Overview of Veterinary Nurse Training
As a veterinary nurse, more commonly referred to as a veterinary technologist or technician, you'll most likely work in an animal hospital or private clinic, assisting veterinarians. Other veterinary technologists and technicians work in research facilities, animal shelters, social advocacy organizations or government groups. Most work under the supervision of trained veterinarians.
Choosing to become a veterinary nurse comes down to the type of education you'd like to receive. In general, technologists and technicians perform medical tests, assist with surgeries, treat wounds and diagnose medical issues in animals. They may also work in research facilities and promote animal health.
Veterinary Nurse Training: Degrees and Coursework
The educational requirement is the largest divide between veterinary technologists and technicians. Veterinary technician training typically requires 2 years of study, leading to an associate degree, while technologists require 4 years, leading to a bachelor's degree.
Coursework for veterinary nurses is designed to provide a stable base for years of career success. Take a look at some of the coursework you'll find in a typical veterinary nurse program:
- Pharmacology and Anesthesia
- Animal Management and Nutrition
- Veterinary Clinical Pathology
- Principles of Medicine
- Radiation Surgery/Radiology
Veterinary nurse training programs also provide students with valuable hands-on training and experience. Though not all degree programs offer clinical training, those that do give students the chance to gain experience under the watchful eye of instructors. This valuable training period gives students the chance to test the skills they've learned in a supportive environment, allowing them to eventually enter the workforce with confidence.
While no formal training program can guarantee a particular career or salary, formal education is often preferred or required by hiring managers looking for experienced, professional workers. Each state has different licensing requirements for veterinary nurses, but all require a qualifying exam. For aspiring veterinary nurses considering employment in a research lab, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certification is recommended.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that about 160 veterinary technology programs were accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2009. Explore veterinary technologist and technician training programs and learn more about your options.
Veterinary Nurse Career Outlook
Employment for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations in the coming years. The BLS reports that employment options for veterinary technologists and technicians are expected to grow 36 percent between 2008 and 2018. An increasingly wealthy population of pet owners is partly to credit for the big projected gains.
Veterinary technologists and technicians earned mean annual wages of $30,580 in 2009, according to the BLS. For some of the most competitive jobs, formal training will likely be a requirement. For example, working as a veterinary nurse at a local zoo or aquarium will typically require education and hands-on experience.
Resources for Veterinary Nurses: