Job outlook for veterinary nurses, also known as veterinary technologists or technicians, is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for veterinary nurses and technologists is expected to grow by more than 38 percent through 2018 -- much faster than the average for all occupations.
Factors expected to contribute to this growth include: more people seeking veterinary services for their pets, increased specialization in the field, and the trend to replace veterinary assistants with these more highly skilled professionals.
Veterinary nurses and technicians provide clinical services in private practices and animal hospitals under supervision of a licensed veterinarian. These professionals may also work at universities, hospitals and research facilities under supervision of veterinarians or physicians. Veterinary nurses and technologists perform medical tests and treat medical conditions in animals. They may conduct blood tests, take tissue samples, develop X-rays, assist in dental care, prepare vaccines for the prevention of diseases and provide a range of other nursing-related services in the care of animals.
Starting salary range: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, starting salaries for veterinary nurses and technicians range from $7.55/hour (Georgia) to $11.84/hour (Rhode Island).
Average salary: Annual salary for veterinary nurses and technicians who have less than one year of experience ranges from $20,356 to $30,677. For professionals with one to four years of experience, the range increases slightly from $21,823 to $33,254. Salary for veterinary nurses and technologists with 10 or more years of experience can reach as high as $44,002 annually.
Opportunities for advancement: By continuing their education, veterinary nurses, technologists and technicians may prepare themselves for advancement. Professionals may also choose to specialize as a Veterinary Dental Technicians, Veterinary Technician Anesthetists, Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians, or in other areas in order to advance their careers. Seeking employment in larger veterinary practices and advancing to related positions, such as practice manager, also provide opportunities for advancement.
Benefits and perks: Health care, paid time off, retirement, disability, and other benefits may increase the average compensation package by 34.4 percent to $40,861.
Salary negotiation techniques: Documented skill and expertise, sound academic credentials, solid internship experience and detailed letters of reference that speak to your quality as a professional may all help with salary negotiation. But, make sure your expectations are realistic. Small to mid-size veterinary practices are unlikely to have the discretion to offer salaries higher than their original offer. And while universities and research facilities may have more resources, these organizations typically operate under fairly strict parameters when it comes to setting salary ranges for new hires. Your best strategy is to apply and interview aggressively. Make yourself a desirable candidate to multiple practices or institutions and let each know you are in demand. In the long term, continue to invest in your education. Seek continuing education opportunities and complete specialty certifications. Make your current and future employers aware of your advancement along the way.
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