Working As A Vet Tech
Nature of the Work
Pet owners, zoos and aquariums expect excellent care from their veterinarians and thus to provide the optimal services, veterinarians use veterinary technicians and technologists to assist them, much as doctors use nurses in the medical field. Job duties vary depending on the employer, but generally technicians and technologists complete similar tasks for their employers even though there are differences in the formal education and training of the two titles. Most technicians work in private veterinary practices; but because of their additional education and training, technologists can choose to work in jobs that are more advanced research related.
Job Description of a Veterinary Technician and Technologist
Veterinary technicians and technologists usually work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. They are often required to perform skills such as venipuncture, or skin scrapings to treat and diagnose health concerns of the animals as well as performing various medical tests. Tests they conduct include blood work ups, urinalysis, and taking tissue samples. They may assist in dental care and surgeries and may be required to perform and maintain anesthesia. Other duties might include taking patient histories, expose and develop X-rays and radiographs, dressing wounds, applying splints, and taking vital signs. There are a variety of diagnostic tests which the veterinarian may rely on the technician or technologist to conduct. Experienced veterinary technicians may be expected to train new personnel in the clinic or discuss a health issue with a pet’s owner. In some practices they may be required to assist in administrative tasks such as maintaining treatment records and inventory records of supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals.
In most clinical private practices, the technician and technologist will assist in the care of small animals such as cats and dogs, but also may perform duties with animals such as cattle, horses, sheep, birds, mice and lizards. It is rare for a technologist to work in practices that care for both small pets and large wild animals.
Another area of work for technologists and technicians is research facilities. In these facilities veterinary technicians and technologists work under the supervision of veterinarians as well, but they may also be supervised by a physician. The job duties in this area of the field may include administering medications, and recording information about the animals such as diet, genealogy, food intake, and weight. They may be required to monitor and record signs of pain and distress in animals, sterilize surgical equipment and provide postoperative care. Veterinary technologists may be required to give an animal a vaccination or euthanize an animal.
In some instances, veterinary technologists assist in research projects that involve other scientists in medical-related fields. They can work in biomedical research, livestock management, pharmaceutical sales or wildlife medicine. There are increasing opportunities for technologists in the biosecurity and disaster preparedness jobs.
The job outlook for veterinary technicians and technologists is excellent as there is a need to replace those leaving the field and there are limited numbers of qualified technicians graduating The demand for the positions is not expected to be met in the period of 2008-2018 as the field is expected to grow at a much faster rate than the average.
The biggest factor in the expected growth rate of 36 percent is the attitude of pet owners. Pets are often considered part of the family and pet owners are becoming more affluent, knowledgeable and more willing to pay for advanced veterinary services for their pets. This is expected to continue to increase the demand for veterinary services and thus the increase in veterinary clinical practices that will need assistants.
It is expected for the number of pet owners utilizing veterinary services to grow and increase job opportunities. Advanced services such as surgical procedures or preventive dental care will provide more opportunities for those technicians and technologists who specialize in those areas. Demands for feline services and medicine are expected to rise as the number of cats as companions is steadily growing. It is expected animal shelters, humane societies, animal control facilities, boarding kennels, animal hospitals and clinics will want to replace veterinary assistants with highly skilled technicians which will further the demand for workers who are specialized in specific areas.