Veterinary Technologist and Technician
The last time your cat wasn't feeling well, you took her to the veterinarian's office and you met a kind professional who came out to take care of your cat. This professional is known as a veterinary technologist or veterinary technician. While these two professions are very similar, the main difference between the two is their education requirements.If you love animals, you could be a perfect fit for this profession. Veterinary technologists and technicians work with all kinds of animals at hospitals, pet shelters, rescue centers, and more. As a veterinary technologist or technician, you can mostly expect to care for cats and dogs, as well as less common pets like birds, rabbits, and mice. The compassion you have for animals will help you to be successful as you work with many different animals each day.Many veterinary technologists work in more advanced research-related jobs under the supervision of a scientist or veterinarian. If you wish to become one, you will work primarily in a laboratory setting where you will administer medications, prepare tissue samples for examination, and record information on an animal's genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain. The scientist or veterinarian you work for will count on the accuracy of your work to help compile important research publications with valuable discoveries.Veterinary technicians generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. As a veterinary technician, you will be responsible for various tasks like performing laboratory tests such as urinalyses and blood counts, taking and developing x-rays, administering anesthesia or medications, and preparing animals for surgery. In addition to these tasks, the veterinarian will also count on you to talk with animal's owners to discuss an animal's condition or any medications they may need to take.
Salaries and Job Outlook*
Education and Training
You must complete an accredited program in veterinary technology to become a veterinary technologist or technician. If you want to become a veterinary technician, you will need to complete a 2-year associate's degree program; to become a veterinary technologist, you will need to complete a 4-year bachelor's degree program. These programs include courses on radiology, nursing care including pre and post-surgical care, anesthesia, and client education. In addition to your degree, in most states you must pass a credentialing exam called the Veterinary Technician National Exam.Although it's not mandatory, many employers seek veterinary professionals that have certification. To become certified, you must have work experience in a laboratory animal facility and pass the AALAS examination. The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) offers three levels of certification: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG).
Valued Traits & Abilities
Where you work as a veterinary technologist or technician is entirely up to you. If you'd like to tend to mostly domestic animals like cats and dogs, you could work in a private clinic, an animal hospital, boarding kennel, or animal shelter. On the other hand, if you'd like to help other types of animals, you could work at a rescue league or zoo. Your schedule will vary, depending on the facility you work at. Many clinics or rescue leagues are staffed 24 hours a day, so you could be working evenings, weekends, and holidays.No matter where you work, your job can be physically and emotionally demanding. For instance, you may witness abused animals or may need to help euthanize sick, injured, or unwanted animals. It's important to stay as composed as you can when helping animals, because they feel and respond to your energy. If you're feeling nervous, they will sense it and react negatively, but if you're calm, chances are they will reciprocate the feeling.There is some risk involved when it comes to this job. Veterinary technologist and technicians have a higher rate of injuries than the national average due to the nature of their work. When working with scared or aggressive animals, you may be bitten, scratched, or kicked. It is not uncommon for injuries to happen when you're holding, cleaning, or restraining an animal.