Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Overview
Dangers as well as physical and emotional demands can be apart of a veterinary technologist’s or technician’s job, even though animal lovers gain satisfaction from this career. Training for veterinary technologists and technicians involves either a 2-year veterinary technician program or a 4-year veterinary technologist program. Though competition is expected to grow in places such as zoos and aquariums, there will be many job opportunities for veterinary technologists and technicians.
Nature of the Work for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Veterinary technologists perform similar tasks even though their training is different. They assist veterinarians similar to the way a nurse would assist a physician. Most veterinary technicians work in private clinical practices while veterinary technologists can choose to work in more advanced research-related jobs.
Veterinary technologists and technicians will perform medical tests, treat and diagnose medical conditions in animals, as well as conduct clinical work. Tasks could include assisting with dental care or taking an animal’s blood sample. While most work is done in a lab, veterinary technologists and technicians can perform tasks outside of the lab such has developing x-rays or recording a patient’s history. Veterinary technologists and technicians working in small-animal practitioner offices can work with dogs and cats as well as rats, sheep, pigs, monkeys, fish or birds.
Some veterinary technologists and technicians work in research facilities under veterinarian or physician guidance as well. Tasks can include administering medicine, preparing lab samples or recording an animals’ weight and the medications they are taking. Other tasks can include euthanizing ill or injured animals as well as admitting animals in the clinic.
The efforts of a veterinary technologist and technician can also contribute to human health by assisting veterinarians with research projects in medical-related fields.
Veterinary technologists and technicians must also clean cages and lift or restrain animals which can sometimes lead to illness or scratches and biting. Emotional stress can also incur for veterinary technologists and technicians witnessing animal abuse or who have to euthanize aged or unwanted animals.
The typical workweek for a veterinary technologist and technician is anywhere from 40 to 50 hours, but some veterinary technicians must be on duty 24 hours a day in some animal hospitals, research facilities or animal shelters.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Veterinary technicians who are entry-level usually have a 2-year associate’s degree from a community college in veterinary technology accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Courses are taught in clinical settings and in laboratories where live animals are. Some 4-year colleges offer programs in veterinary technology as well as 2-year programs in laboratory animal science. Those who graduate from an AVMA school can take the credentialing exam in any State.
Courses such as biology and math should be completed in high school for those who want to become veterinary technologists or technicians.
Veterinary technologists and technicians usually start out as trainees under the supervision of a veterinarian.
All States require veterinary technologists and technicians to pass a credentialing exam after they complete their coursework, even though each State’s regulations vary. The exam, regulated by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners, consists of oral, written, and practical portions.
For veterinary technologists and technicians looking to work in a research facility, they should receive certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) in areas such as animal husbandry, facility management, and animal health and welfare. Education and experience requirements are necessary for those wishing to become certified.
There are three levels of certification, the lowest being the Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT) certification, the second level being the Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) certification, and the highest level being the Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG) certification.
Communication skills, the ability to work well with others, attention to detail and organization are important qualifications for veterinary technologists and technicians.
Some veterinary technologists and technicians can advance to supervisory positions as well as taking on more responsibility with assignments.
Top 10 Most Popular Veterinary/Animal Health Technology/Technician and Veterinary Assistant Schools
1. Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology (Denver, Colorado)
2. Vet Tech Institute (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
3. Carrington College, Phoenix North (Phoenix, Arizona)
4. Cedar Valley College (Lancaster, Texas)
5. Argosy University (Multiple Campus Locations)
6. Pima Medical Institute, Chula Vista (Chula Vista, California)
7. Greenville Technical College (Greenville, South Carolina)
8. St. Petersburg College (Clearwater, Florida)
9. Columbus State Community College (Columbus, Ohio)
10. Medaille College (Buffalo, New York)
Most Popular Online Veterinary/Animal Health Technology/Technician and Veterinary Assistant Schools
Employment and Job Outlook for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Number of People in Profession
Changing Employment (2008-2018)
Employment is projected to grow much faster than average (increase 20% or more).
Out of the 79,200 jobs held by veterinary technologists and technicians, 91 percent work in veterinary services while others work in shelters, kennels, rescue leagues or zoos.
As people are more willing to care for their pets at any cost, more jobs will be available for veterinary technologists and technicians since many veterinary technicians work at private clinical practices for veterinarians.
There will also be a demand for veterinary technologists and technicians specialized in specific areas, such as dental or surgical, who can assist veterinarians in such procedures. Feline medicine and services will also increase as more people are keeping cats as companions. Jobs will also increase for veterinary technologists and technicians for employers looking to replace veterinary assistants with those who have more qualifications and experience.
The demand for veterinary technologists will also grow due to the support for public health, animal safety and national disease control programs.
Since few veterinary technologists graduate each year, job prospects will be excellent for those who do. Job opportunities will also open for veterinary technicians when people leave the workplace since most remain in the field for less than 10 years. Jobs will also be good for veterinary technologists working in biomedical facilities, diagnostic laboratories, wildlife facilities, drug and food manufacturing companies, or food safety inspection facilities.
Competition is still to be expected in places such as zoos and aquariums, even with the limited number of veterinary technologists and technicians who graduate each year.
Earnings and Salary for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Median annual wages of veterinary technologists and technicians are $29,280. The middle 50 percent earn between $20,180 and $35,880. The bottom 10 percent earn less than $20,180, and the top 10 percent earn more than $43,080.
Veterinary technologists working in research jobs can sometimes earn more than veterinary technicians working in other types of jobs.
Hourly Wage for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
On average, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians earn $14.08 per hour.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook