Not sure which veterinary technician career to pursue? With quite a variety of specializations to choose from, it’s no wonder you might be confused about which one is right for you. On the other hand, you may have one in particular that you’re drawn to but you’d like to find out more. Regardless of where you are in your decision-making process, you’ve come to the right place! Below we’ve summarized a few of the vet tech careers available to you – and we hope this information helps you to find your perfect job in the veterinary world!
As a vet tech anesthetist, you would train to assist registered vets / surgeons with medical procedures that require an animal to be sedated. This could include anything from doing a simple operation on a pet, to more advanced surgeries like hip or joint replacements, to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities such as performing a root canal on a Bengal tiger!
The day-to-day tasks of this veterinary technician career are examining and preparing patients for anesthetic, administering anesthesia and other fluids, supervising ventilation, observing patients as they wake up from their procedure, post-anesthesia monitoring and maintaining anesthesia equipment.
By choosing this specialization, you are able to take part in life-changing surgeries that can improve your patient’s quality of life, rid them of pain or discomfort and even save their lives. Talk about a rewarding job!
If you have a special love for horses, this is the veterinary technician career for you. Alongside a registered equine vet (a vet who cares only for horses), you would conduct general health checks, treat patients and even perform surgeries. Other duties may include administering medication, giving injections, running lab tests, dressing wounds, taking x-rays, jogging horses to check for lameness, preparing patients for surgery, maintaining medical records and restraining a horse for a physical exam to avoid injury (for both the patient and the vet examining it!)
Although you’d spend your life treating only one kind of animal, this specialization still offers a lot of challenges and excitement; the perfect opportunity if you have a passion for these beautiful creatures and want to experience something new every day on the job.
Never heard of this veterinary technician career? It’s not one that’s often mentioned, but it’s becoming an increasingly popular field to specialize in – for good reason.
Vet behavior techs are trained in monitoring, modifying and coaching (you guessed it!) animal behavior. If you have a passion for psychology, this may be the right field for you, as it involves understanding what causes an animal to act in a certain way, and how to rectify this behavior if it becomes a problem.
The tasks of this particular job depend largely on where you work, however your duties may involve anything from helping with puppy/kitten obedience classes and giving lectures / demonstrations in animal behavior to the public, to socializing frightened animals and helping to treat or modify a negative behavior (for example, separation anxiety).
This veterinary technician career is a special one; not only can you help animals reach their full potential socially, you can give neglected and abused animals a new lease on life and get their true personalities to shine.
If you have a passion for larger exotic animals, you might consider becoming a zoo vet tech. This veterinary technician career, which concentrates on caring for zoo animals, along with a zoo veterinarian, is an exciting option for those of you who may want to experience life a little more on the ‘wild’ side! You would get the chance to work with all kinds of animals (monkeys, bears, tigers, penguins, etc) by conducting physical exams, collecting samples for lab testing, taking x-rays, giving injections, dressing wounds and assisting in surgeries. No doubt, you’d have many interesting stories to share with people you meet!
Although it is most definitely a stimulating career choice, bear in mind that you may have to work on weekends or at night (depending on the schedule of the vets you work with) and you will also need to be especially cautious and knowledgeable of the risks you’ll be taking by coming into contact with wild animals, especially if they aren’t sedated.
This veterinary technician career is not for the fainthearted – as a vet tech trained in the nutrition of animals, you will often come in contact with animals that have lost weight due to illness or have been neglected and are therefore undernourished. As sad as this is, you also have the opportunity to really make a difference in your patients’ lives!
Your responsibilities will vary depending on where you work, but most probably will include conducting nutritional assessments, scoring the body condition of an animal, prescribing dietary plans (and giving advice to owners), taking samples from patients for evaluation, running lab tests, prescribing and administering medication, monitoring a patient’s progress and updating medical files.
Probably the best part of this job is that you will see a huge physical change as your patients get better and know that it was your care that enabled them to flourish!
Like it’s job title suggests, this veterinary technician career is all about giving emergency medical care to animals that are suffering from an urgent medical crisis; for example, a patient that has been run over by a vehicle, poisoned, injured, burned or even abused.
As a vet emergency & critical care tech, you would take x-rays, clean and dress wounds, apply casts, administer injections or intravenous fluids, handle surgical equipment, stabilize and monitor vitals and give care to your patients while they recover from their traumatic incident. Time is often of the essence, and you’ll need to keep calm in stressful, pressurized (and even upsetting) situations so that you can focus on saving your patient from their potentially life-threatening condition. Even when the initial panic is over, your patient may need constant monitoring if their situation is critical.
Because of the nature of this work, you may be required to be on call during evenings and weekends, but this is a small price to pay when you consider the amazing work you’ll be doing; caring for animals when they need it most. And if saving lives wasn’t enough incentive, think of the people you’ll be making very happy when they find out their special pets are going to be OK. Without a doubt, this is an incredible career choice! As one emergency & critical care vet tech says, “We don’t always win, but when we do, it’s amazing!”
