Educational Requirements and Duties of a Veterinary Technician

A love of animals is the primary prerequisite to work in a veterinarian’s office. A veterinary technician must acquire a two year associate’s degree and achieve a passing grade on the National Veterinary Technician exam. Additionally, the various states have different exam requirements that must also be passed before credentials are issued. However, a veterinary assistant can obtain employment in a veterinarian’s office without such credentials. Therefore, it is possible for almost anyone who loves animals to find a way to work with them regardless of his or her background.

The duties of a veterinary technicians can vary, but usually include tasks such as performing routine lab tests, drawing blood from injured or sick animals, and collecting, skin and urine samples. Technicians may also be called upon to administer blood products, drugs or fluids as prescribed by the veterinarian on duty. They also maintain inventory and medical records. A vast array of administrative tasks are also completed by most veterinary assistants.

The American Veterinary Medical Assoc. must approve the schools that offer an education in the field of veterinary science. One can also enroll in online classes to prepare for employment in this field. However, it is important to understand that there are additional requirements such as clinical experience that must be satisfied before one is qualified to begin seeking employment. Clinical requirements can be fulfilled by employment at an animal hospital or through working as a volunteer at an animal shelter. In addition, videotapes must be submitted to the school which show the student’s interaction with animals before a degree is bestowed. The curriculum for students attending traditional classes also includes clinical experience.

Special certification is available for technicians who have demonstrated the appropriate skills. These include nutrition, surgery, equine nursing, neurology, oncology, internal medicine, cardiology, dentistry, critical and emergency care and anesthesiology. These can be divided even further into sub-specialties such as production animals, exotic animals, canine and feline. While veterinary assistants are not required to by law to prove a formal education, there is a Veterinary Assistant program that has been approved by the AVMA for those who successfully complete their educational in this field. Large practices may demand this type of certification for their workers; however, this will vary from practice to practice.

Veterinary technicians also assist the veterinarian with physical examinations and surgical procedures. They perform tasks such as taking the animal’s temperature, pulse, and respiration rate. They dress wounds, apply splints, flush ears and perform catheterizations. Their duties may also include provide numerous dental services. Both associates and technicians must be comfortable working with a variety of animals and regard the animal’s physical well-being as a basic right.

Employment can also be found in zoos, circuses, breeding facilities, large farms, animal shelters, and training or teaching venues. Outdoor and traveling positions are also available and salaries vary tremendously depending on a wide variety of factors. Those who obtain a four year degree can seek credentials as a veterinary technologist. Although performing similar duties, such individuals receive higher salaries and have the authority to make more decisions than those who hold a lesser degree.

Those who love animals and wish to work with them for a living should pursue a career in veterinary medicine. A great need exists for veterinary technicians and associates and because it is a relatively young discipline, opportunities will most likely grow significantly in the future.