Veterinary Technician or RN?

  1. 1 I'm having trouble deciding between the two careers and I'm wondering if someone else was ever, or is, in the same spot. On one hand, I love animals and working with them (my first job was at a kennel and I LOVED it) and I imagine being a vet tech would be something I'd really enjoy. On the other, I like the idea of working as an RN also; I like the idea of all the different specialties and things you get to do as an RN, plus I like the idea of helping people and taking care of them. Although, I know as far as money goes RN is definitely where it's at; it's often hard to make decent money working as a vet tech. My school offers Associate's programs for both RN and vet tech, so...
  2. Enjoy this?

    Join thousands and get our weekly Nursing Insights newsletter with the hottest discussions, articles, and toons.


  3. Visit  SugarBabe99 profile page

    About SugarBabe99

    Joined Oct '11; Posts: 23; Likes: 5.

    53 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  tarheelsu profile page
    0
    Um, they are totally different, so it's really hard to compare.

    I don't think there is much available in terms of career advancement as a vet tech. I think of a vet tech being more comparable with a CNA rather than a RN.

    You should see if you can shadow someone in both jobs.
  5. Visit  SugarBabe99 profile page
    1
    Really? <shrug> I've always thought of a vet tech as being like an animal nurse, but your mileage may vary. I think vet assistant or kennel assistant is more comparable to CNA than a vet tech. Vet techs tend to perform a lot of skilled duties - X-rays, lab tests, administering medications, starting IVs, assisting during surgery and with anesthesia, etc. It is true that there isn't that much as far as career advancement goes, though.
    blaundee likes this.
  6. Visit  dirtyhippiegirl profile page
    1
    I kind of had the same dilemma, although it was vet school versus RN. I like animals and I like people.

    Vet tech is such a flexible job that it's hard to define. It extends from being a glorified kennel assistant to basically being a stand-in for the vet. (I've heard that in quite a few states, a four year vet tech degree allows you to do everything short of complicated surgery. More like a NP position than RN.)

    Also agree that you need to shadow both options before you decide. Ask around and get an idea of job openings, salary, and benefits. As a vet tech, you'd be working for smaller independent offices and thus less likely to have good pay and benefits. But a RN degree isn't the guarantee of a job like it was a few years ago. RN pay also varies depending on the area.

    On the other hand, it's my understanding that you don't need a degree to be employed as a vet tech. Many places will hire and train you. So while RN might make more money overall, you also might not be saddled with student loans if you go the vet tech route.
    TakeTwoAspirin likes this.
  7. Visit  mrmedical profile page
    6
    I've worked as a vet tech before I entered nursing school and it was one of the best jobs I've ever had and would probably would have stuck with it if the pay was better and their was more vertical advancement. Unfortuntantly many vet offices are hiring vet assistants (no hate, i used to be one too before) in place of techs just like MA's replacing RNs in the Drs office.

    Don't want to sound discouraging though, if you can get into a specialty clinic or pet emergency center you can make some big bucks. From what I've done as a RN student who is only 6 months away (yikes!) from taking the Boards, a vet tech is similar if not more advanced in skill set: like you said, blood draws are routine; jugular and peripheral, we intubate for dentals and surgery prep, serve as first assist in many sx cases, operate the anesthesia in other cases, compound medication, collect samples (stool, skin, aspirations, ect...), and read the common ones, take rads, ect...

    Skill for skills i would say the RVT does more applied and medicine work, but an RN has more room to advance; I'm young and need to build equity, that's why I changed careers.

    I will say though, I loved most days as a tech and the patients (cat or dog) are generally more affectionate and appreciative than their human counterparts.

    My 2c.
    blaundee, rmtocc, brandy1017, and 3 others like this.
  8. Visit  TakeTwoAspirin profile page
    1
    I have to say that I'm inclined to agree with you SugarBabe99 about the role of vet techs. Animal medical care, like human care, is becoming more and more technical and a good vet tech can be worth their weight in gold. As someone who has taken a fair amount of animals for emergency and trauma care you can certainly understand just how valuable their role is - they are not just poop scoopers. I have known nurses "give up" on human patients and go work at animal clinics. They assist with surgeries and do procedures on the animals, monitor vital signs etc. I think it would be valuable for you to look carefully into both roles. Although there are some parallels, they do have entirely different career paths. I believe there is formal education involved too for trauma/emergency animal techs although I can't point you in the right direction. I hope you pick the right path for you, and I wish you luck. Believe me, there are days when I wish I were dealing with animals instead of some of the people I have to care for!
    jahra likes this.
  9. Visit  klone profile page
    4
    I have to say that vet tech is my "won the lottery but want to work once a week so I don't get bored" dream job. It's what I'm encouraging my daughter to pursue when she graduates high school.
    TurtleCat, Esme12, jahra, and 1 other like this.
  10. Visit  Bruce_Wayne profile page
    0
    I know an RN that quit nursing to become a veterinarian. But the funny thing is that it was from people that know her hat I learned about people that can't afford albuterol buying and using the horse version of the medicine and using it for people since it was markedly less expensive.

