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Become A Veterinary Nurse

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Working As A Veterinary Nurse

  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Deal with People

  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • $35,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Veterinary Nurse Do

Veterinary technologists and technicians perform medical tests under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to assist in diagnosing the injuries and illnesses of animals.

Duties

Veterinary technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Observe the behavior and condition of animals
  • Provide nursing care or emergency first aid to recovering or injured animals
  • Bathe animals, clip nails or claws, and brush or cut animals’ hair
  • Restrain animals during exams or procedures
  • Administer anesthesia to animals, and monitor their responses
  • Collect laboratory samples, such as blood, urine, or tissue, for testing
  • Perform laboratory tests, such as urinalyses and blood counts
  • Take and develop x rays
  • Prepare animals and instruments for surgery
  • Administer medications, vaccines, and treatments prescribed by a veterinarian
  • Collect and record patients’ case histories

Veterinarians rely on technologists and technicians to conduct a variety of clinical and laboratory procedures, including postoperative care, dental care, and specialized nursing care.

Veterinary technologists and technicians who work in research-related jobs do similar work. For example, they are responsible for making sure that animals are handled carefully and treated humanely. They also help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety.

Veterinary technologists and technicians most often work with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, but they may also perform a variety of tasks involving mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, birds, or other animals.

Veterinary technologists and technicians can specialize in a particular discipline. Specialties include dentistry, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.

Veterinary technologists usually have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Although some technologists work in private clinical practices, many work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist or veterinarian. Working primarily in a laboratory setting, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record information on an animal’s genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain.

Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. They generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may perform laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although some of their work is done in a laboratory setting, many technicians also talk with animal owners. For example, they explain a pet’s condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

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How To Become A Veterinary Nurse

There are primarily two levels of education for entry into this occupation: a 4-year program for veterinary technologists and a 2-year program for veterinary technicians. Typically, both technologists and technicians must pass a credentialing exam and must become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the state in which they work.

Education

Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. In 2015, there were 231 veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate’s degree for veterinary technicians. Twenty-three colleges offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Nine schools offer coursework through distance learning. 

People interested in becoming a veterinary technologist or technician should take high school classes in biology and other sciences, as well as math.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although each state regulates veterinary technologists and technicians differently, most candidates must pass a credentialing exam. Most states require technologists and technicians to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

For technologists seeking work in a research facility, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) offers the following certifications for technicians and technologists: Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG).

Although certification is not mandatory, workers at each level can show competency in animal husbandry, health and welfare, and facility administration and management to prospective employers. To become certified, candidates must have work experience in a laboratory animal facility and pass the AALAS examination.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Veterinary technologists and technicians spend a substantial amount of their time communicating with supervisors, animal owners, and other staff. In addition, a growing number of technicians counsel pet owners on animal behavior and nutrition.

Compassion. Veterinary technologists and technicians must treat animals with kindness and must be sensitive when dealing with the owners of sick pets.

Detail oriented. Veterinary technologists and technicians must pay attention to detail. They must be precise when recording information, performing diagnostic tests, and administering medication.

Manual dexterity. Veterinary technologists and technicians must handle animals, medical instruments, and laboratory equipment with care. They do intricate tasks, such as dental work, giving anesthesia, and taking x rays, which require a steady hand.

Problem-solving skills. Veterinary technologists and technicians need strong problem-solving skills in order to identify injuries and illnesses and offer the appropriate treatment.

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Head Nurse 4.5 years
Office Nurse 4.2 years
Nurse 3.2 years
Veterinary Nurse 3.0 years
Triage Nurse 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Veterinary Nurse
Internship 7.0%
Volunteer 4.3%
Technician 2.6%
Cashier 2.6%
Waitress 2.2%
Server 2.2%
Top Careers After Veterinary Nurse
Assistant 5.7%
Internship 4.1%
Volunteer 3.2%
Manager 2.8%
Technician 2.2%

Do you work as a Veterinary Nurse?

Veterinary Nurse Demographics

Gender

Female

76.5%

Male

15.8%

Unknown

7.7%
Ethnicity

White

62.1%

Hispanic or Latino

17.0%

Black or African American

11.8%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

2.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.6%

French

22.2%

Chinese

5.6%

German

5.6%

Mandarin

5.6%

Italian

5.6%
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Veterinary Nurse Education

Schools

Harcum College

10.2%

University of Phoenix

9.1%

University of Pennsylvania

8.0%

San Juan College

6.8%

Saint Petersburg College

6.8%

Camden County College

6.8%

Temple University

5.7%

University of Kentucky

4.5%

Delaware Valley University

4.5%

Northern Virginia Community College

4.5%

University of Maryland - College Park

4.5%

University of Maryland - Baltimore County

3.4%

Colorado State University

3.4%

Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology

3.4%

Pennsylvania State University

3.4%

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

3.4%

George Mason University

3.4%

University of Texas at San Antonio

3.4%

University of Alabama

2.3%

Kansas State University

2.3%
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Majors

Medical Assisting Services

25.1%

Biology

11.4%

Animal Science

10.7%

Nursing

9.6%

Veterinary Medicine

9.2%

Veterinary Science

5.5%

Psychology

3.7%

Health Care Administration

3.3%

Business

3.0%

Criminal Justice

2.6%

Medical Technician

2.6%

History

2.2%

Zoology

1.8%

General Studies

1.5%

Environmental Science

1.5%

Education

1.5%

Human Services

1.5%

Biomedical Sciences

1.1%

Agriculture

1.1%

Management

1.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.0%

Associate

24.5%

Other

21.6%

Masters

6.6%

Certificate

3.7%

Diploma

2.9%

Doctorate

2.1%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Veterinary Nurse

  1. Patient Care
  2. Lab Equipment
  3. Emergency Situations
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Teach student workers and fourth year veterinary students proper procedures, patient assessment and patient care.
  • Operate lab equipment including blood machines (CBC, chemistry, electrolyte analyzer) and radiograph equipment.
  • Skilled with patient follow up, answering medically related questions and advising in emergency and non emergency situations.
  • Continued career and skills growth by learning about exotic animal medicine as well as integrative veterinary medicine.
  • Monitored anesthesia and first-assisted in surgical procedures -Assisted doctors in filling prescriptions, communicating with pet owners, and monitoring patients.

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Top Veterinary Nurse Employers

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