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Any Vet Techs here? (Title change...tell me about your job)

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  • Any Vet Techs here? (Title change...tell me about your job)

    My dd is going to graduate in a year and a half and is going to be headed to a vet tech program. She wants to specialize in large animal and what we are finding is mostly small animal program focus. Here in upstate NY the need for large animal vets and techs is dire...any advice for her? What's the outlook for employment? Internships? I worked in a small animal clinic so I am not much help to her.
    Last edited by equineartworks; Dec. 4, 2008, 09:06 AM.
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

  • #2
    I thought I understood your question, but now I'm not so sure. Is she looking for places to work and do her internship? 18 months away... that might be a bit difficult to pin-down a placement. Or is she wondering how hard it will be to get employed?

    Or, do you think she is looking in the wrong field, that is, large animal versus small animal. She may have to do small animals for awhile until something opens in her preferred field. Just like many students who become teachers...

    Is her college helping her with outplacement? Is she attending a small college or Cornell?

    My sister works at a huge conglomerate vet clinic in Lewis County... about 70 minutes north of Utica, in Lowville. They do small and large animal. She also, on the side, sets up a lameness vet's truck for him every week. He is not associated with the clinic that she works at. She used to travel with him, but took the nearly full-time at the clinic instead. She works primarily as a receptionist/scheduler/phone help.

    Depending on how far south in the southern tier you are, she could also check in PA...

    Where I am in Michigan is about 90 minutes from a veterinary teaching university. Michigan State. My farm vet nearly always has students riding with him doing their rotations. Everytime I am a little perplexed because I forget that the students may not have any interest in horses and therefore, know very little about illnesses, feed, care, handling, etc. He has a small studio apartment above the clinic and the students pay for their own food.

    Your dd may want to start shopping around for vets who might allow her to travel with them when she is home on vacation / holiday breaks, etc. I know other vets that allow that. Student receives no pay... just experience.


    • Original Poster

      Gabz this is exactly what I was looking for. THANKS!

      We have a somewhat unique situation because she will be just 16 when she enters a program. Because of her age the schools we have talked to think she would be best served attending an AVMA approved distance program for her coursework and her interships locally as well as a few of her lab courses. Most of these programs focus on small animal...

      I think it would work best if she does the small animal first, like you suggest, simply because there is just so many more opportunities. Then she can add large animal coursework as she goes, and perhaps that, coupled with work experience will get her what she wants eventually. After she finishes school she wants to do the Cornell Farrier program too so I think that might help her as well.

      ....I learned SO much working in the clinic I worked in and I just assisted and worked in the office.
      Last edited by equineartworks; Dec. 4, 2008, 09:07 AM. Reason: forgot a word
      I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

      Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


      • #4
        Make sure she understands that she will not make a lot of money as a vet tech. Many places use unlicensed techs so they don't have to pay too much. There are some things that only a licensed tech can do, so there is some salary differential, but not a lot. Since she is only 16, a vet tech program may be a good stepping stone for her. I would encourage her to think of possibilities for further education after she finishes the vet tech program.


        • #5
          like vet schools, tech programs have to teach all the course work to apply to all the species. There are seldom learning tracks. She will learn general knowledge with a majority of the hands on work focused on small animal. This is the national standard. Most states now require boards which cover the general knowledge, much of which cross / supports work with any species of animal. Sinking a catheter in a cat is no different than sinking one in a horse. The only difference is location and size.

          I would not encourage my daughter to pursue a vet tech career long term. I find it can be fairly dead end for most people. I think it is a useful start to a long term career and a good foundation for her learning process. Have a tech license can help pay the way through other programs. There are many horse based 4 year programs in equine sciences and management. I, myself, am sorry I did not know about some of the breeding management programs back when I was going through my schooling process.

          Being a tech can be a rewarding experience but in the long term it is a low paying job with little / no benefits ( medical dental paid vacation retirement) unless you have a corporate / government type situation. There is a high turn over rate.

          Her age might work against her at the start but having an AVMA accredited 2 year degree will be a useful tool to getting a job with practical application of skills while she pursues the more focused studies with horses. Everything she learns working with dogs and cats will be called upon in working with horses and their people. It will not be waisted time.
          -- * > hoopoe
          Procrastinate NOW
          Introverted Since 1957


          • #6
            Originally posted by AKB View Post
            Many places use unlicensed techs so they don't have to pay too much.
            In New York, I believe all vet techs must be licensed. Of course, that doesn't mean the pay will be all that great...

            I went to SUNY Delhi and the vet tech students were constantly studying (didn't drink nearly as much as us An Sci majors, LOL!)- it appeared to be a tough course of study. I'm surprised that they'd let a 16 yo into the program.


