Laboratory animal caretakers feed, water and monitor animals involved in research. They assist scientists and research veterinarians by holding animals during exams and procedures, administering medication and taking samples. Laboratory animal caretakers provide postoperative care and ensure animals are treated humanely. They also clean and disinfect cages, equipment and work areas.
Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally
Laboratory animal caretakers work in labs for the government, universities or private research firms. Work shifts may include nights, weekends and holidays. Part-time work is also available for this position.
Caring for laboratory animals carries the risk of infection, disease and injury. Animals may bite, scratch or kick. Work can be physically and emotionally stressful.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
DVM / VMD degree
Laboratory animal caretakers typically only need a high school diploma or equivalent. On-the-job training is provided. Some employers prefer an associate degree in animal science, biology or other related field.
Certification is available from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). There are three levels: Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) and Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG). Depending on the level, candidates must have from one to five years’ lab experience before taking the exam. Those with related two- or four-year degrees can apply with less experience.
Certification can assist you in advancing to higher-level technician and research assistant roles. Caretakers working at biotech and pharmaceutical firms may transition into roles as sales consultants.
Some laboratory animal caretakers pursue further education to become a veterinarian or research veterinarian. Others may prefer alternate career paths in science, research and medicine.