How to Become a Veterinary Technician in Illinois

happiness with animals

If you enjoy being around animals, then a career as a vet technician is ideal for you.

Not to mention how young people have been slowly coveting this illustrious career.

Of course, you need to possess qualities to do this job well.

One of them is excellent communication skills to connect and understand the people you work with.

Another is physical stamina since you’ll mostly be on your feet and restrain animals.

What’s more, the downsides to the job are incomparable to its upsides.

So let’s take a look at what it really takes to become a vet technician in Illinois.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Illinois

A vet technician’s job can be likened to that of a hospital nurse.

Instead of people, you’ll help vets with everything they might need.

That’s why, expect a wide array of duties to perform in this line of work.

Some of the most common duties expected from you on a daily basis include the following:

  • Restraining animals during examinations
  • Monitoring the vitals
  • Taking X-rays
  • Applying medications, fluids, and blood products per the vet’s instructions
  • Addressing injuries and applying first aid
  • Assisting vets in surgeries

Aside from these, you’ll often have to work in a lab as well as perform unpleasant tasks like euthanasia.

How to Become One

Your path toward the vet technician career starts with a two-year associate’s degree in veterinary technology.

Keep in mind that you must enroll in a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (AVMA CVTEA).

In Illinois, only the University of Illinois has been granted accreditation so far.

If you don’t have the time to study in a classroom, you may also study through online courses.

After completion, you’ll be eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).

Passing it enables you to work at any vet facility as a licensed vet technician.

Education Required for a Vet Technician in Illinois

online courses for vet technicians

Each school has its own admission requirements and prerequisites.

But usually, the minimum requirement is to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

Other requirements may or may not include:

  • Working experience in a vet clinic
  • Placement or evaluation tests (COMPASS, ACT, or SAT)
  • Taking the Health Occupation Aptitude Examination

In some cases, schools may need you to have certain immunizations, including TB and rabies.

As for the course prerequisites, they are usually the following subjects:

  • Biology
  • Math
  • English
  • Speech and communication
  • Humanities
  • Psychology
  • Computer skills

Once you start classes in the program, you’ll be expected to learn the following:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Terminology
  • Clinical skills
  • Laboratory skills
  • Radiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Parasitology
  • Clinical skills

During your final semester, you’ll have an internship at a local vet clinic.

There you’ll work under the guidance of a professional vet and learn the ins and outs of the job.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition in Illinois is set through a “district” system.

The tuition per credit hour for in-district students may range from $100 to $115.

Meanwhile, for out-of-district students, it ranges between $269 and $312.

Out-of-state students pay slightly higher than that.

Overall, the tuition for the entire program ranges from $13,000 to $34,000.

Of course, you can always apply for traditional financial aid benefits for students.

It can be through grants, scholarships, loans, or veterans benefits.

One of the most common financial aid you can apply for is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

You’ll find more information about tuition and financial aid on the school’s website.

If you’re a working individual, Illinois has a “workforce development” system that educates and prepares students for their careers.

You can also find more ways to finance your education on their website.

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Licensing and Certification

Graduating from an AVMA CVTEA accredited program makes you eligible for the VTNE.

If you didn’t study under an accredited program, you can’t take this licensure exam.

The exam, which costs $300, takes three hours to complete with over 150 questions.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation oversees the licensure exam.

Once you’ve attained your license, you must renew it to retain your designation.

To do so, you have to complete 15 hours of continuing education every two years.

Getting a Job in Illinois

vet technician's job in illinois

You’ve graduated and got your license.

Now, it’s time to find an appropriate job.

Fortunately, Illinois offers a number of vet clinics and animal hospitals looking for vet technicians.

Keep in mind that it can’t be predicted who will get hired and who has the upper hand.

So you must impress your potential employer with your qualifications.

Below, we’ve gathered a list of vet facilities you can apply to:

  • Veterinary Centers of America – Illinois Branches
    • Chicago North Animal Hospital
    • County West Animal Hospital
    • Hawthorn Animal Hospital
    • Franklin Park Animal Hospital
  • Banfield Pet Hospital located in:
    • Champaign
    • Springfield
    • Oswego
  • Vetco Wellness Centers and Vaccination Clinics located in:
    • Chicago Petco
    • New Lenox Petco
    • Springfield Petco
    • Pekin Petco

Salaries for Vet Technicians in Illinois

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the employment level will rise by 15% by 2030.

This means the industry is growing and in demand by pet owners willing to spend money on vet care.

In other words, this growth can mean a higher paycheck to vet technicians.

Here are the current average salaries in Illinois.

Location Avg. Annual Salary
Arlington Heights,IL $30,768
Aurora,IL $31,296
Bloomington,IL $28,320
Bolingbrook,IL $30,777
Champaign,IL $27,851
Chicago,IL $31,582
Cicero,IL $31,582
Decatur,IL $27,395
Des Plaines,IL $31,499
Elgin,IL $31,118
Evanston,IL $31,570
Hoffman Estates,IL $31,297
Joliet,IL $30,634
Moline,IL $27,372
Mount Prospect,IL $31,475
Naperville,IL $30,908
Normal,IL $28,454
Oak Lawn,IL $31,546
Oak Park,IL $31,582
Orland Park,IL $30,498
Palatine,IL $30,822
Peoria,IL $28,729
Rock Island,IL $27,395
Rockford,IL $29,771
Schaumburg,IL $31,233
Skokie,IL $31,570
Springfield,IL $27,365
Tinley Park,IL $30,415
Waukegan,IL $29,691
Wheaton,IL $30,978

Regional Salary in Illinois

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Champaign-Urbana, IL210$45,080$21.68$55,000$31,560
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI3,430$43,990$21.15$59,610$29,890
Peoria, IL110$36,140$17.37$46,230$27,730
Rockford, IL70$36,510$17.55$46,970$27,950
Springfield, IL40$38,220$18.38$47,850$30,340
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, OCC Code 29-2056, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Final Words

After reading this, you might realize how complicated the steps are in becoming a professional vet technician.

But you shouldn’t feel discouraged.

You entered this profession because you want to help treat animals, and this is something you should always remember.

So with hard work and dedication, you can attain job fulfillment and satisfaction.

The reward that comes with them is immeasurable.

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