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Veterinary Technician Career Guide

If you enjoy working with animals, especially helping ill or injured animals, then a career as a veterinary technician may be just the career you are looking for!

Veterinary technicians assisted licensed veterinarians by bathing animals, providing first aid, administering vaccinations and conducting an array of medical tests and examinations in order to help diagnose and treat animals.

To become a veterinary technician, you will need to complete a 2-year associates degree in a veterinary technology program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

 

When you think of what a Veterinary Technician does, you seldom think about the impact they have on pet owners. Many pet owners dread the Veterinarian almost as much as their pets do, so having a comforting Vet Tech as part of the experience makes it much easier to handle. Whether a pet is coming in for a routine checkup or a more serious concern, a Vet Tech has the opportunity to be a calming and uplifting presence for both owners and their pets.

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Veterinary Technician Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Veterinary Technician Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Veterinary Technician field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33352 Veterinary Technitian Female 28 $100,000 laguna hills, CA 01/01/2010
33288 Vet Tech Female 31 $25,000 Columbia, TN 01/01/2010
33141 Veterinary Technician Female 38 $35,000 Long Beach, CA 01/01/2010
33095 Vet Tech Female 34 $20,000 Rosedale, NY 01/01/2010

Overview

What a veterinary technician does

Veterinary technicians are responsible for assisting licensed veterinarians. They can conduct an array of medical tests and examinations in order to help diagnose and treat animals. The majority of veterinary technicians work in animal hospitals or animal clinics. However, there are other employment opportunities including animal shelters, humane societies, and zoos. Recently, there has been a demand for veterinary technicians to work in food and animal safety, public health, and disease control.

Regardless of where they work, the typical duties of a veterinary technician include:

  • Observing the behaviour and condition of animals
  • Bathing animals, clipping their nails/claws or brushing them
  • Providing emergency first aid
  • Restraining animals during exams or physical procedures
  • Administering anesthesia to animals and monitoring their response
  • Taking x rays
  • Performing laboratory tests (e.g., urinalyses or blood count)
  • Preparing animals for surgery
  • Insuring equipment is sterilized
  • Administering medications, vaccines and treatments prescribed by the vet

Why they are needed

All domestic or captive animals are likely to need some form of veterinary attention over their life – whether its routine injections, being neutered or having surgery.

Veterinary technicians are needed the same way physician assistants or dental assistants are needed. They play a huge role in reducing the stress placed on the licensed veterinarian. As a knock-on effect of this, veterinary care becomes more efficient, more reliable and our four legged furry friends will get the best possible care.

Pros and cons of a career as a veterinary technician:

Pros:

  • There is a strong demand for veterinary technicians, meaning there is lots of security and opportunities
  • Veterinary technicians get to work with animals every single day, which gives them high job satisfaction
  • There is the potential to earn a good salary
  • There are lots of opportunities for advancement
  • It can offer part time work, which makes it flexible
  • No two days are the same, making it interesting and exciting!

Cons:

  • Veterinary technicians work long and sometimes odd hours
  • Dealing with distraught pet owners can be stressful and emotional exhausting
  • Veterinary technicians are always at the threat of being kicked, bitten or scratched
  • Veterinary technicians may have to assist in euthanising animals, which can be devastatingly difficult

Employability

Job Market

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the employment of veterinary technicians is projected to grow 16% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster that the average for all occupations.

This employment growth is expected because the number of households with pets and spending on pets will continue to rise, creating a demand for veterinary technicians to assists veterinarians in looking after these animals.

Career paths

Typically, veterinary technicians will usually have a 2-year associates degree in a veterinary technology program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. In order to have the best chances of getting accepted, veterinary technicians should take classes in biology or another science at high school.

Example Job Titles for Veterinary Technician

Below is a list of common job titles in the Veterinary Technician field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for veterinary technicians was $35,320 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,540 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $51,230.

The top paying industry was junior colleges, colleges, universities and professional schools, where the median annual salary was $40,990. This was followed by veterinary services ($34,990) and then social advocacy organizations ($34,980).

Autonomy and flexibility

Veterinary technicians will have some control over their decisions, and thus feel some autonomy. However, ultimately they work under a licensed veterinarian, so all final decisions are down to them. Or, of course, the pet owner will always have the final say.

Veterinary technicians can have the opportunity to work part time, meaning there is the opportunity to have a more flexible schedule.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a veterinarian, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities available, are:

  1. Maine, where the average annual salary is $39,038
  2. West Virginia, where the average annual salary is $38,875
  3. Indiana, where the average annual salary is $35,335
  4. New York, where the average annual salary is $43,367
  5. Kansas, where the average annual salary is $36,598

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Georgia, Washington, Texas, Montana and Louisiana.

