At first wag of the tail, a kennel tech and a vet tech may sound like the same job. And in some respects they are similar. Both care for animals, with one position focusing on the animals’ comfort and cleanliness and the other on the animals’ medical needs. These techs may work together in the same facility.
A Jack of Animal Trades
A kennel tech provides basic care for animals that are being groomed or boarded and maintains the kennel or facility. The types of animals you care for may range from pets to other nonfarm animals -- think guinea pigs -- to laboratory animals, and the settings may be as varied as kennels, veterinary offices, zoos, pet stores, animal shelters or aquariums. The list of duties is long: feeding, watering, exercising, observing the animals for signs of discomfort and ensuring proper identification of the animals. In addition, you will also be cleaning cages and food bowls, disinfecting or sterilizing equipment and performing general maintenance throughout the facility.
A Vet's Right-Hand Man
A vet tech works as an assistant to a veterinarian and is part of the veterinary medical team. You will need an associate degree from an accredited training program. Some states require that vet techs take a credentialing exam and become registered, licensed or certified. Depending upon the size and type of the veterinarian’s practice, you may find yourself responsible for monitoring symptoms, assisting in surgery, collecting laboratory specimens or administering vaccinations. Like a kennel tech, you may find yourself working with a variety of animals in a variety of facilities. Good communication skills will help you in interacting with co-workers, pet owners and vendors.
Love of Animals Key
There are several other jobs related to both of these positions, such as animal service workers, technologists and technicians at medical laboratories. Jobs working on farms and in agriculture generally are also a good fit for kennel techs. Without formal education and credentialing, kennel techs will experience fewer opportunities for growth, while vet techs can expand their career opportunities by specializing as radiology or surgical technologists, for example. Obviously, both types of techs should enjoy being around animals, but should also be prepared to face the downside of treating ill or injured animals.
Job Prospects Are Bullish
Future prospects for both these jobs appear to be excellent. In 2010, the latest year for which figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are available, the median annual salary for kennel techs was $19,000 and for veterinary techs it was $30,000. Job growth for kennel workers is projected to be 23 percent through 2020, and for veterinary techs the job growth projection is 52 percent through 2020. For workers who do not have an associate degree and yet enjoy being around animals, a kennel tech position might be ideal. And it could be useful in helping you decide whether to make the investment to become a veterinarian tech.
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