What is a Vet Tech?

A Veterinary Technician is a professional who supports Veterinarians in animal care. They are also known as a ‘vet tech’. Find out more about this career path, including job outlook and salary information.

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Job Description

A Veterinary Technician is a vital part of any Veterinary team. They are responsible for providing medical care to animals, as well as assisting the veterinarian with various procedures. They must have a thorough knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology, as well as the ability to maintain a sterile environment.


The majority of a vet tech’s day is spent caring for animals. This includes everything from feeding and bathing to exercising and administering medication. vet techs also take vitals, assist in surgeries, collect lab samples and run diagnostic tests. In addition to hands-on patient care, vet techs also educate pet owners on preventative health care, animal husbandry and general care. They may also be responsible for ordering supplies, maintaining records and scheduling appointments.


The most important skill that a veterinary technician has is the ability to handle and restrain animals. This is necessary for the safety of both the animal and the veterinarian or veterinary technician during examinations and procedures. Restraining techniques vary depending on the size and temperament of the animal, and it is important for veterinary technicians to be familiar with a variety of techniques. For example, large animals such as horses may need to be restrained with ropes or straps, while small animals such as cats may need to be held in your arms or placed in a special restraint device.

Education and Training

A vet tech is a medical professional who works with animals. They are responsible for the care and treatment of sick and injured animals. Vet techs typically work in veterinary clinics and hospitals, but some may also work in research facilities or zoos. To become a vet tech, you will need to complete a two-year associate’s degree in veterinary technology.


Vet techs with a certificate have completed a CAAHEP or AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program. These programs typically take two years to complete and include coursework in clinical subjects such as diagnostic imaging, dentistry, anesthesiology, and surgery.3 Many certificate programs also include supervised clinical experience in which students work alongside licensed veterinarians and other veterinary technicians.

Associate’s Degree

An Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology is the most common educational route for those seeking a career as a Veterinary Technician. This two year degree is typically offered at a technical school or community college and presents students with the opportunity to learn both the theory and practical skills necessary to work in the field. In order to practice, graduates of an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited program must then pass the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam).

Bachelor’s Degree

While most veterinary technicians have at least an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree is increasingly becoming the norm. A Bachelor’s degree allows veterinary technicians to pursue more advanced positions such as supervisory roles, managerial positions, and other leadership roles. A Bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology typically takes four years to complete, although some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as three years.


In order to become a Vet Tech, you must be licensed in the state in which you wish to practice. The process of becoming licensed as a Vet Tech generally requires the completion of an accredited Vet Tech program, passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam, and passing a state examination.

National Exam

The National Exam is a credentialing exam administered by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). After successfully completing the National Exam, candidates are then eligible to take state or provincial exams (if required) and apply for licensure.

State Exam

After completing an accredited veterinary technology program, graduates must then pass a state-administered examination to earn licensure and practice in most states. The National Veterinary Technician Exam (VTNE) is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) and is used to credential veterinary technicians in all U.S. states except California, Florida, and Louisiana.

Salary and job outlook

Vet techs are in demand! The median salary for a vet tech is $32,000 with a job outlook of 19% (faster than average). With a little bit of schooling, you could be on your way to a new career in no time!


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median salary for veterinary technicians was $32,490 in 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,550, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $46,590. Median salaries are somewhere in the middle, with half of all workers falling below and half above the median.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for veterinary technicians is excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of veterinary technicians will grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The growing popularity of pet ownership and the increasing complexity of animal care are the main drivers of this growth.

As the baby-boom generation ages, they will have more disposable income and will spend more on their pets. In addition, advances in veterinary medicine will continue to increase the demand for highly skilled veterinary technicians.

There are numerous job opportunities available for those who want to work with animals, but the competition is stiff. Candidates who have completed a accredited veterinary technology program and have passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) will have the best job prospects.

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