    I've also heard of a few horse skin creams that people use for wound care.

    For my taste that's pretty shaky ethical ground and while I could see myself buying horse breathing treatments if I was poor and that was my only option, but I'd rather NOT be involved with anything like that if I don't have to be.
  11. Visit  SugarBabe99 profile page
    0
    Quote from klone
    I have to say that vet tech is my "won the lottery but want to work once a week so I don't get bored" dream job. It's what I'm encouraging my daughter to pursue when she graduates high school.
    Hehe. Yeah, that might be a good idea. I really think that being a veterinary technician is a wonderful job, really the only downsides are 1. It doesn't pay as much and 2. doesn't offer as many opportunities for advancement as being an RN does. I just hope that if I do go the veterinary technician route over RN, that I'll be able to make enough to support myself after my husband's gone. But I don't plan on having kids, so...
  12. Visit  dirtyhippiegirl profile page
    0
    Quote from Bruce_Wayne
    I know an RN that quit nursing to become a veterinarian. But the funny thing is that it was from people that know her hat I learned about people that can't afford albuterol buying and using the horse version of the medicine and using it for people since it was markedly less expensive.

    I've also heard of a few horse skin creams that people use for wound care.

    For my taste that's pretty shaky ethical ground and while I could see myself buying horse breathing treatments if I was poor and that was my only option, but I'd rather NOT be involved with anything like that if I don't have to be.

    Vet (DVM) school saddles you - no pun intended - with medical school debt but you come out making, if you're lucky, $80,000 a year. The main reason I chose not to go to vet school.
  13. Visit  Spacklehead profile page
    1
    I worked as a vet tech while completing my BSN - this was back in the mid-90's and it paid $8.00/hour. I LOVED that job!!! If it didn't pay squat I would do it again in a heartbeat! It also helped me with my RN education because a lot of the meds used are very similar. I never attended a formal vet tech program but was taught on the job. I was allowed to do blood draws and start IV's, I filled Rx's, performed heartworm/fecal tests, cleaned kennels, assisted the vet as needed, etc. SO much better than working as an RN/NP. As someone else mentioned, the patients typically complain much less and are much nicer!
    Cranberrygirl likes this.
  14. Visit  diva rn profile page
    0
    My daughter is now in her second year of Vet med at the University of Florida. She worked as a Vet tech for 3 years before vet school and it is manditory for entrance into many vet schools now. She loved working as a tech and still works the odd shift when she is home between semesters....but she has never made any more than $10.50 per hour...even now being in vet school....and this is at a very exclusive vet practice in South Florida.....there really is NO room for advancement either...with nursing there are hundreds of paths you can take...and the salaries could go into six figures.

    So, if you want to earn a salary you can live well on, go the nursing route...(I would also prefer to be a vet tech and hope my daughter will hire me when she starts practicing so I can give this nursing thing up!!!)...
    If you need to support yourself, I don't think you have much of a choice.
  15. Visit  PetERNurse profile page
    3
    I work as a veterinary technician in a state-of-the-art ICU. I manage patients who are on mechanical ventilators, require vasopressors, etc. The nice thing about being a veterinary technician is that your scope actually extends beyond that of RNs in some cases. I regularly place central lines for CVP measurement and sampling, art lines for DBP monitoring, interpret blood gases, adjust medication doses, anesthetize critically ill patients, etc. Not tooting my own horn or anything, but it requires a lot of skill and knowledge that many do not associate with "vet techs".
    There are many opportunities for advancement as a veterinary technician, including specialty certification. You can go to navta.com for more info.
    It is not uncommon for technicians at my facility to be making >$50k (not as much as an RN, but comfortable). This is of course with specialty certification and extensive experience. It is very demanding and very rewarding.
    I do contemplate obtaining my RN, but feel I am more challenged staying in the veterinary nursing field. Many of my coworkers are veterinary technicians gone RN gone back to veterinary technician for this exact reason.
    However I am sure being an RN is a very challenging and rewarding job as well! To each there own!
    Cranberrygirl, jahra, and Lennonninja like this.


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

Top