Job Description & Duties of a Vet Tech

Vet techs (veterinary technicians) are an important part of any veterinary office. Not to be confused with veterinary assistants, veterinary technicians perform specific jobs in the veterinary office and require training for the position. This article will outline what a vet tech is, what they do, how long training takes and what kind of education is required, as well as the potential for jobs in the field.

  1. Identification

    • A vet tech is an individual who works in a veterinarian's office and is trained in various skills to assist the veterinarian. A vet tech is somewhat like an animal nurse. They help take care of the animals and are qualified to perform certain procedures and tests, but may not treat or diagnose any animals without supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

    Function

    • A vet tech assists the veterinarian in various ways. Vet techs typically have skills to: take patient history, collect urine samples, provide treatment for routine concerns, record temperature, take and develop radiographs (x-rays), administer medication, dress wounds, and perform intravenous feedings and tube feedings. They may also brush teeth, clip nails and counsel owners on good health and nutrition for their animals. Most vet techs also assist in an administrative capacity, maintaining and filing records, handling inventory and providing up-keep of equipment in the office.

    Time Frame

    • The minimum education requirement to become a vet tech a two-year program accredited by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). This may or may not result in an associate degree, and some people may continue for a four-year bachelor's degree. For all students in any vet tech program, clinical experience is also required--an externship or practicum, which is typically a period of one to three months working in an established veterinary practice under a licensed veterinarian. After receiving the clinical hours, most candidates must also take the Veterinary Technician National Exam, or VTNE, to become properly licensed. Regulations for certification and licensing vary among states.

    Misconceptions

    • The greatest misconception about vet techs is that they are the same as veterinary assistants. In fact, a veterinary assistant does not have to be certified or licensed to practice and they cannot perform the wide range of duties and procedures that vet techs can. A vet assistant is there simply to assist the veterinarians and technicians in a very basic capacity and do not have the education necessary to administer medical care to animals.

    Potential

    • Most vet techs are employed in private veterinary offices, but there is a rapidly growing demand for vet techs in other employment opportunities. Vet tech graduates may find jobs in a biomedical research lab, zoos and wildlife refuges, humane societies, and veterinary supply sales, among others. Vet techs who acquire a four-year bachelor's degree have the most favorable job opportunities and higher salaries available.

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