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The hierarchy of a veterinary clinic is clearly delineated. Each member of the team has certain jobs that help the clinic run smoothly in order to provide quality care for clients and patients. Veterinary technician jobs require versatility, strength of character and compassion. In the hierarchy of a veterinary team, the vet tech falls above a vet tech assistant but below a veterinarian. Before you become a veterinary technician or start vet tech classes, it's a good idea to have at least basic knowledge about what a veterinary technician does.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, each vet technician goes through two to four years of schooling in an accredited vet tech degree program. Upon completing a vet tech program, the technician takes a national exam and, upon passing, registers for work in his or her geographic region. Vet techs are granted the title NVT (National Veterinary Technician), CVT (certified veterinary technician), RVT (registered veterinary technician) or LVT (licensed veterinary technician). These credentials vary by location but all denote the same job title and training.
A person who does not complete the required veterinary technician training or licensing procedures is called a veterinary technician assistant. These individuals help techs perform their duties. As a general rule, those working in veterinary technician jobs can do everything but diagnose a condition, prognose a condition, prescribe treatment or perform surgery. This means that individuals working veterinary technician jobs, including vet technician assistants, perform a wide array of duties over the course of the workday.
Vet techs can expect to perform humbling tasks like cleaning kennels and dog runs, more skilled tasks like taking blood samples and administering medication, and assisting with surgery or administering and monitoring anesthesia. Some vet techs perform client-oriented duties exclusively, like working a reception desk, educating clients about the doctor's instructions or filing records. Others only work with patients, taking vital signs, applying restraints, and running lab work. Most techs perform a combination of these duties. Veterinary technician classes teach all of these skills and more, so each tech knows how to perform these duties if the need presents itself.
In addition to standard veterinary technician jobs, there are specialized areas a tech can learn about. These specialties require additional training and range in focus from large animal care to exotic animal care to anesthesia or nutrition. Training in a specialized area can help prospective veterinary technicians obtain higher paying or more prestigious veterinary technician jobs.