|2015 Median Pay||$31,800 per year / $15.29 per hour|
|Entry Level Education||Associate's degree|
|Number of Jobs, 2014||95,600|
|Job growth, 2014-24||19% (much faster than average)|
Nature of the Work
Owners of pets and other animals today expect superior veterinary care. To provide this service, veterinarians use the skills of veterinary technicians, who perform many of the same duties for a veterinarian that a nurse would for a physician.
Veterinary technicians typically conduct clinical work in a private practice under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Veterinary technicians often perform various medical tests and treat medical conditions and diseases in animals. For example, they may perform laboratory tests such as urinalysis and blood counts, assist with dental care, prepare tissue samples, take blood samples, and assist veterinarians in a variety of other diagnostic tests. Some veterinary technicians record patients’ case histories, expose and develop x-rays and radiographs, and provide specialized nursing care. In addition, experienced veterinary technicians may discuss a pet’s condition with its owners and train new clinic personnel. Veterinary technicians assisting small-animal practitioners usually care for small pets, such as cats and dogs, but can perform a variety of duties with mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, monkeys, birds, fish, and frogs. Some veterinary technicians work in mixed animal practices where they care for both small pets and large, domestic animals.
Besides working in private clinics and animal hospitals, some veterinary technicians work in research facilities under the guidance of veterinarians or physicians. In this role, they may administer medications, prepare samples for laboratory examinations, or record information on an animal’s genealogy, diet, weight, medications, food intake, and clinical signs of pain and distress. Some may sterilize laboratory and surgical equipment and provide routine postoperative care. Occasionally, veterinary technicians may have to euthanize seriously ill, severely injured, or unwanted animals.
While people who love animals get satisfaction from helping them, some of the work may be unpleasant, physically and emotionally demanding, and sometimes dangerous. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that full-time veterinary technicians experienced a work-related injury and illness rate that was much higher than the national average. At times, veterinary technicians must clean cages and lift, hold, or restrain animals, risking exposure to bites or scratches. These workers must take precautions when treating animals with germicides or insecticides. The work setting can be noisy. In some animal hospitals, research facilities, and animal shelters, a veterinary technician is on duty 24 hours a day, which means that some work night shifts. Most full-time veterinary technicians work about 40 hours a week, although some work 50+ hours a week.
Employment of veterinary technicians is expected to grow 19 percent nationally over the 2014-2024 projection period. A growing pet population will require more veterinary technicians. As veterinarians perform more specialized tasks, clinics and animal hospitals are increasingly using veterinary technicians to provide more general care and do laboratory work. In May 2014, there were approximately 95,600 veterinary technicians employed nationwide.
Median annual wages nationally of veterinary technologists and technicians were $31,800 in May 2015. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $21,890 and the top 10 percent earned more than $47,410.