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Become A Veterinary Technician

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Working As A Veterinary Technician

  • 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

  • $37,200

    Average Salary

What Does A Veterinary Technician 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 Technician

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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Veterinary Technician Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Surgery Technician 3.2 years
Veterinary Nurse 2.8 years
Animal Technician 2.5 years
VET Assistant 2.4 years
Kennel Technician 1.4 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 7.6%
Cashier 7.6%
Volunteer 5.7%
Assistant 3.0%
Server 3.0%
Waitress 2.7%
Manager 2.5%
Technician 2.4%
Top Employers After
Internship 6.3%
Cashier 5.8%
Volunteer 5.0%
Manager 4.2%
Technician 4.2%
Server 3.9%

Do you work as a Veterinary Technician?

Veterinary Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

82.2%

Male

16.5%

Unknown

1.2%
Ethnicity

White

82.4%

Hispanic or Latino

10.1%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.7%

French

7.9%

German

4.1%

Portuguese

2.6%

Mandarin

2.1%

Italian

1.8%

Chinese

1.8%

Japanese

1.8%

Russian

1.5%

Dutch

1.2%

Arabic

1.2%

Hindi

0.9%

Korean

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Polish

0.9%

Swedish

0.6%

Cherokee

0.6%

Gujarati

0.6%

Bosnian

0.6%

Thai

0.6%
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Veterinary Technician Education

Schools

Texas A&M University

8.1%

Saint Petersburg College

7.5%

University of Phoenix

7.5%

University of Florida

7.4%

Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology

6.0%

Vet Tech Institute

5.8%

Tarleton State University

5.2%

San Juan College

4.6%

Iowa State University

4.6%

Colorado State University

4.5%

Sam Houston State University

4.4%

Cedar Valley College

4.3%

Murray State University

4.2%

Auburn University

4.1%

Globe University

4.1%

University of Pennsylvania

3.7%

University of Connecticut

3.7%

Oklahoma State University

3.5%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

3.5%

Northern Virginia Community College

3.3%
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Majors

Medical Assisting Services

27.1%

Biology

12.3%

Animal Science

10.1%

Business

7.1%

Nursing

6.3%

Veterinary Medicine

5.3%

Psychology

4.2%

Veterinary Science

3.8%

General Studies

3.0%

Medical Technician

2.9%

Criminal Justice

2.8%

Health Care Administration

2.6%

Zoology

2.0%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

2.0%

Education

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

Environmental Science

1.4%

Accounting

1.3%

Management

1.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

32.5%

Other

28.9%

Associate

23.5%

Masters

6.9%

Certificate

4.3%

Doctorate

2.0%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.5%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Veterinary Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
VET Tech Manager Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN Nov 19, 2012 $64,978
Veterinary Technologist Parkway Pet Hospital, Inc. La Mesa, CA Oct 01, 2010 $52,175
Veterinary Technician Western University of Health Sciences Pomona, CA Nov 01, 2011 $50,484
Veterinary Technologist Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL Dec 13, 2016 $50,000
Senior Veterinary Technician Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL Aug 26, 2013 $50,000
Veterinary Technician Riedstra Dairy Ltd. Mendon, MI Jan 09, 2016 $48,000
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Virginia Tech Leesburg, VA Jun 11, 2008 $46,104
Veterinary Technician Peninsula Equine, Inc. CA Nov 01, 2012 $44,662
Health Assurance Veterinary Technician Seaboard Foods LLC Guymon, OK Sep 09, 2016 $42,200
Veterinary Technician Brooklyn Veterinary Emergency Services New York, NY Nov 01, 2010 $40,697
Equine Veterinary Technician East End Equine, LLC Sag Harbor, NY Jun 29, 2016 $40,446
Veterinary Technician Synergene Therapeutics, Inc. Rockville, MD Jan 01, 2011 $40,000
Veterinary Technician Dartmouth College Lebanon, NH Nov 15, 2014 $40,000 -
$45,000
Veterinary Technologist/Manager Humane Society of Collier County, Inc. Naples, FL Nov 01, 2009 $36,500
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Humane Society of Collier County Inc. Naples, FL Aug 13, 2012 $36,500
Veterinary Technologist/Manager Humane Society of Collier County, Inc. Naples, FL Nov 01, 2012 $36,500
Veterinary Technician San Dieguito Equine Group, Inc. CA Jan 01, 2011 $36,063
Veterinary Technician/Technologist at Home Mobile Veterinary Services Kahului, HI Aug 01, 2012 $35,479 -
$41,740
Veterinary Technician El Centro Animal Clinic, Inc. CA Jan 01, 2012 $35,479
Veterinary Technologist and Technician CSSI Management, Inc. Atlanta, GA Dec 11, 2009 $35,000
Equine Veterinary Technician Palm Beach Equine Clinic, LLC FL Oct 01, 2015 $31,201
Veterinary Technician Animal Medical Clinic Redondo Beach, CA Sep 12, 2011 $30,700
Veterinary Technologist Alamo Area Veterinary Clinic Castroville, TX May 07, 2012 $30,451 -
$38,611
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital, P.C New York, NY Feb 03, 2009 $30,241
Veterinary Technologist Alamo Area Veterinary Clinic Castroville, TX Sep 25, 2012 $30,000
Veterinary Technologist Stage Road Animal Hospital Angier, NC Jun 24, 2015 $29,552
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Darrel Entzminger & Sons Jamestown, ND Jun 28, 2013 $29,218

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Top Skills for A Veterinary Technician

LabTestsSurgeryAnesthesiaIVEmergencyCareSurgicalProceduresCustomerServiceExamRoomsSchedulingAppointmentsDrawingBloodClientEducationRadiologyCatheterPlacementSurgicalPrepVenipuncturePatientCareAnimalCareDentalCleaningsPhlebotomyIdexx

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  1. Lab Tests
  2. Surgery
  3. Anesthesia
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Completed routine lab tests and cared for and fed animals.
  • Monitor animals recovering from surgery and notify veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
  • Monitor patients under anesthesia for all major and minor surgical procedures.
  • Educate clients on Canine and Feline vaccinations as well as flea, tick, and heart worm preventatives.
  • Monitored a number of patients per shift, including triage and emergency care.

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Top Veterinary Technician Employers

Veterinary Technician Videos

Veterinary Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

Veterinary Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

A Day in the Life - Veterinarian Technician