Vet Tech Job Description & Duties

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (see: What is the AVMA?), a “veterinary technician is an integral member of the veterinary health care team.” (1) What does veterinary technician really mean?

This is someone trained in the care of animals who performs clinical work under the supervision of a veterinarian in private practice although some of them work in research. They carry out different tests to diagnose and treat animals. Some of their duties include:
• Taking blood samples
• Preparing tissue samples
• Assisting with dental care
• Performing such laboratory tests as blood counts and urinalysis
• Recording animal case histories
• Developing radiographs and x-rays
• Providing specialized nursing care
• Providing post operative care
• Sterilizing surgical and other laboratory equipment
• Vaccinating animals once in a while

Although veterinary technicians often deal with pets, they can also handle such smaller animals as rats and frogs or larger ones like sheep and cattle. However, they seldom work with both large and small animals in their practice.

Working with animals, some of which are caged, has its own risks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary technicians working on a full-time basis experience higher rates of work-related illnesses and injuries. They also often work in a noisy environment. The occupation is not only physically but also emotionally demanding.

Besides the satisfaction the occupation offers animal lovers, however, it is also financially rewarding. The average hourly pay is $14.92 and the mean annual salary ranges from $31,000 to $35,000.

Education and Certification
Entry level veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year degree (associate). The degree must be from a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The studies are conducted in a laboratory and clinical setting with live animals. The training qualifies people for certification exams from any state.

Different states have different regulations but they generally require credentialing exams, with many states using National Veterinary Technician exam. Those planning to work in research generally require the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science certification.

Students interested in taking the course should major in biology, math and other sciences in high school.