Veterinary technologists perform medical tests under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to treat or to help veterinarians diagnose the illnesses and injuries of animals. They usually work in private clinics, laboratories, or animal hospitals.
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Veterinary technologists who work in research-related jobs are responsible for making sure that animals are handled carefully and humanely. They commonly help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety. They most often work with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, but they may also do a variety of tasks with mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, and birds. Veterinary technologists typically do the following:
To provide superior animal care, veterinarians rely on the skills of veterinary technologists, who do many of the same tasks for a veterinarian that nurses would for a doctor. They conduct a variety of clinical and laboratory procedures, including postoperative care, dental care, and specialized nursing care. They can specialize in a particular discipline. Specialties include dental technology, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.
People interested in becoming a veterinary technologist should take high school classes in biology, other sciences, and math. They also must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology.
Veterinary technologists must treat animals with kindness and must be sensitive when dealing with the owners of sick pets. They must pay attention to details and be precise when recording information, doing diagnostic tests, and administering medication. They must monitor the behaviour and condition of animals and be able to recognize any problems that arise.
Veterinary technologists spend a substantial amount of their time communicating with supervisors, animal owners, and other staff. Dexterity is important because they must handle animals, medical instruments, and laboratory equipment with care. They also do intricate tasks, such as dental work, giving anesthesia, and taking x-rays, which require a steady hand.
Veterinary technologists typically work in private clinics, laboratories, and animal hospitals. Some work in boarding kennels, animal shelters, rescue leagues, and zoos. Their jobs may be physically or emotionally demanding. They may witness abused animals or may need to help euthanize sick, injured, or unwanted animals.
Veterinary technologists experience a rate of injuries and illnesses that is much higher than the national average. When working with scared or aggressive animals, they may be bitten, scratched, or kicked. Injuries may happen while the technologist is holding, cleaning, or restraining an animal.
Many clinics and laboratories must be staffed 24 hours a day, so veterinary technologists may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.
The median annual wage of veterinary technologists and technicians was $29,710 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10% earned less than $20,500, and the top 10% earned more than $44,030.
Veterinary technologists and technicians working in research positions often earn more than those in other fields.