Career Focus: Veterinary Technology

Veterinary technology is a growing field that’s a good fit for people looking to work with animals or in a medical setting. The profession dates back to the 1940s, and today the field boasts a national organization (NAVTA), a robust accreditation process, and careers in specialties ranging from dental to emergency, internal medicine, and anesthesia. If you love animals and want to provide them with medical attention, a career as a vet tech might be for you.

The good parts of a vet tech JOB

  • If you work in a veterinary office (as over 90% of vet techs do), you’ll see your animal patients over the course of their lives, and you’ll get to help their owners be the best pet parents they can be. You’ll provide advice on nutrition, grooming, medication, behavior, and disease prevention.
  • If, instead, you work for a zoo or as a farm tech, you’ll work with larger animals (some of them exotic), many times out-of-doors, and your patients’ owners will have different priorities for the health and safety of their animals. You’ll provide many of the same services to your patients, though, including recording medical histories, monitor behavior, administer medications, and treat animals that are sick.
  • If you’d prefer a more clinical setting, a career in animal research or surgery might be a better fit. Even veterinary office techs assist the attending veterinarian in surgeries at the practice, but you can also be certified as an Emergency or Critical Care Technician to help animals suffering from severe trauma. You can also work in a research lab, developing new medications, testing the safety of pet food, or figuring out best practices for disaster preparedness.
  • No matter which specialty you choose, you’ll have the joy of working with animals every day. You will also enjoy the perks of being in a field with a high demand for certified professionals, including multiple job opportunities, rare lay-offs, and a fairly recession-proof career. Most candidates are considered qualified for an entry-level vet tech position after a two-year associate degree, and with the multiple certifications available, career (and pay) advancements are relatively easy to find.

The not-so-good parts of a vet tech job

  • Your earnings may vary widely.  The median salary is around $35,000, but there’s a wide range, dependent on how big the practice is, how rural your area is, and what kind of vet tech you are. If you’re working for a small practice, you’ll be making less than if you work in research, but you’ll need less education to begin working. Zoos and aquariums pay much less to start, since the entry-level positions are internships. However, the median pay for vet techs has been trending upward, and it’s expected to continue.
  • The job can be physically  demanding. Vet techs can work up to 12-hour shifts, and on weekends and evenings, too. Over the long workdays, techs can be expected to lift and wrangle pets weighing up to 100 pounds. Many animals are scared or hurting when they come to the vet, so they can be guarded or even aggressive. You will have to deal with all sorts of bodily fluids, some of which can make you sick.
  • There can be a heavy mental toll: Since most vet techs get into the field through a deep love of animals, seeing those animals hurt, struggle, and sometimes die can be very difficult. Some techs experience what’s called “compassion fatigue,” where caring about their patients wears them out.

All that being said, many veterinary technicians derive a deep satisfaction and sense of worth from their careers. Even though the work can be hard, it can be equally rewarding.

Becoming a veterinary technician

Generally, before getting a job as a vet tech you’ll need to have a degree from an accredited veterinary technology program, then become certified through a state board. In Louisiana, that board is the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine (LSBVM). There are currently four accredited schools in Louisiana that offer veterinary technology degrees:

There are also accredited online programs. You can find more information at the following websites, and around the web:

After you get your degree, you’ll need to be accredited. For information on accreditation, as well as continuing education and certification, visit the LSBVM’s website.

Further reading

Most of the information in this blog post has been taken from Careers in Veterinary Technology: Vet Tech, a publication by the Careers Internet Database. You can find more information about veterinary technology and other careers by visiting their website.

If a career with animals sounds like something you’d like to look further into, see our Cool Careers blog post about different options.

You can also check out the following links, provided by the Careers Internet Database:

Written by Case Duckworth

New Career Center Books

The Career Center has just received a set of books from the Masters at Work series by Simon and Schuster Publishing. This series of career exploration guides aims to help job-seekers understand their career options.

Synopsis: Each book in this series contains in-depth interviews with  experts in the field, including discussion of how the person achieved success, what the job is like on a daily basis, and pros and cons of working in that field. Described by the publishers as “the best virtual internship you’ll ever have,” these books hope to provide job-seekers with insight into whether the chosen field would be a good career fit for them.

Titles in this series include:

Becoming an Architect by Janelle Zara

Becoming a Baker by Glynnis MacNicol

Becoming an Ethical Hacker by Gary Mivlin

Becoming a Hairstylist by Kate Bolick

Becoming a Life Coach by Tom Chiarella

Becoming a Marine Biologist by Virginia Morell

Becoming a Neurosurgeon by John Colapinto

Becoming a Private Investigator by Howie Kahn

Becoming a Sommelier by Rosie Schaap 

Becoming a Venture Capitalist by Gary Mivlin

Becoming a Yoga Instructor 

You can place a hold on any of these books through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s online catalog. And for additional career path advice, please feel free to call the Career Center at 225-231-3733 to make an appointment for career coaching.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Career Pathways Program Returns!

