Happy Veterinary Technician Week

What Is a Vet Tech Anyway?

Every year during the third week of October, we celebrate the Veterinary Technician profession. If you have ever visited a veterinary hospital or clinic you have almost certainly seen them, but how much do you really know about what a veterinary technician does on a normal (or not so normal!) day at work? Did you know that there are many more places in the job market for veterinary technicians other than in a clinic setting? In honor of Veterinary Technician Week, let’s take a closer look at what exactly working as a veterinary technician entails.

Where Did They Start?

Veterinary Technology as a profession began to first emerge in the 1960s. This was the first time that university level programs were available for the education of animal health technicians. The term “veterinary” was actually only used to describe Veterinarians exclusively until 1989 when the term “Veterinary Technician” was approved for official use. Even today with the Veterinary Nurse Initiative their title continues to evolve.

What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?

A veterinary technician is a sort of “jack of all trades” in the veterinary profession. On any given day, you can find a technician placing an IV, drawing blood and running the bloodwork, monitoring anesthesia for a surgical procedure, assisting in that surgical procedure, performing X-rays, cleaning kennels in the boarding area, assisting with checking clients in and out, calling to check in with a pet owner whose pet was recently discharged from the hospital, educating an owner about their options for parasite control, or simply comforting a distraught owner that is saying goodbye to their best friend.

These are only a few of the jobs that technicians can perform in one day.

Where Do Veterinary Technicians Work?

Clinics and hospitals are not the only place you can find veterinary technicians. There are a number of places that employ them! Universities and research facilities, the military, farms and livestock facilities, zoos and animal reserves, rehabilitation facilities, education, poison control centers, and much more!

What is Schooling Like?

While there are four-year Veterinary Technology programs that are offered by certain universities, most of the programs accredited by the American Veterinary Association are two-year Associates Degree programs. These programs often include not only in-classroom learning but also hands on experience both on campus and in clinical settings.

Are Veterinary Technicians Licensed?

Yes! Most states offer regulations for credentialing of technicians. Not only do they go through rigorous schooling, they must also pass the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination) in order to become licensed. Depending on the state, may find them referring to themselves with one of three titles:

LVT – Licensed Veterinary Technician

CVT – Certified Veterinary Technician

RVT – Registered Veterinary Technician

Can they specialize?

Also yes! If a technician is not satisfied with only their licensure and want to take the next step, there are plenty of options to specialize in certain areas of veterinary medicine. Some of these areas include:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Behavior
  • Emergency/Critical Care
  • Nutrition
  • Dentistry
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Zoo medicine
  • Anesthesia
  • Equine Medicine
  • Clinical Practice (areas such as canine/feline or exotics)

In order to obtain these specialties, technicians must generally have 3-5 years of experience in their chosen specialty field. They must also complete a log of case studies to demonstrate their knowledge in their area of study. Once this has been completed, they must also pass a certification exam in order to be recognized as a Veterinary Technician Specialist.

No matter where their specific interests lie, where they are employed, or how long they have worked in the field, one thing that all veterinary technicians have in common is what they are passionate about most– doing what is best for you and your pet!