Should I Become A Veterinarian Or A Veterinary Technician?

"I really want to have an occupation where I can help out animals. I love cats and dogs, and I have a lot of experience being a pet owner. I am intimidated by the prospect of going to school to become a veterinarian, though. It sounds like a lot of work. So I was thinking becoming a vet tech might be easier. Which one should I do, should I become a vet or a vet tech?"

asked by Samantha from Houston, TX

There are several factors to consider when you are deciding whether to become a veterinarian or a vet tech. You’d have to consider similar matters if you were trying to decide whether to be a doctor or a nurse, or any other set of professions with different levels of responsibility.

How much money do you want to make?

Vet techs in 2010 made a median annual salary of $29,710 per year, or $14.28 per hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Vets on the other hand made a median annual wage of $84,460 per year, or $40.61 per hour. From a financial standpoint, it definitely makes more sense to become a vet in the long run.

How much time and money do you want to spend on schooling?

Here is where becoming a vet has some drawbacks. You need a doctoral degree in order to become a veterinarian. To become a vet tech, you only need a two year associate’s degree and a license. That is a huge difference, which is one reason many people choose to become technicians first, and later go on to earn their doctoral degrees and become full-fledged veterinarians.

How much opportunity are you looking for?

Jobs for vets are growing by about 12%, but jobs for vet techs are growing by 52%. From that point of view, there are definite advantages to pursuing a career as a vet tech. There are going to be a lot more openings for technicians than there will be for vets.

How much responsibility do you want?

If you become a vet tech, you will be taking orders from the veterinarian. If you decide to become a vet, however, you will be the one giving orders to a team of vet techs. If you want to be a in a leadership role and assume more responsibility, you probably want to become a vet.

Otherwise, you may prefer to act in a support role as a vet tech. Vet techs also usually find that their opinions are taken less seriously than those of veterinarians, but this is changing with stricter licensing requirements for technicians.

Deciding whether to become a veterinarian or a vet tech is a personal choice which should take into account your preferences as far as salary, education, and job duties.

Either role can be a very rewarding one which gives you an opportunity to help pets and their owners. Whatever your choice, you will be embarking on a career where you can keep pets healthy and happy.

Career Spotlight: Veterinary Technician

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