What do Veterinary Technicians do?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Veterinary technicians are the veterinary equivalent of a nurse. They are responsible for assisting veterinarians in the day to day tasks around the office and in medical procedures. Veterinary technicians have usually attended enough college to get a two-year technical degree, and then the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), given through the American Veterinary Medical Association. States have different requirements for the exact requirements and fees to become a licensed veterinary technician.

Veterinary technicians may help treat livestock animals, such as pigs.
Veterinary technicians may help treat livestock animals, such as pigs.

Veterinary technicians have a lot of responsibilities around a veterinary office. They are responsible for keeping everything running smoothly. They make appointments for patients, and help with pet owners to understand what is wrong with their pet, and what the treatment options are, as well as how to care for their pets after a medical procedure. They also do billings and some other light office work.

A veterinarian technician must love working with animals.
A veterinarian technician must love working with animals.

The most important part of the job of a veterinarian technician is working with the animals. They are responsible for working with many different species of animals throughout the course of a day. Much like nurses in human medicine, a veterinary technician is responsible for performing physical exams and giving shots, such as vaccinations. Other responsibilities may include performing x-rays and cleaning teeth.

Veterinary technicians helps the main veterinarian diagnose animal conditions.
Veterinary technicians helps the main veterinarian diagnose animal conditions.

Another important task that veterinary technicians do is to assist during surgeries. This might involve preparing the surgery room, helping to anesthetize the animal, assisting during the surgery itself, and then performing cleanup afterward. Other tasks include performing tests and doing lab work.

Veterinary technicians instruct owners how to care for their pets following treatment, such as how to care for a bandaged wound.
Veterinary technicians instruct owners how to care for their pets following treatment, such as how to care for a bandaged wound.

Most veterinarian technicians work for private practices, but that is not the only option. The military has a growing number of positions available for veterinarian technicians on bases, providing routine care for the pets owned by military personnel. Veterinary technicians may also be hired to take care of laboratory animals, work with their local Humane Society, or may even be employed by private firms, as a public educator, or as a private animal care taker.

Veterinary technicians might be in charge of animal health at a zoo.
Veterinary technicians might be in charge of animal health at a zoo.

The job of a veterinary technician is very demanding. There is a lot to know and keep track of. It is often both physically and mentally challenging, and it can be hard to accept that not every animal who is brought into the veterinary clinic will be okay, despite everyone's best efforts. Anyone interested in this career should try volunteering at a local veterinarian office before starting a veterinarian technician degree, as this job isn't right for everyone.

Veterinary technicians must perform lab work.
Veterinary technicians must perform lab work.
A veterinary technician may assist a veterinarian before, during, or after surgery on an animal.
A veterinary technician may assist a veterinarian before, during, or after surgery on an animal.
The job of a veterinary technician is very demanding.
The job of a veterinary technician is very demanding.
Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

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Discussion Comments

anon302510

Your comment on vet tech positions is right on. It is very demanding, but can also be very rewarding - and schooling is important.

popcorn

Veterinary technicians really don't make a lot of money for the amount of work they are responsible for. I really think you need to love animals for this career to be fulfilling for you.

I read that in the USA that only the top 10% of veterinary technicians make around $20 an hour. For those who are new to the field and starting out, you are looking at around $9 an hour.

Considering the cost of two years of college, just recouping your costs could take awhile.

Interestingly, where you work, city wise, also plays a role in how much you get paid. Larger metropolitans tend to pay more. So you may want to consider a move to a bigger city to make more money.

lonelygod

For those who are curious about becoming a veterinary technician, you can often find volunteer work at a local animal shelter or clinic.

My friend worked as a veterinary technician and where she worked accepted students and adult volunteers. They also offered paid and unpaid internships.

I think, as this job can be very demanding, that those who want to pursue this career should take the time to sample before jumping right it.

While you may enjoy playing with your pet, it is another thing to clean up after dozens of sick animals, deal with customers and sometimes have to take care of grooming.

While most clinics have set guidelines on what a veterinary technician does, at smaller work places, you can find yourself doing a bit of pretty much everything.

anon46973

it is a great article.

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