What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?
Many people who are animal lovers dream of working in the veterinary field, and a lot of these people are surprised to find out that you do not necessarily need to become a full veterinarian in order to fulfill this dream. In fact, you will only need either an associates or a bachelor’s degree to become a vet tech, which is a lot more feasible for people.
Most of the time vet techs assist with physical exams and run tests that the vet can use to help their diagnosis later. In addition to this, vet techs also help sterilize exam and surgical rooms and equipment. Veterinary Technicians can also give first aid, administer medication, and give animals vaccinations.
In this article we will be explaining everything that a veterinary technician, or vet tech, is allowed to do in the veterinary workplace. We will also be answering some other commonly asked questions about being a vet tech as well such as how much do vet techs make and what education is needed to become a vet tech. Let’s get into it!
In order to become a vet tech you will need either an associates degree or a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Many colleges and universities offer degrees that are specifically for prospective vet techs. Once you have completed your schooling you will also need to take and pass an exam called the Veterinary Technician National Examination. This exam is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, and you will need to pass it before you get your veterinary technician license.
The VTNE will cover a variety of topics that are relevant to the veterinary technician job. These topics include dentistry, surgical preparation and assisting, pharmacy/pharmacology, animal care/nursing, laboratory procedures, anesthesia/analgesia, and diagnostic imaging. It is important to study all of these topics when preparing for the Veterinary Technician National Examination.
Most vet techs work in vet clinics, so we will be loosely describing what the typical work day for a vet tech working in a vet clinic looks like.
Most of what vet techs do during the day is assist veterinarians with surgeries and physical examinations. They do this by monitoring pets while they are under anesthesia and by restraining them during physical examinations. Many vet techs also ask pet owners questions that will help the vet make their diagnosis later.
When taking your pet to the vet the vet tech is often the person that you will first see when you are taken back to the exam room. Here they may ask you a few questions about your pet’s condition and get you ready for the vet. Vet techs often discharge patients as well and let you know when it is time to go make your payment and return home.
Another common daily task for vet techs is cleaning and making sure that equipment is working properly. Mainly vet techs are responsible for cleaning exam rooms, surgical rooms, and animal kennel areas.
Vet techs are allowed to give vaccines and administer medications as well, and sometimes this actually takes up a lot of their work day. This includes traditional vaccines, allergy shots, and more.
Some pet owners choose to get things like nail trims, ear cleanings, and teeth cleanings done at the vet. This is especially true if the pet is particularly difficult when the owner tries to do these things. Vet techs are usually responsible for any grooming that is done at the vet.
Another big part of a vet tech’s daily activities is taking blood and urine samples. These samples are taken and labelled by vet techs and then sent to the lab. Sometimes these lab tests are performed by vet techs as well.
We have already mentioned some of the most common day to day duties of a vet tech in a vet clinic, but these things are not the only duties that a vet tech may need to do throughout their career. Here is a brief list about some of the duties that we have mentioned in this article already.
- Cleaning and sterilizing rooms and equipment
- Ensuring that equipment is in working order
- Giving vaccinations
- Administering medication
- Assisting the vet with surgeries, physical exams, etc.
- Taking blood and urine samples, labelling them, and sometimes running lab tests
- Admitting and discharging patients
However, there can be much more to a vet tech job than just the above duties. Here are some other tasks that are included in the vet tech job description that may or may not be a part of their everyday job.
- Performing pet CPR
- Taking X-Rays
- Running EKGs and EEGs
- Run other tests such as ultrasounds and radiographs
Although most vet techs work at vet clinics and animal hospitals, these are not necessarily the only places that vet techs can work. In fact, vet techs can sometimes also work at zoos, animal shelters and rescue centers, animal sanctuaries, and research labs.
In the United States the average salary for a vet tech as of 2021 is $16.71 per hour or $30,391 per year. Of course, this will likely differ depending on which state you live in, and some states may pay more while others pay less. In addition to pay, most workplaces offer vet techs some benefits as well. These usually include disability insurance, a health savings account, parental leave, and pet insurance.
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About Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital
Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital has been a part of the Buffalo Grove community since 1969. Our veterinarians serve Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Palatine, and the surrounding areas with the best veterinary medicine year after year. Our commitment to pet health runs deep, and we’ve proven our skill and compassion by becoming an AAHA-accredited Animal Hospital, the highest accreditation veterinary practices can receive.