Veterinary technicians are required (in most states) to have a 2 year degree in veterinary technology from an AVMA accredited veterinary technology program, to have passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam and a state exam in order to be credentialed. They are also generally required to attend a set number of continuing education courses each year to keep up with changes in veterinary medicine. Veterinary technicians are educated in veterinary anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, animal husbandry, surgical assisting, anesthesia, medical nursing, diagnostics such as radiology and ultrasonography, clinical pathology, parasitology, medical terminology and record keeping, biological collection and sample handling and preperation, etc. They can also specialize in areas such as emergency and critical care, internal medicine, anesthesia, dentistry, behavior and equine nursing.
The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a list of accredited degree programs on their website: http://www.avma.org/education/cvea/vette…
In some states, the use of the title "veterinary technician" and the practice of veterinary technology is recognized as profession and licensure is required. In other states, veterinary technicians are registered or certified. The laws that govern veterinary technicians vary from state to state so for specific information on the laws a person should check their state veterinary practice act or contact their state veterinary licensing board.
Whether your state REQUIRES credentialing to work as a veterinary technician, the education is never "a waste of time". Consider that veterinary technicians make life and death decisions concerning the care of your (and other clients') pets every day. Don't you think that the people being paid to make those sorts of decisions and provide health care for your pet should actually KNOW about veterinary care and nursing?
The exact differences between what a veterinary assistant and a veterinary technician can do in your state, you would need to check the state veterinary practice act. This is because each state sets it's own laws governing the practice of veterinary medicine so what is legal in one state may not be in another.
The daily workload can vary greatly depending on the type of practice you work in and the area of the country you are in. Most often the workload will be variable in any practice--some days will be like a wild rollercoaster ride while others are so boring and slow that you have a hard time staying awake.
A very general list of things that a veterinary technician would do would include collecting patient histories, collect biological samples (blood, urine, feces, etc), running diagnostic tests, monitoring and medicating hospitalized animals, assisting in surgery, administering and monitoring anesthesia, performing dental cleanings, providing treatment for outpatients as prescribed by the attending veterinarian, filling prescriptions, answering client questions on preventative medicine, disease processes, medications, etc, maintaining inventory, caring for surgical and medical equipment such as anesthesia machines, taking radiographs, entering medical records, etc.
. Licensed veterinary technicians average about $17 per hour, the average yearly income for veterinary technicians in the US varies from $30,000-$45,000. In states where licensure is not practiced the pay tends to be lower than in states where licensure is recommended.
Before enrolling in a veterinary technology program, it is a good idea to volunteer or take a job at a veterinary hospital to see what the job of a veterinary technician really entails. Many people think that it will suit them but find out differently once they start school. Having personal experience in a veterinary facility will also help you to excel in your classes by giving you real-world application for what you are learning.
Also, contact your state veterinary technician association. They can give you detailed advice on the requirements for being a veterinary technician in your state and also help you to choose an appropriate school.