Education and Training: Associate’s degree
Average Salary: $28.90
Job Outlook: Very good
If you think of the different jobs that nurses do in doctor’s offices and hospital settings, you’ll have a very good idea of what a vet nurse does in a veterinarian’s office or animal hospital. The vet nurse is often responsible for the intake of new animal patients, which involves checking for obvious physical problems during a general examination and which may involve checking the animal’s heartbeat, breathing, and other signs of physical health. Vet nurses are responsible for passing along the information they find to the veterinarian, and they always work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Besides this, vet nurses in many places may be able to help place IVs, give medications, administer shots, and do other basic routine things. Besides this, they can be required to help in the surgical room, administer anesthesia, and take tests – such as x-rays, urine tests, and blood tests. In essence, a vet nurse can do many of the things veterinarians are trained to do, but they work under the supervision of a veterinarian. In many facilities, however, the vet nurse has more actual contact with the animal patients and with owners, and vet nurses may become the true face of the clinic or animal hospital.
Education and Training Requirements
A vet nurse can be trained as either a veterinary technician with a two-year degree or a veterinary technologist with a four-year degree. Either way, a degree should come from a college program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The main difference between technicians and technologists is that technologists have more training and may be able to gain higher pay because of their broader veterinary knowledge.
Those wanting to become vet nurses would do well to start taking science and math courses in high school, as these will play into the later classes necessary for learning about animal health and medicine. Many times, having hands-on experience with animals will also help with learning requirements, and it will look great on a resume for a potential veterinary nurse.
Getting the Job
Most often, vet nurses are hired at an entry level and are given on the job training with hands-on medical equipment and diagnostic tools. If you’re concerned about being able to find a job as a vet nurse, consider applying for an educational program that includes a job placement program upon graduation.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
Because there are not many vet nurse programs around the country right now, job prospects in this job are expected to be much better than average in the coming years. People want the best veterinary care for their pets, and they can get it at facilities that provide care through several vet nurses as well as veterinarians. For this reason, a degree in vet nursing may help you find a job immediately upon graduation.
Vet nurses do not become veterinarians unless they decide to go back to school for a vet’s license. However, they can often move from entry-level positions to administrative positions with more responsibility. This is especially true in highly structured veterinary hospitals. Many vet nurses also vie for coveted positions at aquariums and zoos, which are difficult to get unless nurses already have plenty of vet nursing experience.
Working Conditions and Environment
The job of a vet nurse can be fun, but it may also be somewhat dangerous, as even generally docile animals can become aggressive in a clinical setting. Nurses must learn about animal safety in order to minimize risks on the job. Typically, this is a forty hour a week job that takes place during the normal workday, although hours may vary for vet nurses who work at zoos and aquariums, at twenty-four-hour vet hospitals, or in laboratories.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary for a vet nurse is about $28,900 per year, but they can earn anywhere from $19,000 to $41,000 per year, depending of where they work. Those who work for research facilities typically make the most money in this group. Typically, these full time jobs come with benefits and paid time off.
Where to Go for More Information
To learn more about vet nurse jobs, check out the following resources:
American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
9190 Crestwyn Hills Dr.
Memphis, TN 38125
American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N Meacham Rd., Ste. 100
Shaumburg, IL 60173
National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
666 K St. NW, Ste. 260
Washington, DC 20006
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