Veterinary Technician (For Large Animals): Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Research what it takes to become a veterinary technician for large animals. Learn about job duties, employment outlook, education requirements and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Veterinary technicians specializing in large animals assist veterinarians who treat horses, livestock such as sheep and cows, and sometimes even exotic mammals, such as lions or bears in zoos. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Veterinary technology with specialty in large animals
Key Skills Compassion for animals & owners; manual dexterity for handling animals, equipment, instruments; problem-solving; communication
Credentials Required State requirements vary & may include licensing, registration or certification; most states require national exam; optional certifications for laboratory research workers available
Job Growth (2012-2022 ) 30% (all veterinary technicians/technologists)*
Average Salary (2013) $31,760 (all veterinary technicians/technologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Will I Do as a Large Animal Veterinary Technician?

You'll work alongside a licensed veterinarian and assist in caring for horses or livestock animals. Some typical job duties include taking blood counts, performing urinalysis, administering medications and vaccinations, preparing tissue samples, maintaining patient records, taking x-rays and providing nursing care. You will most likely travel to farms or ranches in rural areas to perform your job duties.

What Is the Predicted Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that veterinary technicians and technologists in general will experience excellent job opportunities and enjoy employment growth of about 30%, which is much faster than average, over the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). Job prospects could be particularly good in rural areas - which bodes well for large animal veterinary technicians - with additional demand in industries such as public health, national disease control and food safety. The BLS also reports that in May 2013, veterinary technicians, including those specializing in large animals, earned an average yearly salary of about $31,760.

What Education Prerequisites Do I Need to Meet?

For most veterinary technician positions, you'll need an associate's degree in veterinary technology. The program you attend should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), allowing you to sit for any state's credentialing exam. You may be required to take courses in veterinary medical terminology, animal anatomy and physiology, veterinary pharmacology, animal microbiology and large animal nursing. Your curriculum could also involve completing clinical rotations at off-campus locations.

During your course of study, you'll learn how to care for different types of animals, such as small, large, laboratory and exotic animals. Some programs offer you the option of choosing a specialty, like large animal care. Instead of completing a 2-year program, you could pursue a bachelor's degree program in veterinary technology. The AVMA also accredits such 4-year programs.

After you've earned your degree, you must become credentialed in order to work as a veterinary technician in the United States. Each state has its own credentialing requirements, but most require that you pass an exam which includes written, oral and practical components. The National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam is the preferred credentialing exam in many states.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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