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Veterinary technologists and technicians perform medical tests under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to assist in diagnosing the injuries and illnesses of animals.
Veterinary technologists and technicians typically do the following:
Veterinary technologists and technicians may observe the behavior and condition of animals in addition to restraining animals during exams or procedures. Veterinarians rely on technologists and technicians to conduct a variety of clinical and laboratory procedures, including postoperative care, dental care, and specialized nursing care.
Veterinary technologists and technicians who work in research-related jobs do similar work. For example, they are responsible for making sure that animals are handled carefully and treated humanely. They also help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety.
Veterinary technologists and technicians most often work with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, but they also may perform a variety of tasks involving mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, birds, or other animals.
Veterinary technologists and technicians can specialize in a particular discipline. Specialties include dentistry, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.
Veterinary technologists usually have a 4-year bachelor's degree in veterinary technology. Although some technologists work in private clinical practices, many work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist or veterinarian. Working primarily in a laboratory setting, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record information on an animal's genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain.
Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate's degree in a veterinary technology program. They generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may perform laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although some of their work is done in a laboratory setting, many technicians also talk with animal owners. For example, they explain a pet's condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Veterinary technologists and technicians hold about 102,000 jobs. The largest employers of veterinary technologists and technicians are as follows:
|Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||3|
|Social advocacy organizations||2|
Veterinary technologists and technicians typically work in private clinics and animal hospitals. They also may work in laboratories, colleges and universities, and humane societies.
Their jobs may be physically or emotionally demanding. For example, they may witness abused animals or may need to help euthanize sick, injured, or unwanted animals.
Veterinary technologists and technicians have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. When working with scared or aggressive animals, they may be bitten, scratched, or kicked. Injuries may happen while the technologist or technician is holding, cleaning, or restraining an animal.
Many clinics and laboratories are staffed 24 hours a day, so veterinary technologists and technicians may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.
Get the education you need: Find schools for Veterinary Technologists and Technicians near you!
There are usually two levels of education for entry into this occupation: a 4-year program for veterinary technologists and a 2-year program for veterinary technicians. Typically, both technologists and technicians must pass a credentialing exam and become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the state in which they work.
Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. There are 221 veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate's degree for veterinary technicians. Twenty-one colleges offer a 4-year bachelor's degree in veterinary technology.
People interested in becoming a veterinary technologist or technician should prepare themselves by taking high school classes in biology and other sciences, as well as math.
Although each state regulates veterinary technologists and technicians differently, most candidates must pass a credentialing exam. Most states require technologists and technicians to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Communication skills. Veterinary technologists and technicians spend a substantial amount of their time communicating with supervisors, other staff, and animal owners. In addition, a growing number of technicians counsel pet owners on animal behavior and nutrition.
Compassion. Veterinary technologists and technicians must treat animals with kindness and must be sensitive when dealing with the owners of sick pets.
Detail oriented. Veterinary technologists and technicians must pay attention to detail. They must be precise when recording information, performing diagnostic tests, and administering medication.
Manual dexterity. Veterinary technologists and technicians must handle animals, medical instruments, and laboratory equipment with care. They do intricate tasks, such as dental work, giving anesthesia, and taking x rays, which require a steady hand.
Problem-solving skills. Veterinary technologists and technicians need strong problem-solving skills in order to identify injuries and illnesses and provide the appropriate treatment.
Physical strength. Veterinary technologists and technicians need to be able to manage and lift animals.
The median annual wage for veterinary technologists and technicians is $32,490. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,340, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,330.
The median annual wages for veterinary technologists and technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||$40,590|
|Social advocacy organizations||32,140|
Veterinary technologists and technicians working in research positions often earn more than those in other fields.
Many clinics and laboratories must be staffed 24 hours a day, so veterinary technologists and technicians may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.
Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is projected to grow 20 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.
As the number of households with pets and spending on pets continue to rise, there is expected to be increasing demand for veterinary technologists and technicians to perform laboratory work and imaging services on household pets.
Overall job opportunities for veterinary technologists and technicians are expected to be good due to the projected growth in the number of jobs, as well as the relative high barrier to entry (obtaining degree and passing credentialing exam).
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2016||Projected Employment, 2026||Change, 2016-26|
|Veterinary technologists and technicians||102,000||122,400||20||20,400|