Vet technicians assist vets with diagnoses and treatment of animals in animal hospitals, private clinics, and research facilities.
Their duties include testing samples, such as blood, urine, stool, and more, administering medications and vaccines under the supervision of a vet.
They also prepare animals for surgeries including administering anesthesia and perform other tasks to help vets with animal care and treatment.
Vet technicians need specific training and a license, compared to vet assistants, who aren’t allowed to carry out tests or administer medications.
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Veterinary Technician Duties & Responsibilities
Vet technicians are generally tasked with:
- Assisting veterinarians.
- Preparing animals for surgery.
- Obtaining blood, stool, and other samples.
- Administering medications and vaccines, and treatments prescribed by a veterinarian.
- Administering anesthesia.
- Performing dental procedures.
- Testing blood, stool, and other samples.
- Restraining animals during exams.
- Emergency first aid.
- Monitoring vital signs.
- Taking x-rays.
Vet technicians assist vets in a similar way as nurses and lab technicians assist doctors.
Vet techs assist with animal treatment by helping administer medications and treatments and taking medical backgrounds from the owners.
They also test blood and other samples.
Depending on the workplace of a vet tech, specific duties may vary.
For instance, those who work in small private clinics serve family pets and will likely spend more time assisting vets with treatments and working with owners of the pets.
Those who work in research labs may spend more time in a lab running tests.
Veterinary Technician Salary
Salaries are higher in research facilities than in offices treating family pets.
- Median Annual Salary: $33,400 ($16.05/hour).
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $22,880 ($11.00/hour).
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $49,350 ($23.72/hour).
Education, Training, & Certification
A bachelor’s degree isn’t required for vet technicians, but they need to complete a two-year program and pass an examination in the state they live in to be certified.
- Education – Vet technicians need an associate’s degree from a two-year vet technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).
- Certification – Requirements for vet technician license vary by state.
The Veterinary Technician National Examination is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB), which is usually required.
- Training and experience – Formal training usually includes lab and clinical work with live animals.
If you are still a high school student, you should take science classes, such as math and biology.
You could also volunteer at an animal shelter or a vet office to gain experience.
Veterinary Technician Skills & Competencies
Besides the formal training, you also need to have some personal qualities and soft skills to succeed in the field.
- Active Listening – Vet technicians should be able to follow instructions of veterinarians and pet owners if they deal with them.
- Verbal Communication – You should be able to convey instructions to vet assistants and clients.
- Organizational Skills – Vet technicians have to keep track of medications and lab specimens for multiple animals.
- Teamwork – Working together with vet assistants and vets requires the skills to coordinate actions with the others.
- Stamina – Vet technicians work on their feet for the most part of the day, and sometimes need to assist with restraining animals when taking blood or for procedures.
- Compassion – Sometimes, vet technicians have to work with sick, injured, or even dying animals, and their owners can be distraught.
You should remain professional and make animals and their owners as comfortable as possible.
Soon, the demand for vet technicians is expected to increase because of the growing number of household pets, as the BLS reports.
The employment rate is expected to increase by 20% until 2026, which is almost three times as much as the 7% growth projected for other occupations.
The BLS also reports that degree and licensure requirements are relatively high, so the jobs will be available to those who meet the employment standards.
Most work of vet techs takes place in a lab, but they can also assist vets with procedures and exams when necessary.
Vet techs play a role in helping injured or sick animals, but the work can sometimes be difficult.
Sometimes, vet techs have to deal with frightened, aggressive, abused, or injured pets and may have to assist with euthanizing animals.
Typically, vet techs work full-time, and hours can depend on the practice, clinic, or lab where they work.
Practices that work on weekends or evenings usually expect techs to work some evening and weekend shifts.
Other labs and practices may operate only during standard business hours.
How to Get the Job
Before starting a career related to animals, you should volunteer or get a part-time position at a vet clinic or animal shelter to be sure it’s the right path for you.
You need an associate’s degree in vet technology.
Check with the licensing requirements of your state to take the appropriate test.
Comparing Similar Jobs
Those who are interested in a career as a vet tech may also pursue the following careers:
- Animal care and service worker – median salary – $23,160.
- Veterinary assistant – median salary – $26,140.
- Phlebotomist – median salary – $33,670.