Veterinary technicians and technologists typically conduct clinical work in a private practice under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. These assistants often perform various medical tests, along with treating medical conditions and diseases in animals. For example, they perform laboratory tests such as urinalysis and blood counts, assist with dental prophylaxis, prepare tissue samples, take blood samples, and assist veterinarians as necessary.

While most duties performed by veterinary technicians and technologists are performed in clinical laboratory settings, many are not. For example, some veterinary technicians obtain and record animal patients’ case histories, expose and develop x-rays and radiographs, and provide specialized animal nursing care.

Veterinary technicians and technologists working for small-animal practitioners usually care for companion animals, such as cats and dogs. However, they can perform a variety of duties with mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, monkeys, birds, fish, and frogs. Very few veterinary technicians work in mixed animal practices, which care for both small companion animals and larger non-domestic animals.

Technicians and technologist usually begin work as trainees in routine positions under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Entry-level workers with an educational background which encompasses extensive hands-on experience with a variety of laboratory equipment, including diagnostic and medical equipment, typically require a short on-the-job training period.

Entry Level Education

Most entry-level veterinary technicians require a two-year associate degree from over 100 community or junior college programs which are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). In these programs, courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live animals. Over a dozen colleges around the country offer veterinary technology programs which are longer and culminate in a bachelor degree in veterinary technology. Several veterinary schools offer courses via online distance learning.

Paying for Veterinary School

Students in certified veterinary schools are eligible to receive financial aid from federal sources and other sources of free money to pay for this education. Additional alternative funding is available through unsecured Sallie Mae loans.

Making Connections as a Veterinarian Assistant

A veterinary assistant (veterinary technician and technologist) is an essential person in the treatment of animals, because the assistant is the right arm of a veterinarian. After completing entry level education requirements, graduates often have little difficulty finding employment considering it is the fastest growing career field in the animal care industry.