How Do I Become a Vet Tech in Pennsylvania? Everything You Should Know Before You Begin! | Institute of Medical and Business Careers

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How Do I Become a Vet Tech in Pennsylvania? Everything You Should Know Before You Begin!

Vet tech trimming a cat's claws
Veterinarian trimming a cat’s claws

You live in the state of Pennsylvania and it is time to get ready for work. You eat a good breakfast, shower, and get dressed. But you don’t wear a suit or a uniform for your job. You wear a lab coat and maybe some scrubs.

That’s because you work as a veterinary technician (or vet tech for short) making a difference in the lives of animals and their caregivers.

This could be your reality! Why not consider a career as a vet tech?

Vet techs work with animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, typically at a vet clinic. In 2018 the median salary of vet techs was $34,420 among all those employed. 

In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about becoming a vet tech in Pennsylvania so you can do what you love: make a difference in animals’ lives.

What Does a Vet Tech Do?

Veterinary technologists and technicians perform a range of tasks with animals under the guidance of a veterinarian. Here is a list of the roles and responsibilities of a vet tech.

  • Observe and monitor animal behavior
  • Record vital signs and document symptoms
  • Provide first aid and emergency care to injured pets
  • Groom pets, including bathing, brushing, cutting hair, and clipping nails
  • Comfort and securely hold animals in place during exams and procedures
  • Administer anesthesia to animals 
  • Perform lab tests and take blood
  • Administer medications and vaccines a veterinarian prescribes
  • Prep animals for surgery and sterilize instruments
  • Weigh animals and collect and record important animal data 
  • Speak with caregivers about treatment and care of their pets

In addition to helping veterinarians during animal exams, vet techs talk to pet owners about their pet’s medical condition. They also explain how owners should administer medicines that the veterinarian prescribes, and how to prepare foods.

Vet tech examining a cat's ears
Vet tech examining a cat’s ears

Vet Techs Also Work in Research-Focused Careers

Aside from working in veterinary clinics, vet techs may work in the field of research. They may assist veterinarians and scientists on research projects, including biomedical research. An important aspect of the position is to make sure animals are treated humanely. Vet techs are also needed at zoological institutions and even on military bases and ranches.

Pennsylvania vet techs may work as generalists or specialize in a discipline such as emergency and critical care, anesthesia, dentistry, clinical pathology, nutrition, internal medicine, animal behavior, surgery, or zoological medicine.

As you can see, the options for vet techs are diverse. To add, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the employment of vet techs (and vet technologists) will rise 19 percent from 2018 to 2028 as indicated in the Occupational Handbook.

Admission Requirements to a Vet Tech Program

Every vet tech program in the state of Pennsylvania has its own academic requirements and application process. All schools require a high school diploma or a G.E.D. certificate. Some schools require the ACT and SAT placement tests and observational clinical hours. 

If you do not have the required science courses, you may need to take them before you can take the core classes in the program. However, some schools include them at the beginning of the program, including our school, the Insitute of Medical and Business Careers.

Check with the admissions office for course requirements and the minimum GPA the school accepts, and other admission requirements. If you were enlisted in the military, you may qualify for special benefits.

By calling or emailing the admissions office, you can learn the admissions and application requirements. They will inform you about what you need to know.

Vet tech examining a dog's teeth
Vet tech examining a dog’s teeth

Choose a School With a Program That is Accredited by the AVMA

A top aspect of selecting a school is to make sure that it is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The reason: in order to be eligible for a vet tech license in Pennsylvania, you must have attended an accredited AMVA program.

Coursework: What You Will Study in a Vet Tech Program

Vet tech program curriculums focus on science courses. As an example, the required courses at the vet tech program at the Institute of Medical and Business Careers (IMBC) in Pennsylvania require students to complete these 18 courses over the duration of the program:

  • Introduction to Veterinary Technology
  • Veterinary Medical Terminology
  • Parasitology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Anatomy and Physiology I
  • Laboratory and Clinical Skills for Veterinary Technicians
  • Companion Animal Nutrition
  • Surgical Nursing for Veterinary Technicians
  • Companion Animal Imaging
  • Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Companion Animal Diseases
  • Emergency and Critical Care for Veterinary Technicians
  • Exotic Animal Management and Nutrition
  • Large Animal Procedures
  • Veterinary Technician National Exam Review
  • Veterinary Technician Externship

The general education requirements needed for the program include algebra, English, microbiology, chemistry, and professional development. The program lasts for about one-and-a-half years.

However, the time spent in the program depends on the particular circumstances. Examples include the student’s schedule and academic performance.

Vet tech with dog on exam table
Vet tech with dog on exam table

What Happens After Graduation?

Toward the end of the program, you will enroll in an externship. Externships provide students opportunities to work with animals in veterinary hospitals, animal rescue centers, and other veterinary environments, under the supervision of professionals.

Often, the place where you perform your externship may hire you when you obtain licensure. When you are finished with your program you will be ready to apply for your license as a veterinary technician with the Department of State in Pennsylvania.

Vet tech with a dog
Vet tech with a dog

The Takeaway on How to Become a Vet Tech in PA

Now you know everything there is to know about becoming a vet tech in the state of Pennsylvania. You know about school programs, the profession, and what it takes to begin working as a vet tech doing a job you love.

Looking for a great school with an AVMA accredited vet tech program in PA? Contact us today and get started on a new career as a veterinary technician!