Would you like to go back to school for more career skills training, but you just can’t afford it?

Three years ago, we wrote a blogpost about the Urban League’s Career Pathways Program, an innovative program that provided participants funding for college and vocational school. Today, we are pleased to announce the return of the Career Pathways Program!

Who’s doing it?

The Career Pathways Program is sponsored by the Office of Workforce Development, a department of the Urban League of Louisiana, which is the local chapter of the nonprofit National Urban League.

What help do they offer?

  • Tuition assistance towards an associate’s degree or vocational certification from Baton Rouge Community College or a local accredited vocational school.
  • Meetings with a personal case manager to help you determine your career path and monitor your progress during the schooling.
  • In-depth job skills training on subjects like resume writing and job interviews to help you find a job in your new field once you graduate.

What kinds of degrees do they help with?

The program is only available for degrees/certifications in high-demand industries, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Computer & Information Technology
  • NCCER Construction
  • Customer Service
  • Retail

How do I register and qualify?

The Baton Rouge office is currently accepting applicants. To register, you can:

  • Pre-apply online at www.urbanleaguela.org/strive
  • Call (225) 831-1501
  • Visit them at 445 N. 12th St. in downtown Baton Rouge.

To qualify, you will need to:

  • Provide the following documentation: a state-issued ID, your Social Security card, your birth certificate, proof of residence, and proof of income.
  • Take a TABE assessment, which Urban League will provide.
  • Agree to complete 4 weeks of career readiness skills training at the Urban League office.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Who’s Hiring During the Pandemic

This is a uniquely challenging time to search for a job. Concerns over COVID-19 have shuttered many businesses, and large numbers of people have been temporarily or permanently laid off. Given this uncertainty, most companies are slowing down hiring – but not all. Certain fields are growing quickly in response to consumer demand during the outbreak, including:

  • Hospitals and Medical Centers: Locally, this includes Our Lady of the Lake, Baton Rouge General, and Ochsner, all of whom are hiring both medical and non-medical staff.
  • Janitorial Companies: Janicare, Janiking, and Aramark are among those hiring locally.
  • Grocery Stores: This will include national chains like Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Albertson’s, plus local chains such as Rouse’s and Associated Grocers.
  • Pharmacies: Walgreens and CVS, as well as smaller local pharmacies, will need more employees.
  • Home Repair Stores: Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have been categorized as essential stores that will remain open throughout the crisis, and both are hiring.
  • Delivery Services: Amazon is having explosive growth due to online ordering. Food delivery services such as Waitr, UberEats, and GrubHub also need staff to keep up with demand. And grocery delivery services such as Shipt and Postmates are rapidly growing.
  • Transportation Services: For non-CDL drivers, check FedEx, UPS, and the Post Office. For CDL drivers, there are a variety of companies to choose from, so your best bet may be an aggregate job search website such as Indeed.

Additionally, you could use this time as an opportunity for some entrepreneurship. Think creatively about what services you could sell. Could you offer to provide lawn care, handyman services, housecleaning, cooking, or grocery pickup for your community? Could you babysit neighbors’ children while the parents are at work? Sign up as an online tutor? Craft items to sell on Etsy? Your skills and hobbies could help you fill in the cracks financially.

We wish you luck with your job search through this challenging time. As always, feel free to call the Career Center at 225-231-3733 for answers to your job search questions.

Written by Cynthia Payton and Lynnette Lee

Using Resume Templates When You Don’t Have MS Word

Most resume templates – including the Career Center’s – are in Microsoft Word format. This is no problem for Career Center patrons who come in to our department, as we have Microsoft Word on all of our computers. But many of our patrons do not have Microsoft Word on their home computers, because it is expensive software. So what can you do if you want to work on your resume at home and do not have Microsoft Word?

  • Option 1: If you have a Mac but do not have Office for Mac, you probably have Pages.
    See if the resume template you wish to use can be downloaded as a Rich Text Format (RTF). Pages can easily import and export files in RTF. If not, Pages can also import and export files in Word format, as explained here.
  • Option 2: You can use LibreOffice.
    This is a free downloadable application which is very similar to Microsoft Office. It can run on Windows *or* Mac *or* Linux. LibreOffice can read files in Word or Rich Text Format. Be aware that LibreWriter by default saves files in Open Document Text (ODT)format. You will need to manually tell it to save files in Word format.
  • Option 3: You can work on your resume in Google Docs format.
    You can use Google Docs to work on your resume in Windows or Mac or Linux. All you need is a web browser and a gmail account. You can open an MS Word file in Google Docs, or use one of the resume templates available directly through Google Docs.

If none of these options appeal to you, you are always welcome to use the computers at your local library to work on your resume. Or, of course, come visit us in the Career Center.

Written by Richard Wright