Low pay and competition from unlicensed assistants were the two primary concerns cited by techs in NAVTAs 2007 survey (click to enlarge).
Every profession has its pros and cons, and the field of veterinary technology is no different. It’s helpful to be aware of some of the cons of being a vet tech, this way you can prepare yourself and know what to expect. Don’t focus on only the negative side of things though! Too many people give too much weight to the negative aspects of the career and ignore the positive ones. Try not to let yourself fall into this trap!
In 2007, NAVTA conducted a survey that asked a group of licensed veterinary technicians a variety of questions about their careers. One of the more interesting questions was about the primary concerns these vet techs had. Take a look at the top two issues that these techs cited:
As you can see, the two top concerns of vet techs who responded to this survey were low salaries and competition from unlicensed veterinary assistants.
78% of veterinary techs believed that “technicians are so underpaid that the feasibility of staying in the profession is declining.” 18% on the other hand, disagreed with this assessment.
It’s no secret that you won’t strike it rich on a standard vet tech income. But how bad is it really? When more than 3 quarters of respondents believe that low salaries may force them out of the profession, that’s something definitely worth paying attention to. Before you decide to become a vet tech, it’s important to think about how much money you’ll need to live a comfortable life. Low salary is also something to consider when thinking about student loans.
The other concern shared by most vet techs was that unlicensed veterinary assistants were infringing upon their job duties. This issue is actually closely related to the issue of low salary. If veterinarians are allowing unlicensed assistants to perform tasks like radiography, anesthesia, and dental work, the value of licensed veterinary technicians declines.
A vet can get away with paying an assistant much less money, so some go that route and train unlicensed assistants on the job. In turn, vet techs get paid less because employers don’t see their certification and academic training as something that’s absolutely necessary.
So what do these survey results this mean for prospective vet techs? First of all, keep in mind that this data is years old. NAVTA is scheduled to release a new survey next soon, so until then, we won’t know if the situation has gotten better or worse. What I can tell you is that demand for licensed veterinary technicians is certainly on the rise. In fact, many states are passing legislation that require veterinary technicians to become certified, so the value of graduating from a vet tech program is increasing.
The amount of people out there who are willing to pay for quality care for their animals has also increased. This means vets are more willing than ever to hire qualified techs who can deliver the quality service that customers want.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Don’t let these concerns scare you too much. While they are certainly important issues, there are plenty of veterinary technicians out there who are living comfortably without financial stress or worries. Remember, this is a relatively new profession in the grand scheme of things. As the field of veterinary technology continues to evolve and mature, I expect these concerns to diminish. For more insight on this topic, keep your eyes open for the next NAVTA survey, or ask the vet techs at your local vet clinic how they feel about these issues.