TJC veterinary technician program offers careers in animal care

With Tyler Junior College’s new veterinary technician program, students can turn their love of creatures – great and small – into a career.

TJC’s vet tech program opened in the fall 2016 semester, with an inaugural class of 12 students.

“It’s an intensive, two-year program,” said Dr. Louisa Schmid, veterinarian and program director. “There are 60 hours of classroom and clinical work; and upon graduation, students are eligible to take the national exam to become licensed veterinary technicians, or LVTs.”

Veterinary technicians work in a variety of animal-related fields, from small animal clinics to emergency centers, zoos and large farms.

With TJC’s two-year Associate of Applied Science degree, a licensed veterinary technician can assist the veterinarian in almost all aspects of animal care in every veterinary occupational field, from companion animal medicine to agricultural production industries to public health work to zoo animal management to biomedical research.

Typical veterinary technician activities can include:

• initial assessment of the animal
• acquiring samples for testing in the laboratory
• preparing the animal for anesthesia
• assisting in anesthetic procedures and monitoring
• participation in imaging studies such as radiology or ultrasound
• data entry into practice management/medical records software and record-keeping as required by regulatory agencies
• client education

Schmid said, “Beginning with the first semester, students are out in the field, taking off-site visits to animal shelters, clinics and other facilities, where they receive hands-on training.”

Schmid said another important component in being a vet tech is the human factor.

“This is also a people-oriented field,” she said. “There’s an old saying that animals don’t bring themselves to the vet when they’re sick, so part of the training involves learning how to educate the public on animal care.”

She said it is largely the vet techs who interact with pet owners and offer information on pet nutrition, how to administer medications and watch for side effects.

“Being a vet tech is rewarding on many levels,” she said. “It’s also great for people who don’t just love helping animals but also enjoy a varied, exciting career where you never know what you’ll be doing from one day to the next.”

New Lindale facility coming soon
The TJC vet tech program is currently housed on the college’s main campus in Tyler.

In March, it will move into its new home – a brand-new facility at TJC’s northernmost location in Lindale, where it will be part of The Cannery, a new residential/entertainment/retail complex.

In addition to classroom space, the new TJC facility will consist of a clinical laboratory, radiography equipment and surgical suite, all outfitted with the latest technology.

The Cannery also houses country artist Miranda Lambert’s Pink Pistol store and Tye Phelps’ restaurant and live music venue, Love & War in Texas.

Career opportunities
The demand for qualified veterinary technicians in Texas is high. Every existing program in Texas has a high rate of employment after graduation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently projects that this field will grow 52 percent by 2020. In Texas, salaries range from $25,000 to $45,000 per year. The 2010 median pay for a veterinarian technician in Texas was $29,710 annually, or $14.28 per hour.

Knowledge and skills
The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners provides the state specific exam and conducts a background check of all applications. 

After becoming a licensed veterinary technician by passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam and Texas state exam, certificates may be earned in a variety of specialty areas such as ultrasound or behavioral counseling. A four-year degree may be pursued to become a veterinary technologist.

For more information, go to www.tjc.edu/VetTech.

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