Work environment

The largest employed of veterinary technicians in the United States was veterinary services, which employed 90% of all veterinarians. 4% of veterinary technicians were employed by junior colleges, colleges, universities and professional schools. A further 2% are employed by social advocacy organizations.

The work of a veterinary technician can be incredibly emotionally demanding. They may have to care for abused animals, aid in the euthanasia  sick ones and offer support to pet owners. Veterinary technicians are also at risk of being bitten, kicked and scratched by distressed (or mean!) animals.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Veterinary Technician careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Veterinary Technician career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Veterinary Technician.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

Big Five (OCEAN)

DISC

  • None

Enneagram

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

Personality types

Veterinary technicians are likely to have incredibly empathetic, caring and gentle personalities. They are likely to be the type of person that makes others feel at ease, and the type that has a genuine interest in caring for others.

Accomplishment and mastery

A career as a veterinary technician is relatively easy to enter. Therefore, the sense of mastery for veterinary technicians is often fairly high to begin with as they quickly gather duties and responsibilities. Similarly, throughout their career, veterinary technicians will help animals, and their owners, each and every day, meaning that the sense of accomplishment is likely to remain high.

Meaning and contribution

As the demand for veterinary care is only set to increase over the coming years, as more and more people are getting domestic pets. As a result, the work of veterinary technicians is essential to provide safe, efficient and correct care.

Life fit

Many veterinary technicians are full-time employees. However, it is possible for technicians to obtain part-time work. Veterinary technicians may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays, depending on who they work for.

Who will thrive in this career?

Firstly, to thrive as a veterinary technicians you absolutely must love animals. You should not be afraid of them and have their best interests at heart. You will truly thrive as a veterinary technician if you are empathetic and compassionate. So many people care deeply for their pets and veterinary assistants need to be able to lend a sympathetic, and understanding, ear. Similarly, you likely need to have a strong stomach in order to thrive as a veterinary assistant – blood, puss, saliva, bile… you’ll have to witness it all!

Who will struggle in this career?

Firstly, if you are not physically fit then you may struggle to keep up with the demands of job, which may involve bending over for long periods of time or lifting heavy animals. Those who are afraid of animals or of blood and gore may also struggle as a veterinary assistant. Finally, if you’re not able to work as part of a team, then you may struggle with the cohesive environment in a veterinary practice.

Requirements

Skills and talents

  • Communication skills, as veterinary technicians must be able to communicate effectively veterinarians and with the owners of the animals they are dealing with
  • Detail-orientation, as veterinary technicians must pay exceptional attention to detail in order to spot what is wrong with an animal
  • Compassion, as veterinary technicians must be respectful and understanding when treating animals and dealing with their owners
  • Dexterity, as veterinary technicians must be able to control their hand movement and be precise when treating injuries
  • Listening skills, as veterinary technicians will need to listen to the veterinarian who is supervising them and closely follow their instructions

Education

Typically, veterinary technicians will usually have a 2-year associates degree in a veterinary technology program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

Certificates

Licensing and certification varies in each state. However, in most states, veterinary technicians are require technologists and technicians to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

How to Become

Summary

Veterinary technicians assisted licensed veterinarians by bathing animals, providing first aid, administering vaccinations and conducting an array of medical tests and examinations in order to help diagnose and treat animals.

There are essential to veterinary services, as they take the workload off vets and ensure that things run smoothly and efficiently. As the number of people with domestic pets is set to increase over the coming years, so is the demand and number of job opportunities for veterinary technicians.

Immediate action

High school students who are interested in a career as a veterinary technician should take classes in biology or another science at high school.

Education and learning

Typically, to become a veterinary technician you will need to complete a 2-year associates degree in a veterinary technology program that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

Skill development

Veterinary technicians learn many of their skills through their education and on-the-job training. As they progress through their career, they will further progress their skills and knowledge due to the practical and hands-on nature of the work. If the perform exceptionally well, then they may even advance to more senior positions.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Veterinary Technician careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33352 Veterinary Technitian Female 28 $100,000 laguna hills, CA 01/01/2010
33288 Vet Tech Female 31 $25,000 Columbia, TN 01/01/2010
33141 Veterinary Technician Female 38 $35,000 Long Beach, CA 01/01/2010
33095 Vet Tech Female 34 $20,000 Rosedale, NY 01/01/2010

Resources