What Does a Vet Technician Do?
If your idea of the perfect job involves working with animals all day, then a Veterinary Technician job might be for you. About 70% of households own a pet and our growing love for animals means Veterinary Technicians are in high demand. Helping so many animals is a deeply rewarding and fulfilling job. Tending to the health of animals on a daily basis requires a lot of emotional stamina - in some cases you’ll be saving lives or delivering new animals into the world.
As a Veterinary Technician – or Vet Tech as they are also known - your knowledge will cover a broad range of procedures across vet care. You’ll work in a clinic or veterinary hospital under the direct supervision of a licensed Veterinarian. Your job will involve assisting the Vet in all kinds of areas – from administering basic tests to monitoring vital signs and taking samples from your animal patients to help with disease and diagnosis.
SkillPointe can show you what to expect as a Vet Tech, give you up to date information on salary, and offer tips from someone who’s already qualified. If you’re a compassionate person and want a hands-on job with plenty of variety, read on to find out more.
What are the job responsibilities of a Veterinary Technician?
- Review patient and talk through the review with the owner
- Take initial readings of patients’ weight and vital signs
- Handle all patient processes – including x-rays, CT scans and MRIs
- Administer medicine to patient
- Provide emergency triage and nursing to incoming or recovering patients
- Stabilize the patient for assessment
- Take blood for lab work (patient assessment)
- Monitor patient status under anaesthesia – including blood pressure, respiration, heart rate and oxygen levels
- Bathe, clip nails or claws and brush or cut patients’ hair
- Perform routine dental cleanings and imaging
- Collect and record animals’ case histories
- Administrative duties – scheduling, billing, and coding
- Provide home hospice care for senior pets (administer medication and treatments)
What are the entry level requirements for a Veterinary Technician job?
You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some states require certification, registration, and licensing – so you’ll need to know if this applies in the state you’ll work in. If your state requires certification, credentialing exams (Veterinary Technician National Examination, VTNE) are offered by The American Association of Veterinary State Boards. A 24-month associate degree will get you accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
What qualifications do I need?
If you’re interested in a career as a Veterinary Technician, you can prepare by taking biology and other science related courses in high school. Most entry-level jobs require an associate degree, though it’s not always necessary with the right credentialling and experience. Community colleges offer degree and training programs. For career Vets Techs getting your bachelor’s degree will help you go further in the field. A natural progression is to become a Vet Technologist. These advanced research-related jobs are usually under the guidance of a scientist or Veterinarian. Vet Technologists specialize in a particular area such as dentistry, anesthesia, emergency and crucial care, or Zoological Medicine.
How do I find a job?
Most states use the AVMA administered exams to license Veterinary Technicians. Passing the exam will get you certified, then it’s time to find a job. Most Vet Techs work in Veterinary Offices or private clinics, so these are the best places to focus your job search.
Is being a Veterinary Technician a secure job?
With so many people owning pets and the number of households with pets on the rise, it’s an industry that’s likely to grow faster than most in the next few years. Being a Vet Tech offers plenty of career opportunities and the chance to transfer to different locations. You’ll need to renew your license to maintain your certification – in most cases, every two years. There are lots of resources available to complete continuing education.
Getting your credentials and certification through The American Association of Veterinary State Boards will boost your career prospects. By studying for a further two years, you could become a vet technologist, take on more responsibility and the chance to work in advanced settings, like a laboratory. Here, you’ll learn to analyze an animal’s genealogy, weight, and diet. Becoming a Veterinary Technologist is a great way to boost your salary, with people in this field earning upwards of $56,000 a year.
Is there a demand for Veterinary Technicians?
The outlook for Veterinary Technicians is good. With practices typically busy, most Vet Techs will work full-time. Many Veterinary Technicians work around 40 hours per week, with busier clinic’s staffing two shifts a day. As critically ill or recovering surgical patients need constant care, and where you might need to respond to an emergency, there are opportunities for overtime. Some Vet Techs will work weekends and over the holidays to provide care for patients.
What will I get from being a Veterinary Technician?
As a Veterinary Technician, you’ll do laboratory tests like urinalysis and help the Veterinarian with other medical and diagnostic testing to diagnose injuries and illnesses. A big part of the job involves talking with your patient’s owner to explain their pet’s condition or give advice on how to properly administer any medication that’s been prescribed by the Vet. Being in contact with animals and their owners requires patience and compassion. Your personal skills will not only come in handy, they’ll also get a lot of practice, too.
Providing care and support for animals requires dedication and an ability to balance your duties. Being a Vet Tech means more than looking after the animals alone. Good communication skills and engaging in teamwork will help you succeed as you’ll need to give instructions to clients and veterinary assistants. Keeping track of lab specimens and medications for multiple animals will show off your great organizational skills. As a Veterinary Technician, you’ll need to be physically capable. Tasks like assisting with restraining animal patients during treatments or taking blood samples requires strength and perseverance. Being on your feet most of the day takes stamina.
Once you’ve been a Veterinary Technician for some time, you’ll be able to do even more around the clinic. As a key member of your clinic or hospital, you’ll get familiar with scheduling and other admin functions like billing and coding. By assisting with surgeries and gaining more experience through on-the-job education, you’ll build on your knowledge. Developing your professional skills this way can help you grow beyond your original expectations.
Becoming a member of NAVTA – The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America isn’t necessary for employment, but membership offers plenty of benefits.
What skills do I need to be a Veterinary Technician?
You Could Be a Good Fit for This Position If You:
- Love being around animals
- Are a good communicator
- Are detail-oriented
- Have good manual dexterity and steady hands
- Are physically able to constrain and lift large animals
- Are compassionate, patient, and resilient
The lowdown on a Veterinary Technician career
As a Veterinary Technician, you can expect your days to look quite different from one another. For some Vet Techs, the variety of work day-to-day is a big part of the job’s attraction. You might be doing routine bloodwork on a puppy one day and assisting a surgery on cattle on another.
Becoming a Veterinary Technician offers huge personal satisfaction and can be incredibly rewarding. An ability to handle sensitive moments is key. This means you’ll balance practical speech with a reassuring, caring delivery in situations like informing someone their beloved pet may have a serious condition or illness. You’ll be the first face people see and the first person people talk to in these difficult moments.
Being able to harmonize your work by offering advice with compassion will help you to manage complex situations, and to get the most out of your job. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a Veterinary Technician is the knowledge that you are making a difference – not only to the lives of your patients, but also their owners.