How to Become a Veterinary Oncology Technician in 5 Steps

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

What Is a Veterinary Oncology Technician?

Veterinary oncology technicians work with veterinarians to prepare animals for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. They will also help diagnose, treat and prevent cancer and tumors in their animal patients. Veterinary oncology technicians must balance treating the animal with monitoring the animal's discomfort, as well as tending to the pet owner's emotional needs. They also observe animals' behavior, help restrain animals during exams and procedures, collect samples if needed, run various laboratory tests and administer medications. Most veterinary oncology technicians work in clinics or animal hospitals, but some may work in laboratory settings. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree, along with credentialing exam
Education Field of Study Veterinary technology
Key Responsibilities Conduct laboratory tests, assist physicians with diagnostic tests, advise patients on the care of their animal
Licensure/Certification Licensure, certification or registration required by state
Job Growth (2014-2024) 19% (for all veterinary technologists and technicians)*
Mean Salary (2015) $33,280 (for all veterinary technologists and technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Veterinary Oncology Technician Do?

As a veterinary oncology technician, you'll assist veterinarians in treating animals, especially dogs and cats, which are suffering from cancer. You'll prepare animals for chemotherapy and other radiation treatments and explain these procedures and outcomes to pet owners. You'll work closely with veterinarians and clinic staff. Your duties may include scheduling, admitting and discharging patients.

Step 1: Enroll in an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree Program

To work as a veterinary technician you'll need at least an associate's degree from a 2-year veterinary technician program. Courses may require working in a lab and studying live animals. Some veterinary schools also offer 4-year bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology.

Admission to most veterinary technician programs requires a grade of C or higher in your college math and science classes. Experience working with animals and demonstrated self -motivation may help you gain admission. Some programs require you to take biology, chemistry, writing and medical terminology classes.

Step 2: Complete Clinical Experience Requirements

Along with learning basic animal care, anatomy and physiology, radiology, nursing, anesthesia and pharmacology, many veterinary technology programs require clinical experience to graduate. You can gain this experience through private practice clinical internships and clinical rotations at participating veterinary hospitals

Step 3: Gain Work Experience in Internal Medicine

According to the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians (AIMVT), before you can obtain your oncology certification, you'll need at least three years or 6,000 hours within five years of internal medicine experience as a veterinary technician (www.aimvt.com). Gaining oncology skills such as proper animal restraint, calculation of intravenous drugs, administration of medications, surgery preparation and laboratory testing will help you gain certification. In an entry-level position, you'll most likely receive on-the-job training and work under the direct supervision of your veterinarian.

Step 4: Obtain Oncology Certification

Certification as a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Internal Medicine through the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) indicates that you're prepared to provide exceptional care to animals. To obtain your board oncology certification you'll need 40 hours of continuing education in addition to the required experience. You'll need to keep a skill log and record a minimum of 50 cases. Finally, you'll need to pass an exam and obtain two letters of recommendation from a veterinary technician specialist in internal medicine or from a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Step 5: Pursue Continuing Education

Both AIMVT and ACVIM offer continuing education classes and conferences. You can also get continuing education credit for attending lectures or webinars, reading journal articles or getting an article you wrote published.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Radiologic and MRI technologists are similar positions that require at least an associate's degree. Both jobs use medical equipment to create diagnostic images for patients. Radiologic technicians use machines like x-rays, while MRI technologists specialize in using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. Medical laboratory technicians are also related, and require an associate's degree. These technicians collect samples from a patient to conduct medical tests.

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