            • #7
              I would recommend she do some research about the job and the regional area in which she wants to live. The area where I lived while in school getting my tech degree was not far from the state university vet school. This meant that the vets paid absolute CRAP because of the huge number of vet students who would happily work for peanuts. In the town where the university is located, almost no one pays over $7/hour (starting) certified or not. The surrounding towns paid slightly more at $8-9/hour starting with more given to people with actual hospital/clinic experience rather than education. Usually a certified tech started around $9/hour unless you were lucky enough to get on at the university teaching hospital which requires certification as starts at almost $15/hour. Which sounds great until you discover that either you love the vet school or hate it so there is a crazy high turnover rate there. I know this sounds really negative, but I have the degree which I am not using because selling my horse to afford my job was not an option. Plenty of people manage on the pay, I just could not because I did not love the work enough to sacrifice for it. Best of luck to her.


              • #8
                I worked for a while as an unlicensed tech at a big equine hospital. I loved the work, and the people I worked with, but the pay was lousy ($8.50/hr, and was no better for the licensed techs) for a job that kept you moving and working HARD for the entire 8 hour shift. On top of that, it was risky. We handled a lot of broodmares, weanlings, and yearlings who obviously were never touched outside of the hospital.

                There was a high turnover rate, and none of the techs were over about 30 years old - I think after a while they just hit the point where they realized there were jobs that paid better and were less physically demanding and dangerous. I don't think becoming a tech is a bad thing, but she should carefully consider what's involved, maybe try to work at a vet's aide before she goes into the program.


                • Original Poster

                  thanks to you all for your honesty...

                  I don't want her to be discouraged (which I think she is, although it is what she REALLY wants to do) because she will be just 18 when finishes the program and sits for the boards. She'll have it to work with and learn from and has time to really decide what to do with her life. She's just very "focused" for a young kid, it's probably the Asperger's in her It's a blessing in someways and a curse in others.
                  I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                  Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by midkniggit View Post
                    I worked for a while as an unlicensed tech at a big equine hospital. I loved the work, and the people I worked with, but the pay was lousy ($8.50/hr, and was no better for the licensed techs) for a job that kept you moving and working HARD for the entire 8 hour shift. On top of that, it was risky. We handled a lot of broodmares, weanlings, and yearlings who obviously were never touched outside of the hospital.

                    Ditto. I bet we worked at the same place.

                    I loved that job, but it doesn't pay enough to live on if you own horses.


                    • #11
                      encourage her to realize that one does not have to be set and done by the time they are 20 - 22. Some of the best vets I know got their DVM at 40

                      one step at a time but I would encourage you to guide her to know a tech degree should not be the end point.
                      -- * > hoopoe
                      Procrastinate NOW
                      Introverted Since 1957


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by hoopoe View Post
                        encourage her to realize that one does not have to be set and done by the time they are 20 - 22. Some of the best vets I know got their DVM at 40

                        one step at a time but I would encourage you to guide her to know a tech degree should not be the end point.
                        I agree, but it's hard with kids with Autism to understand that. They have VERY cut and dried ways of thinking sometimes. I'm "finding myself" at 40, maybe that's what she's afraid of
                        I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                        Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


                        • #13
                          Hey Hoopoe,
                          When do they finish paying off those 200K in loans? At 65?

                          Seriously though as a practice owner and a vet tech, I encourage everyone to run away as fast as possible. Lots of stress, little financial reward. The staff I have working for me re either second incomes or living check to check. The economic climate is not good and many hospitals are cutting back both hours benifits and salaries. Now, there are some out there, where this line of work is truely their calling. But the only way you find out is by working in the field a little while.
                          Lisa Coletto
                          Standing Elite Hanoverian stallion, Cabalito


                          • #14
                            Wow, Im suprise how much you get paid as a tech in NY... just drive accross the boarder, go north 2 hours and you will make $20 in small animal and $30 in university hospitals.

                            My adivce - dont think of "specializung" while she is doing the course, learn all the small as well as the large. No schools offer "specialty" studies, but once she is registered, she can take more specific CE courses.

                            I know a lot of techs that go through the program at 16 - 17, its pretty common and she should have no problem getting through.


                            • #15
                              I looked into it but the pay is awful in most small animal clinics. There seems to be no end of unlicensed young people who will work for peanuts just to be around animals. You would think that a LVT would get paid a lot more because they can give shots, pull blood, etc. The State of Michigan passed a law a few yrs ago that anyone who gave shots had to be a licensed LVT. For a while they were grandfathering in people who did LVT tasks. I guess the university got a bit richer from tuitions, but in the real world, a LVT does not make enough to justify the cost of the degree IMO. You can get paid more if you want to work in a laboratory but that is too sad for me to think about. Hopefully other states treat their LVTs better than Michigan.
                              from sunridge1 Go get 'em Roy! Stupid clown shoe nailing, acid pouring bast@rds.


