Just as nurses assist doctors, veterinary technicians help veterinarians in the same way; only that in this case, they deal with animals rather than people. The population of pets is growing fast, and the focus on animal safety is rising at an equally quick pace. For these reasons, the demand for the services of veterinary technicians is set to rise significantly in the coming years. Before venturing into this field however, it’s important to be informed about the kind of things to expect while on the job.

Veterinary Technician Job Description

A veterinary technician provides front line care to animals under the direct supervision of a qualified and licensed veterinarian. Compared to a veterinary assistant, a technician is in charge of more duties, though still fewer than those of a veterinarian. The technician helps in carrying out x -rays, lab work, administering medication and anesthesia as well as recording patient information. The technicians may also help the vet in performing surgery. Although veterinary technicians are often mistaken for veterinary assistants, many states have laws that restrict vet assistants from executing the same functions as the technicians. Thus, to determine what applies in your area, it’s good to verify with the board in charge of veterinary medicine.

Veterinary technicians can work in a number of locations including animal shelters, pet hospitals, and independent laboratories. Though, they may also opt to go into private practice. Other than that, such professionals can provide their services in zoos, rescue agencies, research facilities and boarding kennels. Depending on where they get employed, the practitioners may deal with either small or big animals, but in some instances, they may focus on both.

Veterinary technicians have numerous job duties, including the following:
  • To collect samples such as urine, stool, and blood for testing
  • Carry out tests such as blood counts, urinalysis, and feline leukemia tests
  • Assist in preparing animals for surgery and dental procedures
  • Stabilize  animals during treatment
  • Sterilize the equipment used in different surgical and dental procedures
  • Administer vaccines and medications prescribed by the veterinarian
  • Guide pet owners on medical conditions, nutrition and general animal care
  • Advise clients on the products to use to maximize on animal wellness
  • Keep records of the animals including billing information
  • Order, label and organize pet foods and medications
  • Feed and bathe the sick animals where need be
  • Assist in the research done in research facilities

Veterinary Technician Prerequisites

While there are specific duties allocated to a veterinary technician, these professionals also need to possess particular traits. In performing their daily duties, vet technicians deal with numerous animal owners as well as members of staff. Thus, anyone who intends to pursue a career in this field has to be a good communicator. Interested individuals also need to be animal lovers who are detail oriented so as to avoid errors in providing treatment.

How to become a Veterinary Technician

To work as a vet technician, a person needs to at least have a veterinary technology associate degree. However, some may complete a bachelor’s degree. The program should however be taken in an institution approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Currently, there are 217 veterinary technology programs in the United States.

Veterinary Technician Training

While some veterinarians may be able to access on-the -job training; the training provided for individuals who venture into veterinary medicine usually lasts for two years. Learners who go through such programs are able to obtain Associate degrees. Though, some people go for bachelor’s degree programs in order to be more marketable in the industry. In such a case, the training can go on for up to four years. During the training, an individual is required to carry out clinical procedures on live animals and also does some laboratory work. To be better prepared for the job though, it’s important to volunteer at a facility as well in order to experience exactly what the job entails.

Veterinary Technician Certification

Licensing of technicians is carried out by individual states, but the most common certification issued to successful graduates is the one acquired after passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination. Individuals working in research centers may get certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS); though in this case, getting such documentation is optional. As long as one has the right qualifications, they can take advantage of the many veterinary technician positions available in the market today. By starting as a vet technician, a professional can also get the chance to work as a veterinarian in future.

Three levels of certification are provided are:

  • LATG – Laboratory Animal Technologist
  • LAT – Laboratory Animal Technician
  • ALAT – Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician

The body that provides the certification is the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science.

Veterinary Technician Salary

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Veterinary Technician Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the veterinary technician job description:
  • Provides front line care to pets
  • Work under the supervision of veterinarians
  • 2 year associate’s degree
  • Certification is not necessary but recommended
  • 30% employment growth by 2022