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Equine Veterinary Technician

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Equine Veterinary Technician
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Equine veterinary technicians are trained to assist equine veterinarians with treatments and procedures.

Duties

Equine veterinary technicians assist equine veterinarians with routine health exams, procedures, and surgeries. They may be responsible for a variety of duties such as safely restraining horses during exams, jogging horses for lameness tests, administering medication, bandaging wounds, preparing surgical sites, running laboratory tests, taking and developing radiographs (x-rays), giving injections, taking blood, maintaining patient records, and coordinating appointment schedules.

Depending on the schedule of the veterinarian that they are working with, some equine veterinary technicians may be required to work nights, weekends, holidays, or extended hours. It is important for technicians to take proper safety precautions while working with horses so that they can minimize the risk of serious injury from kicks or bites.

Career Options

Most equine veterinary technicians work either in equine clinics or with equine vets that make farm visits to provide on-site care. Some equine vet techs also find positions with large commercial breeding farms, zoos, educational institutions, or research firms.

Equine veterinary technicians can use their experience to move into a related field such as equine pharmaceutical sales, equine equipment sales, or farm management roles. Others choose to move into positions as barn managers, riding instructors, or trainers.

Education & Licensing

There are over 160 accredited veterinary technician programs in the United States. These institutions provide training that allows a student to pursue a two year Associates degree in the field. Once they have completed their course of study, vet techs must also take an exam to be licensed for employment in their state. Most states require techs to pass the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam, though specific requirements may vary from one state to the next.

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes 10 specialties for veterinary technician specialist (VTS) certification, one of which is the equine veterinary nursing specialty certification. The equine specialty certification is administered by the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT). The AAEVT is a professional membership organization that also provides continuing education and networking opportunities for equine vet techs.

Veterinary technicians can also qualify for VTS specialty certification as surgical technicians or in other fields such as anesthesia, internal medicine, dentistry, emergency & critical care, behavior, zoo, clinical practice, or nutrition.

Most equine veterinary technicians also have significant practical experience working with horses in a “hands on” capacity, whether this experience was gained in the racing, breeding, or showing segment of the industry. There is no substitute for direct experience working with horses, as it gives the technician valuable insight into equine behavior.

Salary

Data on the specific earnings of equine veterinary technicians is difficult to obtain, as most salary surveys do not separate out equine technician earnings from the larger category of veterinary technician salaries. Salary may also vary widely within the equine veterinary technician field, as those with additional education, experience, or certifications tend to earn higher salaries than those who do not have these additional qualifications.

According to SimplyHired.com, equine veterinary technicians earned an average of $35,000 per year in March 2012. This is slightly higher than the $31,030 ($14.92 per hour) mean annual wage for all veterinary technicians reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in their most recent 2010 salary survey. The BLS survey also reported that the job category of veterinary technicians and technologists had a wide range of earnings, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $20,500 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $44,030.

Benefits for equine veterinary technicians vary but may include a combination of health insurance, dental insurance, paid vacation days, uniform allowances, or discounted veterinary services for their own horses.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were nearly 70,000 veterinary technicians employed during the 2010 survey, and approximately 3,800 new vet techs were projected to enter the profession each year thereafter. The BLS predicts that the profession will expand at a rapid rate of more than 36% from 2008 to 2018, making this career path a healthy one for the foreseeable future.

The BLS survey indicates that many job opportunities will be available for the relatively small number of new licensed vet techs that will graduate each year from accredited programs. While it is true that more positions exist for veterinary technicians in small animal clinics, job prospects should still be strong for equine veterinary technicians over the next decade as the equine industry shows signs of continued growth.

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