If you enjoy Grey’s Anatomy but love animals more, why not consider a career as a vet surgical tech? Your day-to-day duties would include running pre-op lab tests, placing catheters, taking x-rays, sterilizing surgical sites for procedures, handing the necessary surgical equipment to the vet throughout an operation, bandaging a surgical incision and changing dressings post-surgery. You may also need to give injections, draw blood, administer medicine / fluids, clean and look after surgical equipment, draw blood, update patient charts, give advice to owners on post-surgery care and treatment and, when there aren’t any surgeries, assist the vet with routine check-ups and physical examinations.
Working as a vet tech surgeon is challenging and exciting; it’s also a very rewarding career to pursue because of all the animals’ lives you’d help to improve – or even save! If you would love to make this kind of an impact on your patients’ lives, this may be the perfect profession for you (as long as you don’t faint at the sight of blood!)
This vet tech career is an interesting one; it focuses on working with pet owners to cure or treat a medical condition or disease (you would need to advise them on how to care for their animals at home). This may be a short-term treatment (for example, an infection) or long-term (cancer).
On a typical day as an internal medicine vet tech, you might use lab equipment, draw blood for blood tests, analyze samples in a lab, (e.g. urine samples) to diagnose conditions or diseases, checking that your patient’s internal systems are functioning correctly (i.e. circulatory, digestive, immunity, etc.) doing ultrasounds and determining the cause of the problem/condition.
You will have to be brave to choose this specialization – one of the challenges of your job would be delivering bad news to owners about their pet’s test results, especially if the likelihood of their pet surviving is slim. However, as an internal medicine vet tech, you also have the potential to restore animals back to full health and help them feel ‘their old selves’ again, which is incredible to see and be a part of.
What’s more, there are numerous sub-specialties within internal medicine that you can choose to pursue, in order to find your little niche. These include:
As a vet oncology tech, you would care for animals suffering from cancer, alongside a registered vet. Your job description would include scheduling patients for chemotherapy or other treatments, preparing them for these procedures and explaining to the owners what the treatment entails.
This specialization involves caring for animals (usually dogs or cats) with heart conditions or diseases. As a vet tech qualified in this field, you would help the vet with running tests such as ECGs, taking x-rays, doing heart scans, monitoring blood pressure and even assisting in heart surgery.
As a veterinary neurology tech, your job would be to help care for animals suffering from nerve or brain conditions/disease. These may include tumours, epilepsy, long-term brain/nerve disorders, seizures and even brain damage as a result of being hit by a car. You would help the vet by performing scans, doing internal biopsies, managing surgical equipment and running/analyzing tests in a lab.
• Small Animal Medicine
This field focuses on internal medicine (explained more in-depth above) for cats, dogs and other ‘small’ animals.
• Large Animal Medicine
Again, this job description involves specializing in internal medicine for larger types of animals, such as horses, cows and other farm animals.
This is a great career for you if you love solving problems. As a vet tech pathologist, you would investigate the cause of death and sickness in animals. You would therefore be working with both dead and living animals. As part of your job, you would take samples (blood, urine, etc.) from your patient, run lab tests to determine health problems / cause of death or disease, help with biopsies and necropsies, operate microscopes and other lab equipment, assist in autopsies, as well as clean medical equipment used in these procedures.
As a clinical practice vet tech, a lot of your job will involve nursing care, therapy regulations and case management. You might also have to help the vet by maintaining medical equipment, administering fluids to patients, providing pre-op and post-op care and giving your opinion during evaluations of the animals’ progress. Another veterinary technician career available to you is a clinical practice vet tech. Within this field, there are three areas of expertise for you to choose from:
1. Canine/feline (cats and dogs)
2. Exotic companion animal (birds, small mammals and reptiles)
3. Production animal (cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, etc)
The great thing about this career choice is that you can devote your time and energy to caring for animals that you have a particular ‘soft spot’ for. For instance, if you have a special love for dogs and cats, you needn’t spend any of your time working with any other animal. Although this career sounds quite technical (maybe even boring), it’s far more exciting than it seems. Not only do you get to work with the animals you most love, each day is different, giving you an exciting and stimulating career.
If you have a passion for birds, then this is definitely the career for you!
Avian vet techs assist vets by conducting physical assessments of their patients, grooming (ear cleaning, wing trimming, nail clipping and cleaning the beak), doing x-rays, caring for wounds, splinting, looking at samples under the microscope, advising owners on proper care and nutrition for their birds and assisting with surgery.
These are just a few of the tasks that an avian vet tech would get to perform – and again, the fantastic thing about choosing this field as your specialization is that you get to care for a particular type of animal you feel a special connection to.
As you can see, there are so many fields to choose from – you might even be more confused now than you were before!
If you aren’t naturally drawn to one particular field, we suggest you get a piece of paper and a pen and ask yourself the following questions:
• What am I interested in? (think of your hobbies and what you are passionate about as a person)
• What do I want out of my job? (i.e. what would make me really enjoy my job?)
• What are my unique skills and talents?
• Bearing all of the above in mind, in which field/s am I best able to care for animals?
Once you’ve answered these questions, have a look at what you’ve written. Sometimes only once you see what you’ve jotted down do all the jumbled thoughts in your head become clearer. Hopefully, your answers to these questions will help you to narrow your options or, better yet, pinpoint one veterinary technician career that best suits you.
If there is one piece of advice we can offer, it’s this:
Choose a specialization you think you’ll love – and all the rest will fall into place!