How Can I Become a Veterinary Technician?


Dear Doctor Barchas,

I am hoping of one day become a vet-tech, and I was wondering what kind of things I should do to gain experience before colledge. Are there any certain jobs I should apply for, or programs I should enter before I reach college, that will assist my teachings or prepare me for a veterinary science career. I have bought many books, that can be found anywhere in my bedroom, and I own both a cat, Missy, and a dog, Duet.

I was also wondering, what kind of rewarding achievments come from being involved in the veterinary feild. I can not wait to receive your response to my questions.

Tuba City, AZ

Veterinary technicians, also called veterinary nurses, help in many ways with animal care in veterinary facilities. Duties of veterinary technicians depend upon training (both on-the-job and formal), experience, license level, and the culture of the facility in which the technician is employed. Well-trained, licensed veterinary technicians engage in such activities as phlebotomy (drawing blood for diagnostic tests), placing intravenous catheters, anesthetizing animals, performing basic dental work, taking X-rays, monitoring blood transfusions, placing splints and bandages, and assisting with surgeries and emergencies.

It is possible to become a veterinary technician without formal education. However, licensed veterinary technicians must complete a special educational program and pass a licensing test. Licensed technicians legally can perform many more duties than unlicensed techs. Licensed technicians are in high demand, and command higher salaries (and usually higher status) than their unlicensed counterparts. If you are truly passionate about becoming a technician, I’d recommend that you plan on completing a veterinary technician program as soon as appropriate.

While you are preparing for tech school, you can begin to gain experience by applying for work at a veterinary hospital. Many technicians start off as kennel attendants or veterinary assistants before being promoted. Entry level animal care jobs at veterinary hospitals usually involve a lot of cage cleaning, dog walking, and poop scooping. But most kennel attendants and vet assistants also learn to restrain animals safely for procedures and injections. They assist the vets and the techs with treatments and procedures. They learn the inner workings of the hospital. They also gain insight into whether they truly want to commit to a career in the veterinary field.

If you are too young to work at a veterinary hospital, I’d recommend that you explore the possibility of volunteering with animals. Many animal shelters and SPCAs utilize volunteers to socialize (and sometimes provide medical treatments to) stray cats and dogs. Zoos, aquariums, museums, and wildlife rescue organizations also often are in need of volunteers.

No matter what, I recommend that you apply yourself to school and to studying. Good study habits will help you through tech school and the licensing exam. And good grades will open up a world of opportunities for you regardless of the career you choose.

Related post: How can I become a veterinarian?

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