Equine Veterinary Technician: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for equine veterinary technicians. Get the facts about education and certification requirements, job duties and potential earnings to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Equine Veterinary Technician?

Equine veterinary technicians assist equine veterinarians with clinical and clerical tasks. They may travel with a veterinarian to examine a horse and help perform different diagnostic tests. An equine veterinary technician may specialize in collecting tissue and other body samples from horses for analysis in the lab. They run the various tests using high tech lab equipment. They may also help the veterinarian provide first aid, administer vaccinations and medications and prepare animals for surgeries. Equine veterinary technicians perform a lot of their tasks in the lab setting, but they also communicate with the farmers, ranchers and owners of the horses to help explain an animal's treatment plan and medications. The following table provides an overview for this profession:

Degree Required Associate's degree (minimum)
Education Field of Study AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program
Key Responsibilities Assist veterinarians, record patient histories, administer medications and vaccines, test bodily fluids, take x-rays
Licensure/Certification Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) required in most states
Job Growth (2014-24) 19%* (for veterinary technologists and technicians)
Median Salary (2015) $31,800* (for veterinary technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Duties Would I Have as an Equine Veterinary Technician?

As an equine veterinary technician, you'll perform services for a veterinarian that are comparable to those a nurse performs for a physician. You'd provide specialized nursing care, record patient histories, administer medications and vaccines, aid the veterinarian during surgeries and manage administrative work. You might also test blood and urine, take x-rays and radiographs, assist with maintaining oral health and prepare tissue samples.

Your job may involve long, erratic shifts, particularly during foaling season. You'll often need to travel to see patients. Not only do you need to be prepared to work closely with horses, you must also be able to communicate effectively with animal owners.

What Should I Study?

To become an equine veterinary technician, you need at least an associate's degree from a veterinary technology program that's accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Your program could provide you with experience working with animals, assisting with surgeries, dispensing medication and speaking with animal owners. You might take classes in animal anatomy and physiology, hematology, veterinary pharmacology, anesthesiology and surgical assisting. You'll receive hands-on clinical training working with animals, and you may be required to participate in an externship.

The American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants offers a certification program to supplement your AVMA-accredited training program. This program provides more specialized education in equine veterinary medicine. Some of the topics covered include basic horse care, equine anatomy and physiology, equine pharmacology and horse handling.

What Are the Licensure and Certification Requirements?

States have varying levels of regulation for veterinary technicians, but most require a credentialing exam to ensure that technicians have the knowledge needed to work in clinical settings. Most states use the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). Passing the credentialing exam may result in registration, certification or licensure, depending on your state.

What Might I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in May 2015, veterinary technologists and technicians earned a median annual wage of $31,800 (www.bls.gov). The top ten percent earned $47,410 or more, while the bottom ten percent earned $21,890 or less. These statistics include equine veterinary technicians.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Medical laboratory technicians, radiologic technologists and MRI technologists are all related careers in the medical field that require an associate's degree. Medical laboratory technicians also work in a laboratory setting and run various tests on tissue and fluid samples, but their samples come from human patients. Radiologic technologists also perform diagnostic tests by creating images of a patient using different medical equipment, such as x-rays. MRI technologists create diagnostic images as well, but they specialize in using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create the images of the patient.

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