How to Become a Veterinary Technician in South Dakota

Anyone who has ever had a pet knows what it’s like to love an animal like a member of your family.

They can also recognize situations – related to health care of their animal, when they simply cannot give them the help or the care they need.

Taking into consideration that in the recent couple of years, the treatment of animals in general is changing, and that there are more and more pet owners each year, it’s no wonder that there are more and more facilities that can offer your pets the care and the help they need.

They are somewhat of a community of individuals who are passionate about the support of animals, and animal health facilities are always in need of new professionals who will offer veterinary care for your pets.

If this sounds interesting, and you’d like to prepare for a career of a vet technician, take a look at the particular steps you’re going to take to get there.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in South Dakota

Despite the public misconception, that is becoming all too common, a job description of a vet technician is pretty complicated and demanding.

Duties of a vet technician in South Dakota are not different than those of a vet technician anywhere else – not just in America, but the world.

They are all a part of a community that is seeking for the best medical care of all animals, not only pets.

Their daily tasks are providing basic care for pets and non-farm animals, feeding and bathing animals, disinfecting exam rooms, giving medications or vaccinations, ensuring that animals are well prepared for surgery and medical examination, cleaning and sanitizing animal cages and surgical tools during surgeries, and that’s just to name a few.

You might also need to work night shifts, if a veterinary clinic offers overnight accommodation of animals.

How to Become One?

Though you’re not legally obliged to get your education as a vet technician, your chances of getting a job without one are slim.

So the first step you need to take, in order to become a vet technician, is the step of earning an Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology.

For South Dakota, this means attending one of the two colleges in this state that offer 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 here, you can take the VTNE exam (Veterinary Technician National Examination), which is a very important exam for your further career, not just here, but in most states across America.

Once you pass the VTNE, you are eligible for a license in South Dakota.

Education Required for a Vet Technician in South Dakota

When it comes to prerequisites and requirements of the schools that offer accredited programs, what most of them agree upon is that you need to have a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent, as well as minimal scores on SATs or ACTs.

As for other requirements each school can have prerequisites that are anything from a background check to a rabies shot.

There are interviews, placement tests, your medical history, vaccinations etc – so you should really visit your school’s website to make sure.

Generally, a high school diploma, GED or the equivalent is required.

As for the actual courses once you’re in the program, there are some that you’ll have to have attended before the program actually starts, and they’re usually classes like English, basic math, biology, chemistry, and communication.

The courses will then progress into more science-based ones, like the following:

  • parasitology
  • radiology
  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • pathology
  • surgical nursing
  • large and small animal care
  • pharmacology
  • microbiology

Some of the classes go with hands-on lab work where you’ll put your theoretical knowledge into practice.

You won’t only have experience working with pets, but with other types of animals too, like dairy cattle, horses, chickens, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, turkeys, rodents, reptiles, birds and zoo or exhibition animals.

You’ll also have the opportunity to work with lab animals.

Your final semester will be an internship, during which you’ll work under a supervision of a professional vet.

Usually, veterinary technology programs last from two to three years, and take between 70 and 90 credit hours.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition varies widely depending on the college you’re planning on enrolling into, but if you proceed at the recommended pace, tuition and fees for most programs is under $25,000 for four to five semesters.

Add to that additional tuition fees like those for equipment, supplies, books and insurance. For more detailed information about tuition, you should visit each of the schools’ website.

Like everywhere else in America, you can apply for traditional financial aid available to all students of Idaho, if they meet the criteria.

You can apply to almost every financial aid program starting with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Don’t forget to visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs where you can learn more about the types of aid and what might be best for you, including programs for dependents and family members of veterans.

Popular Degree Programs

Licensing and Certification

If you’ve been reading the text closely, you know that after your studies, you will have to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

This is a very important exam, that you’re obliged to take in most American countries if you want to work as a licensed vet technician.

As for the VTNE exam (which you should definitely prepare yourself for: it takes three hours to complete it, has 150 questions and costs 300$), keep in mind that you won’t be eligible to take it without a degree from an accredited veterinary technology program.

This is why it’s important that you attend a program that’s accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

After you pass the VTNE exam, you will have to appear before the South Dakota Veterinary Medical Examining Board for an oral interview.

Only when you’re done with this interview, can you request for registering as a veterinary technician in South Dakota.

If you want to keep your license current, you need to complete a minimum of 12 credit hours in the 24 months before the submission on the renewal application.

Getting a Job in South Dakota

As we’ve mentioned in the introduction, there is such a large number of facilities in animal healthcare where you can apply for a job, that there really isn’t any reason to worry.

Veterinary technicians are generally very fast in finding employment, and this is due to the fact that there’s a growing number of veterinary clinics and hospitals because the importance of animal welfare is also growing exponentially.

Here are some of the facilities where you might find employment in South Dakota:

  • South Dakota Veterinary Medical Association
  • South Dakota Pet Hospitals
    • Mountain View Animal Hospital
    • Northern Hills Veterinary Clinic
    • All Animal Pet Hospital
    • Dunes Animal Hospital

Salaries for Vet Technicians in South Dakota

If you heard somewhere that the paychecks of veterinary technicians are not really high, you’re in for a surprise because even though salaries may not be skyrocketing these days for vet technicians, it probably won’t  be so in the future.

Here’s what the statistics say: namely, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show their employments is expected to grow by a whopping 30% per year through 2022.

Remember, however, that the number of working hours and the workload of a vet technician also affect their salary.

Here are the average salaries for a vet technician in South Dakota:

Location Avg. Annual Salary
Aberdeen,SD $24,163
Brookings,SD $25,539
Deadwood,SD $25,287
Pierre,SD $24,608
Rapid City,SD $25,732
Sioux Falls,SD $25,984
Watertown,SD $25,539

Final Words

Though this job and this noble goal seem like a dream job for those that love animals, remember that any job, this one as well, has its positive and negative sides.

As a vet tech you will have to endure a wide array of tasks, and stand long hours, and that’s just the physical side of the job.

There’s also an emotional side you have to have and show to the pet owners, and then there’s the emotional toll this job takes on you.

You should definitely be ready for that, though there are many parts of this job that you can learn only with practice and experience.

Be that as it may, if you’ve already decided to become a vet technician, you already know that no amount of challenging times can outweigh the rewarding ones in this profession.

USA How to Become a Veterinary Technician by State