How to Be Veterinary Technician/Technologist - Job Description, Skills, and Interview Questions

Veterinary technicians/technologists play a vital role in providing quality veterinary care by performing diagnostic tests, collecting and analyzing samples, and monitoring animals’ vital signs. This is especially important for detecting and preventing serious illnesses and diseases that can affect animals’ health. Furthermore, as veterinary technicians/technologists are knowledgeable about animal anatomy and physiology, they can recognize signs of discomfort and pain, helping to diagnose and treat animals more quickly. As a result, owners can benefit from the reduced cost of treatment, improved animal health and comfort, and increased trust in their veterinarian.

Steps How to Become

  1. Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. Most veterinary technician/technologist programs require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission.
  2. Research accredited veterinary technician/technologist programs. Veterinary technician/technologist programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Many employers prefer candidates who have completed an accredited program.
  3. Enroll in a veterinary technician/technologist program. Veterinary technician/technologist programs typically include courses in animal anatomy and physiology, animal nutrition and diet, diagnostic imaging, anesthesia and pharmacology, laboratory procedures, surgical assisting, clinical pathology and parasitology.
  4. Complete an externship or internship. Most vet tech/technologist programs include an externship or internship component in which students gain hands-on experience at a veterinary clinic.
  5. Obtain licensing or certification. Requirements vary by state, but generally include passing a state-administered exam as well as fulfilling any other requirements set by the state's veterinary medical board.
  6. Pursue membership in a professional organization. Professional organizations such as the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America offer members access to continuing education opportunities, career resources and networking opportunities.

Becoming a qualified Veterinary Technician/Technologist requires a combination of education, experience, and specialized training. The first step is to obtain the necessary education, typically an Associate's degree in Veterinary Technology from an accredited college or university. This will provide students with the fundamental knowledge they need to understand the basics of animal care and medical practice.

To gain experience, students can volunteer or gain part-time paid work at a local animal clinic or veterinarian office. Finally, to become fully certified, students must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination and receive a state license. Once all these steps are completed, a Veterinary Technician/Technologist will be fully qualified to provide medical care for animals and assist Veterinarians in their practice.

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Job Description

  1. Pre-Exam Technician: Assists veterinarians in the examination and care of animal patients.
  2. Laboratory Technician: Performs diagnostic tests, such as urinalysis, blood counts, microbial cultures, and histopathology.
  3. Radiology Technician: Operates radiographic equipment to take X-rays of animals.
  4. Anesthesia Technician: Prepares patients for surgery and monitors vital signs during anesthesia.
  5. Surgical Technician: Assists veterinarians during surgery by providing supplies and instruments.
  6. Pharmacy Technician: Fills prescriptions, prepares intravenous fluids, and mixes medications.
  7. Animal Behavior Technician: Monitors and evaluates behavior in animals and provides recommendations to owners.
  8. Nutrition Technician: Recommends nutritional plans for animals, including the appropriate balance of vitamins and minerals.
  9. Emergency & Critical Care Technician: Monitors vital signs and administers treatments in emergency situations and critical care units.
  10. Dentistry Technician: Prepares patients and assists veterinarians in dental procedures, such as polishing teeth and extracting teeth.

Skills and Competencies to Have

  1. Knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology
  2. Ability to diagnose medical conditions
  3. Ability to administer medications, vaccines and treatments
  4. Knowledge of laboratory procedures
  5. Ability to take vital signs and perform basic physical exams
  6. Knowledge of radiology protocols
  7. Knowledge of surgical techniques and post-operative care
  8. Ability to provide client education
  9. Knowledge of pharmacology
  10. Knowledge of nutrition and animal diets
  11. Ability to recognize and respond to animal behavior
  12. Ability to maintain accurate medical records
  13. Ability to recognize and respond to health and safety issues
  14. Ability to work with a variety of animals
  15. Ability to work as part of a veterinary team

Being a Veterinary Technician or Technologist requires a wide range of skills, but the most important skill to have is the ability to think critically and problem-solve. In order to provide the best care for animals, they must be able to identify issues, analyze the situation, and develop appropriate solutions. This requires a deep understanding of animal anatomy and physiology, as well as medical treatments and procedures.

the ability to effectively communicate with both the animal and their owners is essential. Veterinary Technicians and Technologists must possess strong interpersonal skills in order to build trust, provide support, and educate pet owners on proper care and treatments. Lastly, they must have excellent organizational skills in order to keep accurate records and documents related to the animal’s care.

