Vet Techs React To Job Security Claims

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

March 5, 2009

Recent reports claiming that training as a veterinary technician guarantees employment have drawn reactions from vet techs insisting otherwise.

CBS Evening News reports that Laurence Shatkin, author of "150 Recession-Proof Jobs," lists vet techs as second, noting that pets are considered part of the family. "It's not considered discretionary spending anymore," he said.

Veterinary techs are trained and licensed to provide support and assistance to veterinarians in the care and treatment of animals. Their role is similar to the role a nurse plays working with doctors. Typical responsibilities include performing lab and clinical procedures.

CBS noted that in 2006, Americans spent $24.5 billion on their pets' healthcare, more than double what they spent a decade before. With pets living longer due to advances in technology for diagnosis and treatment, the vet tech field is expected to grow.

The CBS report said that at Florida's St. Petersburg College, vet tech is the school's most popular program, with a placement rate of 96 percent.

"It's been a pretty secure kind of thing that we expect when we're done with school, we know we have a job," said Cynthia Mark, a vet tech student at the college who quit her career working in computers. Over time, says the article, Mark can match the $70,000 salary of her old job.

Similarly, Florida's News Channel 8 reports that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of vet tech jobs will grow by 41 percent. The profession is fifth on the bureau's list of fastest growing occupations, just behind computer-related and home healthcare professions.

Dr. Richard Flora, dean of the program at St. Petersburg College, said that people often pay for the best pet medical care, regardless of cost. For example, cancer treatments, joint replacements and MRIs are becoming more common in veterinary medicine.

Flora noted that future vet techs will have no problems securing employment. "There will be a job out there for them when they get done," he told Channel 8.

But vet techs responded angrily to the CBS report. "You have done a real disservice to both vet techs and vet medicine in general by giving the general public the impression that techs can make anything close to $70K a year," wrote one person. He noted that in Colorado, much like with other professions, vet techs are being laid off as a result of the recession and a decrease in business.

"I would like to thank both CBS and Laurence Shatkin on behalf of vet techs and technologists nationwide," commented another person, "for completely blowing a great opportunity to provide any real truth to the public viewer. As I myself have witnessed with my own two eyes, vet techs in general practice will never come close to sniffing 70K a year. And the job is far from recession-proof."

Many viewers commented that the report was not realistic. "I would not want to discourage anyone from entering our profession," wrote one vet tech, "however, a realistic expectation, including pay and benefits, should be included as part of that research."

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