Veterinary medicine is field of medicine that is growing exponentially and will continue to do so in the years to come, so if you want to become a veterinary technician, your timing could not be better.
It is the best carreer for anybody who is passionate about animal welfare and focused on helping the animals in need.
If you have an accompanying natural sense of empathy too – well, that can only be a plus!
But this job, like any other, also has some challenges that are not easy to overcome without experience.
For example, you have to possess certain physical and mental features (though the physical ones are just something you develop and get used to over the years) in order to perform this job like a pro.
Standing on your feet for a large portion of the day, communicating with people and giving animals a part of your heart even on your worst days is in your job description here.
And now, let’s take a look at what you’ll need to become a vet technician in Montana.
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Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Montana
Veterinary technician are the closest and most important helpers of veterinarians – just like nurses are to doctors.
All the normal everyday duties of a vet technicians, including feeding animals, hydrating them and examining them with a goal to discover any symptoms of illness or disease are just the tip of the ice berg for these hard workers.
They also have to clean up after the animals, disinfect their cages, all of the equipment, communicate with pet owners and take care of administrative business.
More specifically, take a look at all the general duties of a vet technician in Montana (or elsewhere, for that matter):
- record keeping
- restraining animals
- taking x-rays
- taking their blood pressure or their body temperature
- performing all kinds of analyses of the animal’s bodily fluids and discharge
- physical examinations that lead to further diagnostics of the disease or ilness
- inducing and maintaining anesthesia
- applying medications, fluids and blood products following the veterinarians’ instructions
- monitoring pulse and respiration
- adressing injuries and sometimes applying first aid
Don’t forget the most unpleasant task – adminitering euthanasia, and the most important one – assisting the vet during operations.
How to Become One?
If you want to work in a serious animal hospital, clinic or even start your own job and have a professional career, you need to gain signifcant education as a veterinary technician.
The first step you need to take, in this sense, is earn an Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology.
For Montana, which doesn’t have an in-state college with an accredited program for vet technicians, this means you’ll have to find other ways of attending a vet technology program with a full accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).
Once you graduate, you’ll have to take the VTNE exam (Veterinary Technician National Examination), which is required to become a Montana veterinary technician.
Education Required for a Vet Technician in Montana
As we’ve already meantioned, Montana doesn’t have any accredited veterinary technician programs, and you’ll have to get your degree otherwise. Here are your options.
1. The first and easiest way to attend an accredited veterinary technician program is to attend a school in a state that belongs to WICHE.
WICHE is short for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and Montana is its member. WICHE 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.
2. Your other option are the so-called “distance education” (DE) programs, which means that the major part of your classwork 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.
3. Finally, your 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, make sure it is the road that works best for you, because it’s going to be a long ride and you don’t want to give up along the way, just because it’s a little rough.
You can expect to earn your Associate’s degree in three years or even less.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition is a bit hard to determine in Montana, because of all the different ways you can complete your education.
For instance, there are so many programs that fall under WICHE with different tuitions that it’s impossible to cite them all.
Bearing in mind the 150% tuition rate for Montana residents under the WUE program, you can estimate your entire tuition cost to be around $30,000, excluding additional fees, books, or living or travel expenses.
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).
You can also get informed about the veterans benefits, by visiting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website which offers all needed information about the types of available aid for dependents and family members of veterans.
Popular Degree Programs
Licensing and Certification
As for the specific licenses for vet technicians in Montana, there is the already mentioned (and extremely important!) Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) which is an exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
The VTNE exam is important because it’s the best indicator of your knowledge and experience as a veterinary technician. That’s why it isn’t easy, lasting over three hours and counting more than 150 questions.
You can only take the VTNE exam if you’ve graduated from an accredited program, so that’s why it’s important to choose only between accredited programs, like we’ve stated before.
Only when you pass the VTNE, can you work as a licensed vet technician in Montana.
Getting a Job in Montana
This step will probably be the most satisfying one for a veterinary technician starting his or her carreer: namely when veterinary technicians are concerned, finding a job is not at all difficult.
There are numerous clinics and hospitals that are looking for vet technicians who know what they’re doing, so it is not too hard to start working your desired field.
Here are some potential employers in Montana:
- MTVMA (Montana Veterinary Medical Association)
- Montana Veterinary Facilities
- Banfield Pet Hospital
Salaries for Vet Technicians in Montana
In general, a job of a veterinary technician 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.
Here are the salaries of vet technicians across Montana:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
It is important not to get discouraged by the fact that most people only perceive the less important duties of a veterinary technician like administrative work, answering phone calls and communicating with the patient and their owner.
It is also important not to get discouraged by all the different (and complicated ways) to complete your education in Montana.
You should always plan your education and make your schedule in a way that best suits you and your needs.
However, once you become a veterinary technician and start working as one, you’ll see that their satisfaction is not only in their paycheck, but in the fact that they have helped somebody who needed them.