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Licensed Veterinary Technician: Job Duties and Requirements

Licensed veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in conducting tests and analyses on pets and other animals with medical and diagnostic equipment. Learn about the education requirements, necessary skills, employment outlook and salary, to see if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Licensed Veterinary Technician

Licensed veterinary technicians work under a veterinarian's supervision and perform clinical work in private practices and medical clinics. Technicians are responsible for observing behavior and the animal's condition, providing emergency first aid, collecting lab samples and performing lab tests. They are also responsible for talking to the owners about the animal's condition and medication. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also states that they are responsible for administering medication and vaccines, as well as preparing animals for surgery (www.bls.gov).

Required Education Bachelor's degree or associate's degree in veterinary technology
Necessary Skills Compassion, passion for animals and their care, ability to work under pressure, multitasking
Median Salary (2017)* $33,400 (for all veterinary technicians and technologists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 20% (for all veterinary technicians and technologists)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, www.avma.org, a licensed veterinary technician must graduate from an AVMA-accredited program. AVMA programs will generally lead to an associate's degree in veterinary technology, but 4-year bachelor degrees are available.

Licenses and Certification

While the licensure requirements for veterinary technicians vary by state, most candidates are required to complete the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) to become licensed. To be applicable for the exam, students must complete a veterinary technology program accredited by the American or Canadian Veterinary Medical Association; however, some states offer on-the-job training or alternative pathways to the VTNE.

Important Skills

Communication skills are important because licensed veterinary technicians will interact with doctors and pet owners every day. They must have a passion for animals and their care as well. The ability to work under pressure and multitask is also needed.

Career and Economic Outlook

Many licensed veterinary technicians work in private practice, but because the demand for technicians is increasing, employment can be found in zoos, research labs, universities, humane societies and feed manufacturing companies. From 2016-2026, the BLS projected veterinary technologist and technician jobs would grow by 20%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. According to the BLS in 2017, veterinary technicians and technologists earned a median salary of $33,400 per year.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a veterinary technician will help prepare you for careers in other areas

Veterinary Assistant and Laboratory Animal Caretaker

Only a high school education is necessary for this career, although prior experience with animals would be beneficial. These assistants and caretakers learn their skills for performing routine care tasks for nonfarm animals in hospitals, clinics and laboratories while on the job and are supervised by veterinary techs, scientists or veterinarians. The BLS predicted much faster than average job growth of 19% for this occupation, from 2016-2026. The median salary for these assistants and caretakers was $26,140 in 2017.

Veterinarian

About 8 years of education are required, along with earning a state license, to become a vet who treats and researches animal medical conditions. Much faster than average employment growth of 19% was expected from 2016-2026, according to the BLS. Veterinarians earned a median salary of $90,420 in 2017, per the BLS.

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