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Veterinary Technician

Veterinary technicians can work in private practices, clinics, animal hospitals, farms, and zoos, under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They are responsible for performing general animal health care (nursing) duties and tests. If you are a veterinary technician, you will have some clearly defined and repetitive tasks (e.g., weighing animals, giving vaccinations).


This job will require a two-year associate’s degree in veterinary technology. In addition, a state license or certification to be a veterinary technician is typically required by employers.

Previous Experience

Previous experience as a veterinary technician is preferred. Although many employers prefer that you have previous experience in the same or similar area of employment setting, it is strongly encouraged that you apply if you have the required education and skills!

Job Duties

  • Routine health care duties - including weighing animals and collecting blood, urine, and stool samples from animals.
  • Lifting, holding, or restraining animals for examination.
  • Prepare and administer medicine or vaccines to animals.
  • Perform medical or laboratory tests and take x-rays.
  • Prepare surgery equipment for the veterinarian.
  • Assisting the veterinarian before, during, and after surgeries - including holding medical instruments, moving or holding the animal as needed, or bandaging wounds.
  • Monitor animals as needed and alert the veterinarian to any changes.
  • Maintain cleanliness of kennels and other areas in the clinic.
  • Clean equipment and instruments.
  • Answer phones and schedule appointments if needed.
  • Your employer may also ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

For some jobs, it depends on whether you work mainly with the public (e.g., clients/customers) or just co-workers. For example, this job requires that you are able to work ‘Behind the Scene’. If you are working as a veterinary technician at a veterinary clinic or animal hospital where people bring their pets, you may not have to talk with customers on a regular basis, but you will be working near customers.  You may be required to speak with and interact with co-workers (e.g., other vet technicians or clinic staff) or take direction from your supervisor.


This job requires that you are able to work ‘Out of the Scene’. If you are working as a veterinary technician at a zoo or farm, you may not have to interact with the public. However, you may be required to speak with and interact with co-workers (e.g., other vet technicians or zoo/farm staff) or take direction from your supervisor.

Skills / Abilities

Science (Biology, Chemistry, Math, Pharmaceuticals) - Having knowledge of higher level biology, chemistry, and math will be helpful. Many of these skills and abilities will be provided by your college education. However, the foundation for this knowledge will begin with high school-level science and math courses.

Customer Service Skills - If you are working at a clinic where customers bring their pets, you will need to have customer service skills.  This includes being able to determine if the customer is satisfied, and to meet their needs. It requires the ability to calmly deal with high stress situations and upset animal owners. Displaying a pleasant and cooperative attitude is important.

Oral Expression - You will be required to speak clearly and effectively.

Written Expression - You will be required to write and spell correctly.

Reading Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to read, and follow written instructions and ideas.

Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to understand and follow verbal instructions and ideas.

Attention to Detail - It is important that you are able to be accurate and precise for this job, as you are dealing with an animal’s health and well-being.

Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your arms, hands, wrists, and fingers to use hand-held tools (e.g., brushes, vaccination needles, pincers, nail clippers).

Organization and Prioritization - This job requires the ability to clearly organize and categorize work priorities to complete your work.

Ability to follow Health and Safety Procedures – Working as a veterinary technician requires that you closely follow safety rules and procedures. This job may expose you to the possibility of bites, scratches, bruises (from being kicked) and other animal related issues (e.g., fleas, ticks). You will need to be able to follow these health and safety rules for the safety of yourself, your co-workers, and the animals.

Environmental Demands

Location - Veterinary clinics are located indoors in a climate-controlled setting. However, you may have to take some animals outside for fresh air or a walk. If you work on a farm or in a zoo setting, you will be required to do some tasks outdoors.

Noise Level - The noise level will usually be low to moderate. You will need to be okay with the sounds that animals make, including barking, growling, meowing, hissing, and whining.

Lighting Level - Veterinary clinics may use florescent lighting or moderate (regular) lighting.

Work hours - This job will have varying work shifts. It will depend on your employer how many hours per day or week you are employed. You may work full time hours (8 hours a day) or part-time hours (4-6 hours per day). Although clinics may only be open from 9am - 5pm, your employer may need someone to be on duty at night to watch over the animals. You will have to let your employer know what types of shifts you can work (e.g., mornings, afternoons, nights).

Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you be able to sit, stand, walk, bend, reach, lift, hold, and carry items for this job. For example, you may need to lift a large dog onto a table and then restrain them while the veterinarian examines them.

Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting can get messy. You will need to be okay with the smell of and working with fluids and other substances such as animal drool (saliva), blood, urine, stool, and vomit. Part of your job will include keeping the work area and surrounding areas clean and tidy.

Work Attire - Work attire will typically be a uniform (e.g., medical scrubs), latex gloves, and certain types of shoes (e.g., tennis shoes or other easily washable shoes).

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a lower degree of predictability and structure.  This means that you might not do the same tasks each day, and these tasks might be completed in a different order each day.  You might not always know ahead of time how long each task will take to complete.  Although you might work in the same areas or location each day, you might not interact with the same customers (i.e. particularly animals and their owners) each day. 

What's the Pace?

    • Steady: In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that there will always be customers (e.g., animals and their owners) to see or animals that need to be monitored and taken care of. There may be 1-2 customers waiting for you to see them.
    • Peak: There might be other times when there are many (5-6) customers waiting to be seen. This may be a more stressful period because customers will be waiting or there will be animals that need constant monitoring.
    • Slow:  There may also be some "down time," when there are very few customers waiting to be seen or animals to take care of.  This may be a more boring period, where you are required to just wait for customers.

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