Do you love animals? Are you looking for a rewarding and challenging career? A career as a veterinary technician may be just what you’re looking for. Veterinary technicians help pets and pet owners alike by helping sick and injured animals. They aid veterinarians in private clinics and animal hospitals to provide the best care possible.
What Is a Veterinary Technician?
Veterinary technicians are instrumental in the care of animals. They assist veterinarians in diagnosing and treating animals in both private veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. What does assist mean, exactly? You can think of a veterinary technician in the same way you think of a nurse. They assist in patient care as well as the technical aspects of medicine. In fact, technicians can be involved with all aspects of animal care except for performing surgery, making a diagnosis, and prescribing medicines. This means performing medical procedures, assisting in surgeries, and discussing care with animal owners.
Veterinary technicians don’t do just one thing. They may work with small animals and household pets, or larger animals at farms, zoos, or horse breeding facilities. They may work at an animal hospital or clinic, dealing with sick animals on a day-to-day basis. Or, instead, they may work as a researcher in a laboratory, assisting scientists and veterinarians in finding treatments and diagnoses for various illnesses. There are career paths for people of all stripes who love animals and are looking for a challenging and rewarding career.
Vet Tech Job Description: Animal Hospital
So now that you have an idea of what a veterinary technician is, what is a vet tech job description? We’ll start off by walking through the day-to-day work of what you might first think of when you think vet: someone who works in an animal hospital or clinic and helps sick and injured pets and other animals. What does the job of a veterinary technician look like in this environment?
When you visit the doctor, a nurse will assess your reason for your visit and perform some initial tests such as taking your blood pressure or listening to your heart. In the same way, a veterinary technician performs these tasks on an animal. They are an integral part to animal care, whether the issue is an illness or injury.
When an injured or sick animal comes into an animal hospital, it is a veterinary technician who often starts the process of care. They will take the patient’s history, making note of the reason for the animal’s visit. Why is the animal there? Is this an isolated incident or part of ongoing care? The technician may perform a physical exam of the animal, acquiring information to pass onto the veterinarian. This physical exam may include listening to the animal’s heart, taking its temperature, and running lab tests, among other duties.
The vet tech will communicate the animal’s needs to a veterinarian. Depending on the illness or injury, a veterinary technician may be able to complete all portions of care. This career includes a wide range of duties which are instrumental to care of animals. Just some examples of a veterinary technician’s duties include the following:
Recording medical data
Prepping animals for surgery
Assisting in surgery
Informing owners of results of surgery and procedure
As just this initial list shows, the responsibilities of a vet tech are wide-reaching and instrumental. The job focuses on two sets of important roles. The first is to interact with the animal owners. This includes taking medical histories and updating pet owners on their animal’s health before and after a procedure or surgery. The second set, however, is a more technical side of the position. The technician has technical medical responsibilities such as drawing blood and injecting IVs. A career in veterinary technology is a great option for someone looking for both social and technical aspects to their job.
Other Vet Tech Career Paths
There is more to working as a vet tech, however, than working in a veterinary hospital. Though many jobs are centered in animal hospitals and clinics, there are other options as well for someone looking at other aspects of animal care. An education in veterinary technology, such as that offered at Vista College, will prepare you for whatever aspect of the field you wish to explore. There are many types of career opportunities available to someone educated in this field.
In addition to the work veterinary technicians do in clinics and animal hospitals assisting in the care of animals, some in this career also work in research positions. These positions could be located in universities or laboratories. The day-to-day activities of someone working in a research-related position is similar to that of someone in an animal hospital. They aid veterinarians or scientists and are responsible for caring for and handling animals with compassion.
Instead of dealing with a particular animal’s sickness or injury, however, a vet tech that works in a research-related position would instead be aiding a veterinarian or scientist in a specific field of research. These fields are varied but could include biomedical research, disaster preparedness, or food safety. These are great jobs for those with compassion for animals who are looking for a challenging and rewarding career.
Nutrition and Breeding
Another type of job you may have as a veterinary technician is a job in nutrition and breeding. Animals of all sizes, including those very small and those very large, have unique nutritional needs. Providing the correct type of nutrition for these animals ensures they live healthy lives. Training in and understanding these unique needs can prepare you to seek a career in animal nutrition.
There are also jobs available as a vet tech in animal breeding. This type of job can apply to animals of all shapes and sizes, but may be particularly applicable to farm and ranch animals such as cows and horses. This type of job is also needed at horse or other animal breeding facilities. If you prefer to work with larger animals as opposed to small household pets, there is plenty of work available to you.
