What's the Job Description of a Veterinary Technician?

Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in the care and treatment of animals. Learn about the job duties, education, licensing, and career options of veterinary technicians. Schools offering Veterinary Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Veterinary technicians and technologists work under the supervision of veterinarians, assisting with a wide variety of duties. While technologists require more training, the duties of veterinary technicians and technologists overlap. In these roles, you may dispense medications, update records, discuss preventive care with pet owners, take x-rays, and assist in surgeries. Additional duties may include performing diagnostic tests, analyzing specimens in the laboratory, and handling animals during appointments. You may also perform some basic-care duties, such as brushing teeth, bathing, or monitoring animals kept for observation.

Most veterinary technicians work in private veterinary clinics and hospitals; however, as a technician, you may also be employed by a zoo or aquarium, diagnostic laboratory, animal shelter, or in wildlife rehabilitation. Becoming a veterinary technologist may open some more research-oriented opportunities for you. You may, for example, assist veterinarians and other scientists in research involving gene therapy.

Important Facts About Veterinary Technicians

Median Salary (2014)$31,070 (for veterinary technologists and technicians)
Key SkillsProblem-solving, manual dexterity, communication
Professional CertificationAvailable to show additional competency for those already licensed
Similar OccupationsVeterinarian, surgical technologist, veterinary assistant

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

Veterinary technicians are typically required to earn an associate's degree in veterinary technology. Completing a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meets the education requirements for state licensing or certification. Typical coursework includes veterinary parasitology, radiology, anatomy and physiology, surgical technology, pharmacology, and microbiology. Clinical experience is also incorporated into accredited programs. You're likely to receive on-the-job training, to familiarize you with lab equipment and procedures.

Veterinary technologists earn four-year degrees in veterinary technology. According to their website, the AVMA has accredited 231 veterinary technology programs that provide clinical and laboratory facilities for working with live animals (www.avma.org). Of these programs, 23 lead to a bachelor's degree and nine offer distance learning.

Licensing

Every state has some type of regulation for veterinarian technicians, like licensure or certification. A majority of states require applicants to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam. States typically also require graduation from an accredited veterinary program.

Job Outlook

The BLS predicted job growth for veterinarian technicians and technologists to increase 30% from 2012-2022, which is much faster than average (www.bls.gov). The increased demand for veterinary technologists and technicians is largely attributed to veterinarians preferring those with more training and skills, rather than veterinary assistants, per the BLS.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Strayer University

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