With these skills combined, Veterinary Technicians and Technologists are able to provide the highest quality care for animals in need.

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Frequent Interview Questions

  • What experience do you have working as a Veterinary Technician/Technologist?
  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • Describe a typical day as a Veterinary Technician/Technologist.
  • What challenges have you faced when dealing with animals?
  • What techniques do you use to remain calm and professional when dealing with difficult or impatient pet owners?
  • What was the most challenging case you have worked on as a Veterinary Technician/Technologist?
  • Describe the process of obtaining and maintaining certification as a Veterinary Technician/Technologist.
  • How do you stay up-to-date on new developments in veterinary medicine?
  • What would you do if faced with an ethical dilemma while assisting in a veterinary procedure?
  • What do you think is the most important aspect of being a successful Veterinary Technician/Technologist?

Common Tools in Industry

  1. Veterinary Medical Records Software. A software for tracking and managing patient information, treatments, tests, and medical history. (eg: VetConnect)
  2. Veterinary X-Ray Machine. A diagnostic imaging tool used to capture images of the internal structures of animals. (eg: GE OEC 9900 Elite)
  3. Animal Restraint Equipment. Tools used to safely immobilize animals during examinations and treatments. (eg: Ketch-All Animal Restraining Device)
  4. Surgical Instruments. A variety of specialized instruments used to perform surgical procedures. (eg: Mayo Scissors)
  5. Imaging Equipment. Equipment used to capture images of an animal's anatomy for diagnostics and/or surgeries. (eg: Ultrasound Machines)
  6. Medication Dispensers. Devices used to accurately measure and dispense medication for animals. (eg: IDEXX Procyon Automated Dispenser)
  7. Veterinary Laboratory Equipment. Tools used to analyze samples from animals in order to diagnose diseases or monitor health. (eg: Abaxis VetScan Chemistry Analyzer)
  8. Microscopes. Instruments used to magnify small objects to view them in detail. (eg: Olympus CX31 Microscope)

Professional Organizations to Know

  1. National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)
  2. Academy of Veterinary Medical Technicians (AVMT)
  3. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  4. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)
  5. American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB)
  6. International Veterinary Information Service (IVIS)
  7. National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME)
  8. Veterinary Technician Educators Association (VTEA)

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Common Important Terms

  1. Animal Care. This is the general care of animals, including the provision of food, shelter and medical care.
  2. Veterinary Medicine. Veterinary medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases in animals.
  3. Veterinary Pathology. Veterinary pathology is the field of medicine that deals with the study of diseases in animals.
  4. Veterinary Radiology. Veterinary radiology is the use of x-rays to diagnose and treat diseases in animals.
  5. Veterinary Surgery. Veterinary surgery is the branch of veterinary medicine that deals with performing surgeries and other medical procedures on animals.
  6. Veterinary Anesthesiology. Veterinary anesthesiology is the branch of veterinary medicine that deals with the administration of anesthesia and pain management to animals undergoing medical procedures.
  7. Animal Behavior. Animal behavior is the study of how an animal acts, interacts with its environment and responds to stimuli.
  8. Animal Nutrition. Animal nutrition is the science of providing proper nutrition to animals in order to maintain their health and well-being.
  9. Veterinary Pharmacology. Veterinary pharmacology is the branch of veterinary medicine that deals with the use and prescription of drugs for animals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the expected job growth for Veterinary Technicians/Technologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Veterinary Technicians/Technologists is projected to grow 19% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What is the average salary for Veterinary Technicians/Technologists?

The median annual wage for Veterinary Technicians/Technologists was $35,320 in May 2019.

What type of education and training is required to become a Veterinary Technician/Technologist?

Most employers require Veterinary Technicians/Technologists to have at least an associate's degree in veterinary technology from an accredited community college or technical school. In addition, most states require Veterinary Technicians/Technologists to be licensed or certified.

What are the primary duties of a Veterinary Technician/Technologist?

Veterinary Technicians/Technologists typically perform a variety of tasks including collecting and processing laboratory specimens, administering medications and vaccinations to animals, providing nursing care, and assisting veterinarians with medical and surgical procedures.

What type of environment do Veterinary Technicians/Technologists typically work in?

Veterinary Technicians/Technologists typically work in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, or laboratories. They may also work in research facilities or shelters.

Web Resources

  • Veterinary Technology | Mercy College - The …
  • Veterinary Technician - Metropolitan Community College
  • Bachelor Degree in Veterinary Technology – Vet Tech
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