Spotlights

Job Description

Veterinary technologists and technicians do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Caring for animals
  • Working with animals
  • Every day is different! 
2018 Employment
109,400
2028 Projected Employment
130,500
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities
  • Observe the behavior and condition of animals
  • Provide nursing care or emergency first aid to recovering or injured animals
  • Bathe animals, clip nails or claws, and brush or cut animals’ hair
  • Restrain animals during exams or procedures
  • Administer anesthesia to animals and monitor their responses
  • Take x rays and collect and perform laboratory tests, such as urinalyses and blood counts
  • Prepare animals and instruments for surgery
  • Administer medications, vaccines, and treatments prescribed by a veterinarian
  • Collect and record animals’ case histories
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Communication skills
  • Compassion
  • Detail oriented
  • Manual dexterity
  • Physical strength
Different Types of Organizations

Veterinary technicians generally work in private clinical practices or animal hospitals under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. 

Veterinary technologists typically work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist or veterinarian. Some technologists work in private clinical practices. Working primarily in a laboratory setting. 

Expectations and Sacrifices
  • Physically or emotionally demanding 
  • Risk injury on the job. They may be bitten, scratched, or kicked while working with scared or aggressive animals. 
  • Might work weekends and evenings.
What kind of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…
  • Loved animals
  • Helped friends or family members when they got injured 
Education Needed
  • Veterinary Technicians typically need an associate’s degree in veterinary technology
  • Note, that technologists and technicians have different educational requirements. A “technologist” needs a bachelor’s
  • Vet technology programs usually feature access to areas where students can work directly with animals on campus, as well as at veterinary hospitals and clinics via externships
  • Portland Community College’s program lists topics students will learn about, such as:
    • how to administer vaccinations and medications
    • perform oral care
    • collect diagnostic specimens
    • educating owners about animal behavior
    • maintaining medication and supply inventories
    • preparing patients for surgery
    • developing radiographs
  • Programs must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which offers a list of accredited college programs here
  • After graduation, Vet Technicians must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (managed by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, or AAVSB) to work in most states
    • The exam features 150 questions (plus 20 “pilot” questions that aren’t scored). Test takers have three hours to complete the exam
    • Exams are scored from 200 - 800. 425 is the minimum passing score
    • Pass rates vary, so it is critical to select a good training program and to study hard. Many students purchase optional study materials 
  • Students can use ASVSB’s Licensing Boards for Veterinary Medicine tool to find contact info for their state’s board
  • Additional certification options include:
What to do in HS and college
  • Take college prep classes in high school, including biology, chemistry, and math
  • Consider taking physical education or developing an exercise routine so you’ll have the strength to lift some animals, as needed
  • Don’t neglect developing your soft skills, such as communication and “bedside manner.” Animal owners get very attached and often think of their animals as family members
  • Get as much experience as you can working around animals, either through volunteerism, part-time jobs on farms or animal shelters, or even pet grooming!
  • Make connections while doing your externship. They might need you back full-time after you graduate and pass your credentialing exam
  • Practice good safety protocols while working with animals to ensure no one is injured — including the animals. Animals can get scared easily, causing them to bite, claw, or kick anyone near them. There’s also a risk that can hurt themselves jumping off a table or running out of an office
  • See if you can shadow a working Veterinary Technician for a day or two to learn their work routine
  • Review local job ads in advance to learn more about the qualifications employers are seeking
  • Read or watch interviews with Veterinary Technicians and learn about the various areas they might specialize in
  • Be aware that some technicians may have to perform euthanasia work, depending on the state where the person is employed (and the specific roles an employer assigns)
  • Learn about the specific licensure requirements for the state you plan to work in
Typical Roadmap
Vet Tech Gladeo Roadmap
Landing the Job
  • Build strong connections while studying and doing externships. Don’t be shy asking about job opportunities!
  • Treat animals with care and patience and remember their owners, too! Owners can put in a good word for you with veterinarians, but can also complain and hurt your chances of getting hired
  • Be proactive! Sign up for alerts on job portals like Indeed, Simply Hired, and Glassdoor. Upload your resume/CV to make it easier for employers to find you. Call local veterinary service providers and colleges to inquire about upcoming opportunities
  • Ask your school or program about any job-seeking resources they might offer
  • Check out Veterinary Technician resume templates for ideas on formatting and phrasing
  • Review sample Veterinary Technician interview questions. Pay attention to what sort of responses employers could be looking for
  • Make sure to conduct a few practice mock interviews and remember to dress for interview success
  • Keep your social media professional at all times

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