These are just a few of the types of careers available to someone trained in a comprehensive program of veterinary technology. You can choose your specialization to fit your skillsets and interests. Learn about emergency medicine and diagnosis if you wish to work in an animal hospital. Prepare for a job in a research lab to help find long-term cures and diagnoses. Work in nutrition and breeding to care for animals big and small. A veterinary technician can work in animal hospitals, zoos, farms, ranches, labs, and more.
Important Qualities for a Vet Tech
If you’re wondering if a career as a veterinary technician is right for you, take a look at these qualities that make a great tech. Someone who possesses all or most of these qualities will excel in the field. Some of these qualities are innate, and some are learned over time. Schooling and time on the job will help nurture these skills and help you improve as a vet tech each day.
- Communication Skills. As a veterinary technician, a lot of time is spent talking with animal owners. It is key to be able to get an accurate patient history, as well as to be able to describe the treatment the animal needs. Someone with great communication skills can excel at this part of the job.
- Compassion. Veterinary technology is a field for those who love and care for animals. The job can have its ups and downs; dealing with injured, sick, or dying animals can be challenging. Compassion and sensitivity is necessary when working with animals, as well as when communicating with animal owners.
- Detail Oriented. When dealing with medical procedures, it is important to be detail oriented. Vet techs deal with a large amount of medical data for different patients. As such, it is important to maintain accuracy in reports and procedures to ensure the best care possible for each animal.
- Manual Dexterity. In addition to communicating with veterinarians and pet owners, vet techs also are responsible for dealing with animals directly and administrating care. This means duties such as drawing blood, taking X-rays, giving anesthesia, and handling medical instruments. A veterinary technician should have a steady hand in order to provide safe and accurate treatment for each animal requiring treatment.
No one is perfect in possessing all these qualities. But if you are willing to focus and improve on these four skills, a successful career as a vet tech could be yours.
If you love animals, becoming a veterinary technician is a great job for you. However, it also takes someone strong-willed enough to perform this job effectively. Animals can bite or scratch technicians who are caring for them. You should be prepared to act with compassion towards animals when administering treatment that may frighten them.
Aside from physical scratches and bites, this career can also take an emotional toll. It can be hard to see injured or sick animals, especially those that are abused or abandoned. This challenge of the job, however, is also what makes it so rewarding. Seeing animals that are hurt or injured can be difficult, but as a veterinary technician, you have a unique opportunity to help animals in need. You can make a difference in the lives of animals that are hurting the most.
Career Outlook for Vet Techs
It’s a great time to start a career as a vet tech because nationwide employment opportunities are growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities are growing faster than average. In fact, between 2012 and 2022, employment in the field is projected to grow 30 percent nationally. There are tons of new opportunities being created every day for new technicians, especially in rural areas.
As of May 2012, the average annual pay for vet techs was $30,290. Rate of pay can vary based on location of the job, as well as the specific job itself. For example, those working in research positions may have higher pay than those in other fields.
Finding a college with a comprehensive veterinary technology program is important to finding a fulfilling job. Through your program you can identify the aspects of the job you wish to focus on, be it research or emergency medicine. Career services at your college will help you decide the career path you want to pursue and assist you in searching for that job. Once you have chosen your particular career path, you can delve deeper into the career outlook for that specific field.
How to Become a Vet Tech?
You can start a vet tech career today by enrolling in an associate degree program in veterinary technology like the one offered at Vista College. An Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology can be earned in 80 weeks with full-time enrollment. Once the training has been completed, you will have all the necessary skills employers are looking for in veterinary fields.
In training to become a veterinary technician, you will receive plenty of hands-on laboratory experience. You will learn to treat sick and injured animals. Having this hands-on experience is instrumental to gaining the skills necessary to become a vet tech. You will not only learn the duties and procedures of the work, but you will also become more comfortable working directly with animals. You will continue to develop manual dexterity, as well as attention to detail, communication, and compassion.
Veterinary Technician Career
By earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology in as little as 80 weeks, you can be on your way to becoming a vet tech. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected this field to grow nationally so there are plenty of opportunities to be had. Whether you want to work with small animals or large, in a zoo or in a lab, there are myriad ways to work as a veterinary technician.
Programs such as that offered at Vista College offer a comprehensive program which prepares students for the many opportunities of being a veterinary technician. With hands-on experience integrated into the program, upon graduation you will have the skills employers are looking for. You will be well equipped with the qualities necessary to make a good vet tech: communication, compassion, manual dexterity, and attention to detail. If you love animals and are looking for a rewarding career, becoming a veterinary technician could be perfect for you.