Veterinary technician jobs are some of the most prestigious and sought after jobs working with animals, especially for those who don’t have college degrees. Veterinary technicians work closely with veterinarians in animal hospitals and clinics, nursing and caring for pets and other small animals.
Veterinary technician jobs are also available at zoos and laboratories, where the techs assist the regular veterinarians in a variety of animal-health activities. Much of this is lab work, or assisting with animal testing activities, which can be stressful and challenging work for animal lovers.
But the most common setting for veterinary technicians is a small hospital, clinic or shelter that caters to pets. With the explosion in popularity of dogs and cats in recent decades, there are ever more clinics needed to treat these animals.
And with that growth in animal clinics and hospitals, veterinary technician jobs have opened up in almost every neighborhood in the country.
Just be aware that most veterinary technicians don’t make a lot of money. Salaries can range from minimum wage to start, up to $50,000 per year or more in some situations.
But you’ll get to work closely with dogs, cats and other animals. You’ll have the chance to help sick and injured animals in need. And you’ll be working in the exciting and rewarding field of veterinary medicine.
About the job
As you might imagine, veterinary technicians spend most of their time working directly with the animals in their care. They also work closely with the veterinarians at the lab or clinic, assisting with less complicated tasks, which frees up the vets to perform more involved procedures like surgery or diagnosis.
Some of the other duties of vet techs include;
- Helping the veterinarians with routine exams.
- Giving injections, drawing blood, and performing other routine lab work.
- Assisting with surgery, including the monitoring of the animals respiratory and pulse rates.
- Monitoring sick pets, and watching for changes in their vital signs and condition.
Assisting veterinarians with vaccinations, screenings and exams.
- Feeding and watering pets at the clinic, shelter or hospital.
- Cleaning out and sanitizing cages and pens, operating rooms and examination rooms.
- Veterinary technicians who work in animal laboratories may have additional duties, including preparing lab samples for examination, sterilizing instruments and equipment, recording information on research being performed at the facility, and more.
What the job is really like
Veterinary technician jobs can be hectic and stressful at times, as new patients are constantly coming an going at busy clinics and animal hospitals.
The phone is constantly ringing, the animals in residence need to be fed and medicated, and there is usually an emergency surgery or two that needs to be performed on a daily basis. As a result, veterinary technicians at most facilities work extremely busy shifts, which is just how a lot of people who work in this field like it.
Just like people who work in the human health industry, those who work in veterinary care are expected to be available seven days per week, and sometimes 24 hours per day if they work in an emergency facility. Pets and other animals get sick at all hours of the day and night, and on holidays as well. So many technicians can expect to work these shifts at least part of the time, especially when they’re just starting out.
For those technicians who work in animal laboratories, the work schedules can be a little more regular. Most of the animals in these facilities can be left overnight with little or no care, although the more animals housed there, the more work there will be on a daily basis for the technicians.
Another important consideration when considering a veterinary technician job is the stress involved, especially emotional stress. Some animals that arrive at the facility will in very poor condition, or even dying, and will have to be euthanized.
Seeing dying animals is just part of daily life for people who work in this industry. And for technicians who work in research labs, and who have strong feelings about animals, the reality of this type of research and testing can be hard to endure.
Training and certification
Most veterinary technician jobs don’t require a college degree. While some technicians have bachelors degrees in areas like veterinary technology, animals sciences or biology, for most who enter this field an accredited junior college or trade school program is all that’s needed to pass accreditation exams in most states.
Veterinary technicians who will be working closely with veterinarians typically require more education, and will have to pass state veterinary accreditation in most states before they’ll be allowed to practice.