Veterinary technologists and technicians do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.
What they do
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
- Take x rays and collect and perform laboratory tests, such as urinalyses and blood counts
- Prepare animals and instruments for surgery
- Administer medications, vaccines, and treatments prescribed by a veterinarian
- Collect and record animals’ case histories
In addition to helping veterinarians during animal exams, veterinary technologists and technicians do a variety of clinical, care, and laboratory tasks.
Veterinary technologists and technicians who work in research-related jobs ensure that animals are handled carefully and are treated humanely. They may help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety.
Typically working with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, veterinary technologists and technicians also may have tasks that involve mice, cattle, or other animals.
Veterinary technologists and technicians may specialize in a particular discipline, such as dentistry, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.
Veterinary technologists typically work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist or veterinarian. Some technologists work in private clinical practices. Working primarily in a laboratory setting, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record an animal’s genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain.
Veterinary technicians generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may do laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although they do some of their work in a laboratory, technicians also talk with animal owners. For example, they explain a pet’s condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Veterinary technologists and technicians typically work in private clinics and animal hospitals. They also may work in laboratories, colleges and universities, and humane societies.
Their jobs may be physically or emotionally demanding. For example, they may witness abused animals or may need to help euthanize sick, injured, or unwanted animals.
How to become a Veterinary Technologist and/or Technician
Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. Technologists usually need a 4-year bachelor’s degree, and technicians need a 2-year associate degree. Typically, both technologists and technicians must pass a credentialing exam to become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the requirements of the state in which they work.
Veterinary technologists usually have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate degree in a veterinary technology program. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredits veterinary technology programs. Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate degree for veterinary technicians; others offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree for veterinary technologists
People interested in becoming a veterinary technologist or technician can prepare by taking biology and other science courses in high school.
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.
The median annual wage for veterinary technologists and technicians was $35,320 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $51,230.
Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
As the number of households with pets and spending on pets continue to rise, demand is expected to increase for veterinary technologists and technicians to do laboratory work and imaging services on household pets.
Similar Job Titles
Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), Emergency Veterinary Technician (Emergency Vet Tech), Internal Medicine Veterinary Technician (Internal Medicine Vet Tech), Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT), Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT), Veterinarian Technician (Vet Tech), Veterinary Laboratory Technician (Vet Lab Tech), Veterinary Nurse (Vet Nurse), Veterinary Technician (Vet Tech), Veterinary Technologist
Respiratory Therapist, Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Respiratory Therapy Technician, Surgical Technologist, Dental Assistant
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians
- American Animal Hospital Association
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians
- National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
- Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
- Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society
Magazines and Publications
- Animal Wellness Magazine
- Today’s Veterinary Nurse
- Bovine Veterinarian Magazine
- Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
- Veterinary Focus Online
- AAHA Trends Magazine
- American Journal of Veterinary Research
- Vet Advantage
- Veterinary Practice News
Veterinary technologists and technicians are the quiet heroes of animal care. These animal health care workers assist veterinarians in diagnosing and treating animals who are hurt or sick. Also called "vet techs," they provide nursing care or emergency first aid, take samples, and run tests in the lab. In the operating room, vet techs administer anesthesia, monitor patients' vital signs, and assist surgeons in a variety of ways. The vet tech even acts as dental hygienist, evaluating animals' teeth and cleaning them with special equipment. The work can involve lifting heavy animals. It can also be demanding, requiring great patience and empathy. Sick animals are often messy... and may bite and scratch when afraid. Sadly, some can't be helped. Vet techs are also responsible for administering euthanasia, when the veterinarian and family agree it is the kindest treatment option. Veterinary technologists and technicians typically work in private clinics and animal hospitals. Other settings include laboratories, colleges, and universities. Some jobs require evening, weekend, or holiday work hours. Variable schedules are common. Veterinary technologists usually have a bachelor's degree in veterinary technology, while veterinary technicians need an associate degree in veterinary technology. Both technicians and technologists must become registered, licensed or certified, depending on their state requirements. And while vet techs' patients can't say "thank you," they have other ways to show their appreciation!
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org