How to Become a Veterinary Technician in Illinois

If you enjoy being around animals, and you would like to work with them as well as people, then a career of vet technician is surely the right choice for you.

Not to mention the fact that this job is slowly becoming a coveted one, with an escalating number of pet owners each year.

There are some physical and mental features you should own in order to do this job like a champ: for example, you need to have excellent communication skills with people, as in many cases, they are the ones you’ll have to connect with.

The physical capabilities mostly entail being on your feet a whole lot of time and not being repulsed by the things you’ll have to clean after the animals!

These downsides to the job are incomparable to its upsides, though.

Take a look at what it really takes to become a veterinary technician.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Illinois

Job description of being a vet technician is the same as the one of a nurse in human healthcare.

This means, basically, that you are there to help the veterinary with everything from keeping records to assisting in surgery. So you can expect a wide array of duties for you to perform.

Some of the most common duties vet technicians are expected to perform on a daily baises include the following:

  • 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
  • adressing 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.

Of course, you’ll often have to work in a lab as well as perform the least pleasant tasks: cleaning after the animals and performing euthanasia.

How to Become One?

Your education of a vet technician lasts two to three years, and after you graduate you will earn an Associate’s degree in Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

In order to do that, you’ll have to attend a course accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.

For Illinois, this means attending one of the five colleges that have an accredited veterinary technology program.

After you graduate, you’ll be eligible to take the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination), after which you’ll be able to work as a licensed veterinary technician in Illinois.

Education Required for a Vet Technician in Illinois

Each school has its own admission program and its own prerequisites that students have to complete prior to adission. All of the schools, however, require a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent.

Some of them require some experience in a veterinary clinic, some that you undergo a placement or evaluation tests such as COMPASS, ACT or SAT and one requires a Health Occupation Aptitude Examination.

There are also health precautions you have to take for some of the schools, like certain immunizations, including TB and rabies.

As for the courses that you need to take prior to your admission, they are usually  English, communication, computer skills, math, biology, speech, psychology, or humanities.

Once you start your classes, they will be more science-based. You can expect courses like the following:

  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • terminology
  • clinical skills
  • laboratory skills
  • radiology
  • pharmacology
  • parasitology
  • clinical skills

Your final semester will actually be an internship at a local vet clinic, where you’ll work under the supervision of a professional veterinary and learn more about day-to-day obligations of a veterinary technician.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition in Illinois is set through a “district” system. Tuition per credit hour for in-district students may range from $100 to $115, while for out-of-district students it ranges between $269 to $312.

Out of state students pay slightly higher than that. Tuition for the entire program ranges from $13,000 to $34,000.

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

You can always apply to traditional financial aid benefits (like grants, scholarships, loans, veterans benefits) that are accessible to all college students across the country, starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Illinois has a legislative act called the Workforce Investment Act, which combines federal job programs with a “workforce development” system in order to educate and prepare students for their careers.

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

Apart from that, you should know that Illinois, when compared to other states, has more scholarships to offer to vet technology students. Again, you can find more info about that, on each school’s website.

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Licensing and Certification

Remember when we talked about how it’s important that you graduate from a program accredited by the the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities?

Well, here’s why: if the program you graduated from isn’t accredited, you can’t take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is an exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

And you need this one in order to work as a licensed vet technician in DC. It’s an exam that takes three hours to complete, has 150 questions and costs $300.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation  is in charge of the licensure.

You have to complete fifteen hours of continuing education every two years in order to keep your license current.

Getting a Job in Illinois

When you complete your veterinary technician education, you’ll probably want to start looking for a job immediately.

Fortunately, Illinois 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.

Salaries for Vet Technicians in Illinois

According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the employment of workers in animal healthcare is expected to grow by a whopping 30% per year through 2022, so your job prospects are bright!

Here are current average salaries of vet technicians in Illinois.

LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Arlington Heights,IL$30,768
Des Plaines,IL$31,499
Hoffman Estates,IL$31,297
Mount Prospect,IL$31,475
Oak Lawn,IL$31,546
Oak Park,IL$31,582
Orland Park,IL$30,498
Rock Island,IL$27,395
Tinley Park,IL$30,415

Final Words

After reading this and realizing that there are many steps to climb on the way to becoming a veterinary technician and that there are some downsides to this job, you might feel discouraged.

Don’t be, because through all the hard work, studying, exams and unpleasant duties, in the end you’ll feel more fulfilled than most do within their professions.

You’ve chosen a career that is solely based on helping others, and the reward that comes with the is immeasurable.

USA How to Become a Vet Tech by State