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Working as a Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Lab animal caretakers are also known as lab animal technicians. They provide daily care for the animals in medical and scientific labs. This includes feeding them, cleaning their cages, and observing their general behaviors. These professionals spend a lot of time around these animals, and so, they make direct and indirect contributions to the research process.

Laboratory animal caretakers also sterilize lab equipment to be used on the animals. They disinfect the cages, prepare animal blood and tissue samples, and aid the scientists in whatever animal-related help they need.

As a laboratory animal caretaker, they are supervised by the head scientist in the lab. They're required to perform other research-inclined tasks like developing radiographs, recording the animal's history, and administering medication.

To become a laboratory animal caretaker, applicants need a high school diploma or a two-year associate's degree in animal care and veterinary fields. The career path can be highly variable, so people with different educational backgrounds may also qualify. They'll also need to be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

What Does a Laboratory Animal Caretaker Do

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers look after animals in laboratories, animal hospitals, and clinics. They care for the animals by performing routine tasks under the supervision of scientists, veterinarians, and veterinary technologists and technicians.

Duties

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers typically do the following:

  • Feed, bathe, and exercise animals
  • Clean and disinfect cages, kennels, and examination and operating rooms
  • Restrain animals during examination and laboratory procedures
  • Maintain and sterilize surgical instruments and equipment
  • Monitor and care for animals after surgery
  • Help provide emergency first aid to sick and injured animals
  • Give medication or immunizations that veterinarians prescribe
  • Assist in the collection of blood, urine, and tissue samples

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are responsible for many daily tasks, such as feeding, weighing, and taking the temperature of animals. Other duties may include giving medication, cleaning cages, and providing nursing care before and after surgery and other medical procedures.

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers play a large role in helping veterinarians and animal scientists with surgery and other minor procedures. They may prepare equipment and pass surgical instruments and materials to veterinarians during surgery. They also move animals and restrain them during testing and other procedures.

Veterinary assistants typically work in clinics and animal hospitals, helping veterinarians and veterinary technologists and technicians treat injuries and illnesses of animals.

Laboratory animal caretakers work in laboratories under the supervision of a veterinarian, scientist, veterinary technician, or veterinary technologist. Their daily tasks include feeding animals, cleaning kennels, and monitoring the animals.

How To Become a Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers have a high school diploma and learn the occupation on the job. Experience working with animals can be helpful for jobseekers.

Education

Most workers entering the occupation have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Training

Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are trained on the job, but some employers prefer candidates who already have experience working with animals.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is not mandatory, it allows workers to demonstrate competency in animal husbandry, health and welfare, and facility administration. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have certification, and it may be required for advancement.

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) offers the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation for veterinary assistants. To qualify for the designation, candidates must graduate from a NAVTA-approved program and pass an exam.

Laboratory animal caretakers can become certified through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). AALAS offers three levels of certification: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG). For AALAS certification, candidates must have experience working in a laboratory animal facility and pass an exam. 

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers often communicate with pet owners, veterinarians, veterinary technologists and technicians, and other assistants. Good communication skills are especially important when dealing with an emergency, such as an ill or injured animal needing immediate attention.

Detail oriented. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must follow strict instructions. For example, workers must be precise when sterilizing surgical equipment, monitoring animals, and giving medication.

Dexterity. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must handle animals and use medical instruments and laboratory equipment with care.

Empathy. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must treat animals with kindness and be empathetic to both the animals and their owners.

Physical strength. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers must be able to handle, move, and restrain animals.

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Average Salary$22,344
Job Growth Rate19%

Laboratory Animal Caretaker Career Paths

Top Careers Before Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Cashier
18.0 %
Volunteer
10.5 %

Top Careers After Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Cashier
16.4 %

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Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Laboratory Animal Caretakers in America make an average salary of $22,344 per year or $11 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $31,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $16,000 per year.
Average Salary
$22,344

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Chicago, IL
Salary Range24k - 32k$28k$28,075
Ames, IA
Salary Range24k - 31k$27k$27,449
Inglewood, CA
Salary Range23k - 32k$27k$27,409
Madison, WI
Salary Range21k - 27k$24k$24,177
Buffalo, NY
Salary Range19k - 28k$24k$23,913
Nutley, NJ
Salary Range19k - 28k$23k$23,337
$15k
$32k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Senior Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Senior Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Suny Upstate Medical University
Suny Upstate Medical University
09/24/2020
09/24/2020
$34,83109/24/2020
$34,831
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Sinclair Research
Sinclair Research
01/25/2020
01/25/2020
$28,69601/25/2020
$28,696
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo
12/16/2019
12/16/2019
$29,25012/16/2019
$29,250
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Air Education and Training Command
Air Education and Training Command
12/09/2019
12/09/2019
$33,28812/09/2019
$33,288
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
New York State Civil Service
New York State Civil Service
11/28/2019
11/28/2019
$29,58911/28/2019
$29,589
See More Recent Salaries

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Laboratory Animal Caretaker Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Laboratory Animal Caretaker. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Laboratory Animal Caretaker Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Laboratory Animal Caretaker resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Laboratory Animal Caretaker Demographics

Gender

female

67.5 %

male

29.1 %

unknown

3.4 %

Ethnicity

White

74.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

16.3 %

Unknown

3.1 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.7 %

German

6.7 %

French

6.7 %
See More Demographics

Laboratory Animal Caretaker Education

Majors

Biology
16.5 %

Degrees

Bachelors

37.2 %

High School Diploma

32.1 %

Associate

17.4 %

Top Colleges for Laboratory Animal Caretakers

1. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

2. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

3. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,094
Enrollment
32,974

5. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, VA • Public

In-State Tuition
$13,620
Enrollment
27,730

6. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769

7. California State University - Fresno

Fresno, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,587
Enrollment
21,732

8. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Public

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

9. Delaware State University

Dover, DE • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,868
Enrollment
3,835

10. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Laboratory Animal Caretaker

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 29.5% of laboratory animal caretakers listed animal care on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and manual dexterity are important as well.

Best States For a Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a laboratory animal caretaker. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Oregon, Maine, and New Hampshire. Laboratory animal caretakers make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $33,135. Whereas in Oregon and Maine, they would average $31,202 and $29,313, respectively. While laboratory animal caretakers would only make an average of $29,221 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alaska

Total Laboratory Animal Caretaker Jobs:
12
Highest 10% Earn:
$41,000
Location Quotient:
3.79
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Maine

Total Laboratory Animal Caretaker Jobs:
17
Highest 10% Earn:
$40,000
Location Quotient:
2.48
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Hampshire

Total Laboratory Animal Caretaker Jobs:
24
Highest 10% Earn:
$42,000
Location Quotient:
2.23
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Laboratory Animal Caretaker Employers

1. SoBran
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$23,713
Laboratory Animal Caretakers Hired: 
78+
2. Pet Supplies Plus
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$25,194
Laboratory Animal Caretakers Hired: 
36+
3. Charles River Laboratories
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$26,807
Laboratory Animal Caretakers Hired: 
34+
4. Pet Smart Inc
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$27,373
Laboratory Animal Caretakers Hired: 
34+
5. NIH
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$23,068
Laboratory Animal Caretakers Hired: 
24+
6. Petco Holdings Inc
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$22,580
Laboratory Animal Caretakers Hired: 
20+
Updated October 2, 2020