Animal & Pet Health Technician: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Research the educational and skill requirements needed to become an animal and pet health technician, as well as the job description and employment and salary outlook. Read on to decide if this career is right for you.

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Job Description for Animal and Pet Health Technicians

Animal and pet health technicians typically work closely with veterinarians, assisting with treatments for pet health issues. Animal and pet health technicians perform nursing, dental, pre- and post-operative, lab and clinical tasks under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Animal and pet health technicians have a wide range of job duties, serving and assisting vets in many procedures, ranging from trimming animals' nails to providing support during surgeries.

Most jobs in animal and pet medicine are with individual vets' offices, animal hospitals, humane societies or animal shelters. According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), animal and pet health technicians can specialize as vet tech anesthetists, dental techs, internal medicine techs, emergency care techs or veterinary behavior techs.

Education Associate's degree
Job Skills Compassion and sensitivity with animals and people, desire to help animals, ability to work well with others, attention to detail, manual dexterity
Median Salary (2015)* $31,800 (for veterinary technologists and technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% (for veterinary technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Animal and pet health technicians must earn an associate's degree by completing one of the nearly 200 programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Individuals interested in earning a degree as a veterinary technologist must earn a bachelor's degree in the field. Some animal and pet health technician programs allow for distance learning. Additional training in animal and pet medicine is needed for specialization in areas like dentistry or emergency care. Animal and pet health technicians study math, clinical lab procedures, English and science.

Licensing Requirements

Animal and pet health technicians must also pass state licensing exams. Although specific requirements vary by location, the majority of state requirements are satisfied by the successful completion of the Veterinary Technician National Examination.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that animal and pet health technicians must have the following qualities:

  • Compassion and sensitivity when working with pets and speaking to their owners
  • A desire to help animals
  • Ability to work well with others, assisting in procedures that require cooperation and close physical proximity
  • Attention to detail and manual dexterity

Employment and Salary Outlook

Animal and pet health technicians can look forward to a positive economic outlook. The BLS reported an expected growth of 19% for veterinary technologist and technician careers between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for veterinary technicians and technologists was $31,800 in May 2015.

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