Value of technicians


CE remains a sound investment-even in tight economic times.

The career of veterinary technician continues to grow in stature. Here's proof: Three more technician specialties (zoology, equine, and a neurology subspecialty) were announced in July, bringing the total number of options sanctioned by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America up to 12. A new law recently went into effect in Washington state allowing qualified technicians to administer controlled substances without direct supervision of a veterinarian, and other states are considering similar measures that give technicians more freedoms.

As technicians' credentials and roles expand, a few questions still loom in the background. Will you find jobs that truly allow you to perform the myriad duties you're qualified to do, and will you be compensated accordingly? The data featured here illustrate that gaps remain in both of these areas but, hopefully, the margins are closing.

Covering the cost of credentials

Some practice owners wrestle with the idea of springing for education that might spur an employee to seek a new job, says Marianne Mallonee, hospital administrator and part owner of Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo. Without help from the practice, the cost of attending a national convention or pursuing additional credentials—such as becoming a specialized technician or a certified practice manager—can be prohibitive. Case in point: Of technicians who carry student loans, 64 percent said they don't earn enough to live comfortably and pay their loans, according to the 2009 Firstline Team Trends Study. (See related data below.)

To create a win-win situation, Mallonee recommends proposing a business deal. Suggest that you'll reimburse the practice at a prorated amount for any CE allowance they give you if you leave the practice. For example, if you take a new job within a year of the education, you'll pay back 75 percent of the tuition costs. If you leave within two years, you'll reimburse the practice for 50 percent. Whatever percentages you decide, write a contract to preserve the details for future reference.

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