                              • #16
                                The worst job I ever had, hands down, was with a racehorse vet.

                                It was enlightening, as I was seeking a career as a vet.

                                I have years of expereince (could be LVT... didn't because headed towards vet school). I was paid a very competitive wage but it is, in general, a pathetic amount.

                                Maybe she can start working at a clinic as an assistant? We had many assistants at clinics we worked at. Many techs and doctors would take the enthusiastic, interested in learning assistants under their wing and teach them a lot. Even though the pay is rough, at least she is not accrusing student loans. Maybe encourage her to attend county college (you can start less than 18 years old without graduating HS yet.. I did) and get a 2 yr degree in a general education tract, which she will need for any 4 year degree (or to be a vet, eventually). It will be MUCH more useful than a 2 yr tech degree. Some vet schools look down at tech degrees, for a variety of reasons...

                                For the record, I have worked with vet techs that were doing an internship at the end of their tech degree. They often felt very unprepared to work in clinics. A good friend who managed a clinic in NY said she would rather NOT hire certified techs. Ones straight out of school think they know a whole lot more than the exp., non-LVT's and expect a decent wage...


                                • #17
                                  I have been working as a vet tech full time for 3 years. I went to a four year program. I work at a mixed practice, splitting my time between large and small animal. I think it will be hard to find a program that focuses just on large animal. I had one farm animal class that lasted for one semester and was very basic. It was basically just an introduction to large animal medicine because most of my classmates had never been around horses or cows, but I found it boring after working with a large animal vet during my summer break. In my area there are very few large animal vets, so having small animal knowledge to fall back on in case you can't get a large animal job isn't a bad idea. Also, the certification test covers all species.

                                  I would agree with everyone else about the pay not being very good. On the other hand, I figure any increase in a pay I would get by being a vet would go to vet school loans... There are other opportunities outside of private practices for vet techs to increase their pay, for example, working in research or for a drug company, neither of which are appealing to me. The pay isn't the best, but there is something to be said for loving your job. It is a very physically demanding job and at my practice, days on the road with one of the large animal vets can last for 12 hours or more in the busy season.

                                  The most important advice that I have is to make sure she goes to an AVMA accredited program, especially if you have to become certified in NY. As of a few years ago, you must have graduated from an AVMA accredited program to be able to take the test to become certified. Most of the colleges in my area that weren't accredited have gotten their accreditation since the change was made, but I would double check with the programs that you are looking at.

                                  If you have any other questions, feel free to send a PM.


                                  • #18
                                    I work at a major equine hospital...and while I love my job I make veeerrrrry little money. Like pathetically little. And the work is very hard, hours are very long, and advancement is non-existent. Most of us techs are young and there because they will hire anyone, or they needed the employee discount There are a few licensed techs, but they do mostly the exact same things that the unlicensed techs do.

                                    I'd suggest that your daughter go to a 4 yr college, get a fall back degree, and if she still wants to get licensed do it then. Or vice versa, get licensed now through those distance correspondence courses, work as a tech to save up money and get a 4 yr degree later.

                                    But, good luck to her whatever she chooses!


                                    • #19
                                      I'm a board certified vet tech and i went to Harcum College in Bryn Mawr,Pa which is where i got my degree-they specialize in both large and small animal but you have to learn both. We spent a 3 month internship at University of Pennsylvania's Large Animal New Bolten Center(one of the best in the country),and 3 months at University of Penn's small animal at VHUP. You stand to make the most money working in small animal,but if you get specialized or work at such a great place like New Bolten they've got many incentives,bonuses,great medical/health benefits,retirement plans etc-and the more experienced/specialized you are-the more you stand to make-it also depends on the area that you live in-for instance-chester county,pa and many other areas in pa,nj,and i'd imagine ny as well probably have a higher clientelle than more remote areas where sports medicine/horse showing etc isn't as big.
                                      R.I.P. "Henry" 4/22/05 - 3/26/2010 We loved you so much....gone but NEVER FORGOTTEN...i hope we meet again


                                      • #20
                                        I have been a vet tech for 21 years and get paid very well. I did my first 10 years in small animal, then 10 years for a large animal vet, mostly equine, and now am back to small animal. The pay you can get depends on so many factors. I never went to tech school, it was on the job training. If you are a hard worker and find the right place, you can do well. I work for a non-profit group in Houston. I get health insurance, vision, dental, loads of vacation time, 401k, etc. Its not easy to get here, but it can be done! My fat palomino gets fed better than I do, but he is worth it!!