Veterinary Technician Job Description
Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They perform laboratory and diagnostic tests, and help explain an animal’s condition or medication to the pet owners.
Veterinary technicians perform many routine clinical and laboratory procedures within a vet’s office. They give medication, perform medical tests, take blood, and test urine, fecal matter, and other biological samples for signs of disease.
Veterinary technicians normally assist a veterinarian while the vet examines an animal. They make sure that the animal remains calm and secure while the vet administers shots or performs the checkup.
Veterinary technicians are also normally responsible for weighing pets and recording its medical history. They write down information that includes an animal’s symptoms, eating habits, and behavior. Veterinarians then use this information to help diagnose a problem with the animal, and are able to reference it during future checkups.
Though veterinary technicians can’t write prescriptions themselves, they often explain to pet owners how medication should be administered, and any side effects that they should watch out for.
Most veterinary technicians work with cats and dogs, but some handle other types of animals as well. Sheep, cattle, horses, birds, reptiles, rats, and mice are examples of other animals that some veterinary technicians work with.
If you love animals and want a career that will allow you to interact with them on a daily basis, then a job as a veterinary technician might be a good fit for you.
Work Environment and Schedule
Most veterinary technicians work in laboratories, animal hospitals, and private animal clinics. There are employment opportunities in other environments as well, though. Animal shelters, kennels, zoos, and humane societies all employ veterinary technicians.
This can be a very emotionally demanding occupation. Veterinary technicians frequently have to help unwanted, injured, or abused animals. In some cases, animals need to be put down, which can be difficult for people who love animals to watch.
Veterinary technicians spend most of their shifts working on their feet, which can be physically exhausting. Additionally, people in this occupation suffer a relatively high rate of injury. Being bitten or scratched by an animal is common for people in this occupation.
Most veterinary technicians work full time, and sometimes work irregular schedules. Many veterinary offices are open on evenings and weekends, and some clinics are open 24 hours a day.
How to Become a Veterinary Technician
An associate’s degree in veterinary technology is required to work as a veterinary technician. Veterinary technology programs take two years to complete, and provide the basic training needed to work in this occupation.
The American Veterinary Medical association maintains a list of accredited programs in this field. You can see the list of accredited programs here.
Most states also require veterinary technicians to be licensed, certified, or registered. The requirements vary from state to state, but most require the completion of the Veterinary Technician National Examination. You will be eligible to take this exam after graduating from an accredited veterinary technology program.
There are currently 80,200 veterinary technicians in the United States, with 5,570 new veterinary technician job openings created each year.
Veterinary Technician jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Veterinary Technician Salaries
Veterinary Technician salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most veterinary technicians make between $25,000 – $36,700 per year, or $12.02 – $17.62 per hour.