How to Become a Veterinary Technician in Washington

As a veterinary technician you get to relieve the stress that pet owners go through when their pet gets sick or is injured, and this is an extremely important role to play, while being just one tiny part of your job!

Those that haven’t had pets might think of it as an exaggeration, but it’s literally like having a part of your family sick.

Fortunately, animal lovers are a growing part of our population and their pets are worshipped and protected, while they rely on the veterinarians and their personnel to help their pets.

Due to this increasing number of pet owners, the veterinarians are in constant demand, as are other workers in veterinary profession.

If you’re interesting in finding your place under the veterinary vocation’s sun, take a look at what it entails.

Job Description and Duties of a Vet Technician in Washington

Even though many think of them as unburdening and easy, daily requirements of vet technicians, are actually quite challenging and, at the end of the day, exhausting.

The job description of veterinary technician is pretty similar to the one a nurse in a human hospital has.

So if you become one, your job will be to work with animals as well as people, and take care of a wide array of issues: from technical things like keeping records and admitting animals into the unit, to assisting the vet during animal treatments.

You’ll also have some unpleasant duties like cleaning after animals, and the most dreadful one, assisting in euthanasia.

There is also a number of duties that will be expected of you without the supervision of a professional veterinarian, but you’ll also be in a position to assist during surgeries.

So, let’s sum up and take a look at just some of the responsibilities you’ll have as a vet technician:

  • recording an animal’s medical history
  • assisting with surgeries and other medical procedures
  • collecting blood, urine or stool sample
  • preparing animals and equipment for surgery
  • processing laboratory tests
  • providing treatment for routine problems
  • assisting the veterinarian with physical exams
  • performing anesthesia
  • administration of medications
  • recording temperature, pulse and respiration
  • dressing wounds
  • euthanizations when necessary
  • caring for companion animals
  • conducting research

How to Become One?

To make your dreams of becoming a vet technicians come true, the first step you’ll need to make is get an Associates of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology.

For Washington, this means being admitted one of the four accredited 2-year programs for veterinary technicians in this state.

After that, you’ll need to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) , which is an exam administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

Also, after you graduate you’ll have to pass the Washington State Examination for Veterinary Technicians.

Once you do this – you’ll be able to call yourself a licensed veterinary technician and work as one in Washington.

Education Required for a Vet Technician in Washington

There are four Veterinary Technician Schools in Washington accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and you should consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to think about distance education since you have schools in your own state!

The schools that offer accredited programs for vet technicians usually require you to have a high school diploma, GED, or the equivalent.

You may also be required to take some courses that you maybe didn’t have in high school, but that are necessary before you enroll.

These general education courses are basic math, composition, speech, or psychology. It usually takes students around two semesters to complete this.

Your courses will be some of the following:

  • dentistry
  • pharmacology
  • anesthesiology
  • exotic and lab animal procedures
  • clinical procedures
  • surgical nursing

You’ll also have hands-on experience in labs where you’ll put your theoretic knowledge in practice, and this is known as an internship.

Your final semester will actually be an internship at a local clinic where you’ll work supervised by a professional veterinary and learn what it’s like to be a veterinary technician on a day to day basis.

What’s more, you can also specialize in other areas, if you don’t want to work in a veterinary clinic once you graduate.

Here are some of them:

  • Animal Nutrition
  • Clinical Practice
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Equine Medicine
  • Dental Technician
  • Emergency and Critical Care nursing
  • Anesthetist
  • Internal Medicine
  • Behavior Modification
  • Zoological and Exotic Animal Medicine

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition for the accredited vet technology programs in America are usually affordable and you can finish the entire two year program for a tuition that costs between $20,000 and $35,000.

Add to that about $2,000 to $3,000 for books and lab supplies. Living and transportation expenses are not included in this estimate.

As for financial aid, visit the websites of each of the schools: most of the traditional college financial aids are available to students attending the vet tech programs.

You can start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website.

And, of course, don’t forget to visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs  for the types of aid included in the programs for dependents and family members of a veteran.

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Licensing and Certification

Sorry, but you’re still not done: even though you’ve graduated, there are more exams waiting for you.

To be precise, just one, but very important exam.

You’ll have to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) as this is the case in most states in America.

This is an exam regulated by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. And it’s no picnic, either: it lasts three hours, has 150 questions and costs $300.

Only those who graduated from an accredited program can take this test, so that’s why it’s important that your veterinary technology program is accredited.

After you graduate, you’ll also have to take the Washington State Examination for Veterinary Technicians.

Only once you’ve passed both these exams, can you get your certification.

If you want to keep your license current, the state of Washington requires you complete 30 hours of continuing education every 3 years.

Getting a Job in Washington

Once you’re ready to find a job, you can start right away and sure enough you’ll find one very quickly, as there are always available jobs for workers in animal healthcare.

Your only decision at this point should be whether you want to work in a large animal hospital or a smaller animal clinic.

Whatever you decide, this list of potential employers in Washington will help you:

  • WSAVT (Washington State Association of Veterinary Technicians)
  •  VCA (Veterinary Centers of America)
    • VCA Magnolia Animal Hospital
    • VCA Pacific Avenue Animal Hospital
    • VCA Five Corners Animal Hospital
  • Vetco Wellness Centers and Vaccination Clinics inside PETCO
    • Located in Seattle Petco
    • Located in Redmond Petco
    • Located in Spokane Petco
    • Located in Olympia Petco
  • Banfield Pet Hospital
    •  Banfield Headquarters Seattle
    •  Banfield Headquarters Vancouver
    • Banfield Headquarters Spokane

Salaries for Vet Technicians in Washington

Here are some good news for all vet tech hopefuls, not only in Washington, but in  America, in general: there will be plenty of job opportunities for you in the future!

We already mentioned there are more and more pet owners every year, so being a vet technician means having a job with a good perspective.

But, have we mentioned that, statistically, their employment will increase in the years to come? Namely,  the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show their employments is expected to grow by a whopping 30% per year through 2022.

Here are the average salaries for a vet technician in Washington:

LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Federal Way,WA$31,608

Final Words

The job of a vet technician comes with serious responsibilities and challenges that you can learn to manage through experience and years of hard work, but you should definitely do your research beforehand and make sure that this is the career you want.

You should also always work on communication with other people, because it may come in handy later in your professional career.

Talking to pet owners, offering them hope and understanding them is a very important skill for workers in animal healthcare.

Finally, if through all these steps you’re still sure this is the path you want – you will certainly be an excellent veterinary technician.

USA How to Become a Vet Tech by State