Niles 30 $31,510
Benton Harbor 30 $31,510

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