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...
    blaundee likes this.

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  2. 53 Comments...

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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...
  11. 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.


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