Veterinary technologists, under direction from a veterinarian, perform medical tests in a laboratory to diagnose animal illnesses and injuries. They take blood, urine and tissue samples and execute related tests such as urinalysis and blood counts. They also perform diagnostic tests, such as taking and developing X-rays, and assist veterinarians with exams and surgery, including administering anaesthesia to animals and maintaining appropriate dosage.
Nights and weekends possible
Veterinary technologists usually work full time in a laboratory environment. Though some work in clinics and animal hospitals, they are typically hired by research facilities, including pharmaceutical companies, zoos and university labs.
Technologists with customer service duties may have to work evening, weekend and holiday shifts.
Dealing with sick, injured and abused animals can be stressful for technologists. The job can also be physically demanding, with risks for scratches, kicks and bites when holding an animal. Technologists may also be exposed to contagions and potentially hazardous sterilisation and pharmaceutical chemicals.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
DVM / VMD degree
Veterinary technologists must complete a bachelor’s degree programme accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Students interested in pursuing veterinary technology should take biology and other science courses in high school. Some veterinary technologists also earn a master’s degree in a specialty, such as anaesthesia or zoological medicine.
Most technologists must also pass a credentialing exam, the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Check with your state’s licensing boards and regulatory agencies to determine any further registration or licensing requirements.
Veterinary technologists may work part time as veterinary assistants to gain experience while they earn their bachelor’s degree. The four-year degree opens opportunities for jobs in large practices and hospitals, with more responsibility and supervisory roles. Those who earn a master’s in a specialty field are more likely to land jobs in research roles at private, academic or government laboratories.
A master’s degree also allows you to take on teaching positions at a college or university, often with a research component. You may wish to pursue further education, earning a medical degree to practise as a veterinarian.