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Career Q&A: Technician

In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor

What will I do?

Technician opportunities offer exciting positions at the front lines of medicine that can usually be had with a two-year degree from a community college. Careers as cardiovascular technicians and veterinary technologists are two examples. Cardiovascular technicians help physicians with certain test and treatments that involve surgery They are also trained to independently perform tests that do not involve surgery. Veterinary technicians do many procedures on animals and teach their owners how to keep them healthy.

Then there are the technicians who work in medical equipment laboratories, away from patient settings. These technicians play important roles in making dentures and other custom-made dental fittings, as well as other items that patients depend on.

What training do I need and how do I get it?

Most jobs for technicians in hospitals and clinics require a two-year degree; a few schools offer four-year degrees. Those who graduate from cardiovascular technology programs are required to take a certification test. Veterinary technicians may also need to pass a state exam after their training.

On the other hand, medical appliance technicians typically receive their training on the job, though more community colleges are offering specialized training. While certification is not always mandatory for these jobs, employers sometimes prefer to hire those who have passed such tests.

What will I get paid?

A mid-range salary for a veterinary technician is about $23,00; for a cardiovascular technician, the average salary is about $38,000. Among laboratory technicians, those who work in dentistry average more than those in other medical equipment fields. Dental laboratory technicians make roughly $29,000, while medical appliance technicians make about $25,700 and those who work with eyeglasses and contacts make about $23,000.

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