Veterinary Technician Career Profile

A veterinary technician (VT) is a person who does laboratory and clinical work under a veterinarian's supervision. So, in laymen terms, VTs perform the duties of a nurse in a veterinary hospital or clinic.

Duties and Responsibilities

There are varied responsibilities for this position, depending upon the veterinary office. Some of a VT's primary duties are listed directly below:

  • Comfort the ailing and sick animals and treat them in a veterinary clinic.
  • Restrain or hold animals when a veterinarian is examining them.
  • Conduct medical tests, take blood samples, vaccinate, provide dental care and analyze test results.
  • Give animals injections, apply dressing to open wounds and record the vital signs of sick animals.
  • Clean animals’ ears, trim nails, take x-rays and execute pathology tests.
  • Assist the veterinarian during surgery. Surgery can include orthopedic treatments or artificial insemination. Help in the operation room, which includes preparing the surgical table, connecting the animal to an EKG machine and monitoring the animal.
  • Train the caretakers of the pets about proper hygiene and upbringing of their pets and notify them regarding their immunization schedule.
  • Might have to bathe, feed and take care of small or feeble hospitalized animals.
  • Maintain the data, which includes but is not limited to, the medical histories, treatments, dietary suggestions and vital signs pertaining to the visiting animals and that are stored on papers or electronically, as in Excel spreadsheets.

Educational Requirement

A VT should have an associate’s degree in veterinary technology, which is a two-year program with subjects like animal anatomy and physiology, animal parasitology, veterinary techniques, and veterinary office management. The course should have been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. After attaining the associate’s degree, a VT has to pass a credential exam as per the state rule in order to practice as a certified veterinary technician.

Work Environment

Many VTs are employed in veterinarians’ offices, kennels, and research laboratories. Some are employed by federal government agencies. VTs can also work for zoos or animal pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers. They generally have to work with only a narrow range of types of animals. The animals they have to work with normally are small pets or horses. They should have a physical and emotional endurance to deal with ailing animals. Sometimes, injured or sick animals become dangerous, and their behavior is often unpredictable.

Income Possibilities

In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculated the annual mean salary of VTs to be $28,920. The average hourly wage is $13.90. VTs in the federal government are paid the highest in this career. They earn around $43,380. VTs in pharmaceutical companies earn about $42,240.

Employment Outlook

The opportunities in this field will increase with more people turning towards pets as companions.  A VT can be promoted to a supervisory level after a few years of experience in the field. The BLS has predicted the growth to be around 41 percent, making this the fastest growing of all occupations. This reflects the increasing numbers of pet owners ready to pay for specialized treatment for their beloved animals.