Veterinary Technician

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Quick Facts: Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
2019 Median Pay $35,320 per year
$16.98 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2019 112,900
Job Outlook, 2019-29 16% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29 18,300

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

veterinary technologists and technicians image

Veterinary technologists and technicians are responsible for the careful and humane handling of laboratory animals.

Veterinary technologists and technicians, supervised by licensed veterinarians, do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.

Duties

Veterinary technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • 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

In addition to helping veterinarians during animal exams, veterinary technologists and technicians do a variety of clinical, care, and laboratory tasks.

Veterinary technologists and technicians who work in research-related jobs ensure that animals are handled carefully and are treated humanely. They may help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety.

Typically working with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, veterinary technologists and technicians also may have tasks that involve mice, cattle, or other animals.

Veterinary technologists and technicians may specialize in a particular discipline, such as dentistry, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.

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, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record an animal’s genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain.

Veterinary technicians generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may do laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although they do some of their work in a laboratory, 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

Veterinary technologists and technicians typically work in private clinics and animal hospitals.

Veterinary technologists and technicians held about 112,900 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of veterinary technologists and technicians were as follows:

Veterinary services 90%
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 4
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.

Injuries and Illnesses

Veterinary technologists and technicians risk injury on the job. They may be bitten, scratched, or kicked while working with scared or aggressive animals. Injuries may happen while the technologist or technician is holding, cleaning, or restraining an animal.

Work Schedules

Veterinary technologists and technicians may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.

Veterinary technologists and technicians

Typically, both technologists and technicians must pass a credentialing exam and must 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. Technologists usually need a 4-year bachelor’s degree, and technicians need a 2-year associate’s degree. Typically, both technologists and technicians must pass a credentialing exam to become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the requirements of the state in which they work.

Education

Veterinary technologists usually have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredits veterinary technology programs. Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate’s degree for veterinary technicians; others offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree for veterinary technologists

People interested in becoming a veterinary technologist or technician can prepare by taking biology and other science courses in high school.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Veterinary technologists and technicians communicate with supervisors, other staff, and animal owners. 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 need a steady hand for intricate tasks such as doing dental work, giving anesthesia, and taking x rays.

Physical strength. Veterinary technologists and technicians need to be able to manage and lift animals.

Pay

The median annual wage for veterinary technologists and technicians was $35,320 in May 2019. 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 $24,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $51,230.

 

In May 2019, the median annual wages for veterinary technologists and technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $40,990
Veterinary services 34,990
Social advocacy organizations 34,980

Veterinary technologists and technicians working in research positions often earn more than those in other fields.

Veterinary technologists and technicians may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.

Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the number of households with pets and spending on pets continue to rise, demand is expected to increase for veterinary technologists and technicians to do laboratory work and imaging services on household pets.

Job Prospects

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 commitment required to enter the occupation (obtaining a degree and passing a credentialing exam).

Employment projections data for veterinary technologists and technicians, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Veterinary technologists and technicians 29-2056 112,900 131,200 16 18,300 Get data



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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm (visited February 05, 2020).

Salary information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, a semi-annual survey that provides wage and employment statistics for the nation, each state, and sub-state regions.


Written by Phillip

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