If you enjoy being around animals and you see yourself working with them for a living, then a career of vet technician is surely the right choice for you.
Not to mention the fact that this job is becoming a coveted one, as it is thought that the employment in animal health industry will grow up to 30% per year through 2022.
You should know, though, before venturing into this profession, that it takes a lot more than just loving animals to become a good vet technician.
You need to have excellent communication skills with people, as in many cases, they are the ones you’ll have to calm down and show your support and understanding to, as well as physical capabilities like being on your feet a whole lot of time!
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Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Alaska
Once you’re ready and decided to try and pursue the career of a vet technician, you should get acquainted with the duties and responsibilities of one.
Normally, the job a vet technician in animal healthcare is similar to that of a nurse in human healthcare.
Apart from talking to the pets’ owners and, in general, communicating with people all the live long day, you’ll need to be capable of spending many hours on your feet, assisting veterinarians with whatever they need.
Your main duties may include the following tasks:
- restraining animals during examinations
- taking their body temperature and handling their bodily fluids or discharge
- taking their pulse
- taking x-rays
- applying medications, fluids and blood products following the veterinarians’ instructions
- addressing injuries and sometimes applying first aid, and let’s not forget the most important and challenging aspect of being a vet technician:
- assisting veterinarians in surgeries.
Now, be aware that you may not work in a veterinarian’s ambulance, because there are many options for vet technicians, and working at a vet’s private practice is just one of them.
You can opt for being one in some kind of an animal rescue or humanitarian/rescue organization, at a military service, at a zoo or exotic animals facility or even a pharmaceutical facility.
Depending on where you work, your duties will vary.
How to Become One?
Now when you’ve become acquainted with the duties of a vet technician, it’s time you find out something about the particular steps to become one in Alaska.
First thing you need to know is that, in order to attend programs for a vet technician, you’ll need to have passed general prerequisite courses in English, biology, basic math, sciences, or computer skills.
This is required because the courses within these programs are heavily science based and you’ll study subjects like:
- animal restraint
- wound care
- large and small animal nursing
Now, in order to become a vet technician, you’ll need to earn a Veterinary Technology Associate’s Degree of Applied Science.
You get one by attending accredited vet programs at a college in your country, and once you graduate, you get an Associate’s degree in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.
This means you will be qualified to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination).
ONLY those who graduated fro an accredited program are allowed to take the VTNE exams, so be sure to enroll into an accredited vet program.
You’ll need to pass the VTNE in order to become licensed in Alaska.
Education Required for a Vet Technician in Alaska
The next thing you should know, is that Alaska doesn’t have any accredited veterinary technician programs, and you’ll have to get your degree otherwise. Here are your options:
1. There are accredited schools across the country that have “distance education” (DE) programs, which means that the major part of your class work is done over the internet and you are in charge of arranging your free time and your general schedule.
As for your final internship that requires actual lab work and practice, you’re the one that chooses how to arrange those. So basically, you’re the one planning your own education.
For example, if you want to focus on small animals, you can plan your practice and lab work according to that decision.
2. Alaska is a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which is basically an agreement between 15 western states to allow students to attend college in each of the other member states at a reduced tuition level of 150% of that school’s in-state tuition.
So you can find colleges that offer vet programs and study there, but be careful because not all programs are accredited. Here, you can find a list of all states with accredited vet programs.
3. And option number three, is basically combining options one and two, which can be done in many ways, all depending on your means, schedule and what works best for you.
For example, you can finish all your prerequisites at your local two-year or four-year college before you jump on the distance-education bandwagon or attend one of the schools that the WICHE offers.
Whatever road you choose, you can expect to earn your Associate’s degree in three years or even less.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Since there are three very different roads you can take in order to complete your education for a vet technician, it is a little complicated to determine all the tuition rates.
But, normally, whether you decide to attend DE courses or to go to one of the WICHE states and attend a college there, you can expect to find a program that offers a tuition that shouldn’t cost more than $20,000 for the entire program.
Financial aid is less complicated to talk about, since every school program offers the same, traditional financial aid programs that all college students can apply for, if they meet the criteria.
You can apply to almost every financial aid program starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Licensing and Certification
As for the specific licenses for vet technicians in Alaska, there is the already mentioned Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) which is an exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
However, Alaska allows another way to become a licensed vet technician.
Of course, you’ll have to take the VTNE, but in order to get there, you don’t need to graduate from an accredited program.
Instead, you can complete two years of practice and training supervised by a licensed veterinarian (within three years prior to your application).
Getting a Job in Alaska
When you complete your veterinary technician education, you’ll probably want to start looking for a job immediately.
Fortunately, Alaska offers a number of clinics and animal hospitals where veterinary technicians are wanted.
Keep in mind that it can’t be predicted who will get hired and who has the upper hand – it all depends on the employer and their specific preferences at the time.
- Alaska State Veterinary Medical Association
- AKVMA, which gives a chance of searching for the convenient employer.
- VCA (Veterinary Centers of America)
- VCA Alaska Pet Care Animal Hospital
- VCA Bering Sea Animal Hospital
- VCA Eagle River Animal Hospital
- VCA Big Lake Animal Hospital
- Alaska Veterinary Clinic Alaska Veterinary Clinic
- North Pole Veterinary Hospital
Salaries for Vet Technicians in Alaska
In general, this is a job with a good prospect, giving the fact that, as we mentioned before, workers in animal healthcare will be needed more and more in the years to come and their employment will grow exponentially.
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If you’re thinking of becoming a vet technician in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter), remember that your best investment in your future decisions is your time spent researching resources, forums and other valuable information about this profession.
The other thing to bear in mind is that you should always plan your education and make your schedule in a way that best suits you and your needs – it is the only way to spend the years of studying a little less challenging.
Do not be afraid to ask for information – whether via telephone, emails, social networks and otherwise.
And remember, once you do become a vet technician, you’ll become a part of a very noble and humane profession: enough to feel fulfilled after every working day.