When you take your pet in to see your veterinarian, you may have an initial visit with a veterinary technician. The tech is an invaluable staff member who assists the veterinarian with exams, surgical procedures and diagnostic tests.
People in this career path should enjoy working with animals, people (every pet has a human owner after all) and have a scientific aptitude.
Let’s take a closer look at what it is like to work as a veterinary technician, the salary expectations and where to get training for the job.
1. What Do Veterinary Technician Do?
Job responsibilities for a vet technician can include:
- Collecting pet history
- Preparing animals for surgery
- Setting up surgical equipment and instruments
- Assisting the veterinarian with various procedures
- Performing laboratory and diagnostic tests
- Performing animal dentistry
- Developing radiographs
- Training or supervising other staff
The tech is the veterinarian’s right hand. Depending on the size of the veterinary clinic, they may be part of a technical team or may be the lone assistant. In smaller practices, they may be expected to provide additional services, well beyond a veterinary technician’s initial job description.
2. Work Environment
Most veterinary practices work beyond the typical 40 hour work week. Many clinics have evening and Saturday hours to accommodate their client’s needs.
They usually work during office hours but are not required to be on call. In a rare instance, they may be needed to assist with an emergency surgery. Usually, larger urban areas have emergency centers that relieve the area practices of emergency calls overnight and on weekends.
4. Entry Requirements
Requirements for Certification varies by state. Each state has a Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners or another agency that oversees the process. Depending on the state, you may need to be accredited, licensed or registered. For states requiring licensure, you may need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination.
To gain accreditation and the knowledge and skills to pass the examination, you will need to complete a course. According to the AVMA, there are over 200 accredited schools. A few schools providing veterinary training are:
5. Important Qualities
A vet tech plays a vital role in the veterinary clinic. Because the technician will be in contact with pet owners and hospital staff, effective communication skills are vital. Also, this person will be assisting the veterinarian with procedures that will require the ability to safely handle and restrain animals.
The technician will need to work well around animals and people. An aptitude for clinical science is also needed to perform the laboratory tests associated with diagnostic procedures.
6. Career Advancement
A qualified and experienced vet tech may advance to a supervisory role in a larger clinic. Another way to advance a career is to pursue a specialty such as animal behavior, preventative dental techniques or surgery.
It is also important to join professional bodies such as the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America and the International Veterinary Nurses and Technicians Association in order to gain access to educational materials and networking opportunities.
As your experience progresses and you become more confident in your skill, you may want to pursue a DVM degree, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and become a veterinarian.
7. Job Opportunities
The most common employers are veterinary clinics and hospitals. However, other employers include:
- Animal theme parks (think SeaWorld)
- The humane societies
- Animal diagnostic laboratories
- Breeders of pets or working animals
- Biomedical laboratories
- Animal food safety inspection groups
According to the BLS the Veterinary Technologists and Technicians sector is due to grow at 30% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than average. As such as long as you have the passion this is a career with a future.
See Also: How to Become a Veterinary Surgeon
As you can see, becoming a veterinary technican is a fantastic career opportunity if you have an interest in animal welfare. It’s enjoyable, fulfilling and financially rewarding!