Veterinary technologists work closely with animals in an office or clinic setting. They have the ability to provide multiple job functions with the animals, while working alongside a licensed veterinarian. They provide a thorough check of the animal prior to being seen by the veterinarian, as well as provide other job duties as assigned by the overseeing veterinarian in the office, clinic or other animal care setting.
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A vet tech plays a vital role in making sure that the office setting runs as smoothly as possible. They can work in various settings such as a veterinarian office or clinic, non-profit organization or zoo or marine life setting. The path that the veterinarian technologist takes depends on their preference of location.
Job Duties of a Veterinary Technologist
A veterinary technologist is in charge of a few different aspects of the office and care of the animals that are seen on a daily basis. Many of these job duties are overseen by a veterinarian. Their duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited too:
- Giving medications, shots or other treatments
- Taking vitals
- Taking X-rays
- Provide first aid procedures
- Observing animal’s behavior
- Maintaining patient records
- Preparing animals for surgery
- Taking lab tests
A General Education or High School Diploma is necessary, as well as higher education. A class for this program is required and it generally lasts for two years. After these two years and proper examination is passed, the student is then certified to provide services as a veterinary technologist.
Additional classes can be taken to further the career of the student, depending on if they want to have a more focused career on a specialty. Each student has to complete a set number of lab hours, as well as pass a certification exam focused on the care and safety of animals.
Most employers look for techs that have an Associate’s Degree focused in veterinary technology from an accredited degree program. Though, some offices will take those that have a certificate program completion and work on furthering their education through other classes.
Veterinary technologists have a handful of different ways to advance their careers in animal care. They can specialize in different niches of animal care such as equine, exotics, dental, nutrition or behavior. They can also specialize in training pets and provide the services through the office that they currently work at.
There are also other ways for the veterinarian to advance their career, such as becoming a Certified Veterinary Technician, Licensed Veterinarian Technician or a Registered Veterinarian Technician. This provides an additional credential to the portfolio of the veterinarian technician. Technicians can also move into Practice or Field Manager.
Career Salary, Projected Growth and Employment Opportunities
The current median salary, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is $31,800 in 2015. However, some techs may make more or less depending on the setting that they work in, the city that they work, as well as if they have a specialty in a specific area or not. See our salary guide.
The projected growth for this specific career is looking to rise 19% or more in the coming years. This is due to the increase in offices, baby boomers retiring and a need for more techs to be inside offices assisting veterinarians with day-to-day operations.
Over 90% of vet techs work in offices, clinics and other types of veterinary facilities. The rest of the techs work in zoos, shelters and research facilities. Internships are offered through many of these settings, allowing the newly graduated tech to have hands on experience, which are oftentimes provided after the completion of the program and are paid.