Veterinary Professions Career Video: Veterinary Assistant, Veterinary Technician, Veterinarian

Veterinary Professions Career Video: Veterinary Assistant, Veterinary Technician, Veterinarian Transcript

If you love working with animals you might enjoy a job at a veterinary clinic. There are career opportunities for people with all levels of education, including veterinary assistants, veterinary technicians, veterinary technologists, and veterinarians.


Men and women who work in veterinary clinics are dedicated to helping sick and injured animals and to prevent disease in healthy animals. These positions include veterinary assistants, veterinary technicians, veterinary technologists, and veterinarians. Each of these jobs involves different levels of skill and training.

Job Skills and Duties

People who choose to work with animals are generally patient, sympathetic and compassionate. It also helps to be alert, with quick reflexes and good manual dexterity.

Veterinary assistants perform routine daily tasks, such as feeding and watering the animals, cleaning and disinfecting cages and work areas, and keeping the waiting room clean and neat. In some clinics, vet assistants are also trained to take a pet's pulse and temperature, prepare samples for lab tests and sterilize surgical equipment. Besides working in a clinic, veterinary assistants can also find jobs in animal shelters, pet stores, kennels and animal testing labs.

Veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists perform similar duties and both are often referred to as vet techs. States grant different titles, such as licensed vet tech (LVT), registered vet tech (RVT) or certified vet tech (CVT), however, they are all qualified for the same duties. Vet techs take patient histories, collect specimens, draw blood, take x-rays, run lab tests, assist in surgery, educate animal owners and supervise staff. In addition to veterinary clinics, vet techs can find employment in zoos, research institutes, government agencies and veterinary pharmaceutical sales.

A veterinary technician specialist (VTS) has passed a specialty certification exam in a field such as Emergency & Critical Care or Animal Dentistry. They usually work in large or specialty clinics.

Veterinarians are the professionals qualified to diagnose illness and injury, prescribe medications, vaccinate, treat wounds, set fractures and perform surgery. Veterinarians may specialize in large or small animals, exotic animals or a particular species.

Training Required

Veterinary assistants are not required to have training or be licensed. Some training programs are available through high schools and community colleges but most vet assistants are trained on the job.

Veterinary technicians hold associate's degrees in Veterinary Technology, while veterinary technologists hold bachelor's degrees in Veterinary Technology. Both technicians and technologists must pass state licensing exams. Vet techs with bachelor's degrees usually start at higher salaries.

Veterinarians are required to hold a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from an accredited four-year college of veterinary medicine and must pass a national board exam, in addition to their state exam, to obtain a license to practice.


For all levels of veterinary care it is important to have a passion for animals and animal health. This can be a very rewarding career no matter what level you obtain. Research and contact local clinics and colleges of your choice to find out if a career in veterinary care is right for you.


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