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Five Essential Veterinary Technician Skills

March 6, 2014 General 0 Comments

Five Essential Veterinary Technician SkillsAccording to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national median salary for a veterinary technician (vet tech) is $30,290 annually. By 2020, the BLS predicts a 30 percent growth in the field, more than double the national average for other jobs. Within any given veterinary practice, a vet tech can expect to act in a number of capacities. Are is a list of the most common, and the skills and work involved with getting the job done.


Whether assisting with an examination, treatment, surgery or follow-up, animal nursing is the core skill of veterinary technicians. From performing animal CPR and installing microchips, vet techs must learn a range of skills. Other vital traits include the ability to:

  • Conduct hands-on physical examinations and obtain a pet's history.
  • Perform venipuncture.
  • Insert catheters.
  • Administer anesthesia and oxygen.
  • Trim hooves and perform other animal husbandry techniques.
  • Serve as a surgical tech and assistant to the veterinary physician during surgeries.
  • Understand the principles of infection control and how to administer a wide variety of treatments.
  • Care for wounds, stitches and dressings.

Laboratory Assessment

The first step in veterinary care is to find out what is wrong with the patient. Beyond gathering a history and a description of symptoms, assessing the problem sometimes requires diagnostic tests, and laboratory analysis is a key element to this process. A veterinary technician trains to:

  • Collect, store and handle laboratory specimens.
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment.
  • Analyze and record test results.
  • Be knowledgeable of blood, urine and other body biochemistry.
  • Understand the various types of infections, from viruses to parasites, as well as how they are detected and treated.

Imaging Assessment

Other frequent assessment tools include the various imaging techniques. The most common is x-ray, though other technologies include endoscopy and ultrasound. Among the many tasks and skills learned, you'll need to:

  • Understand the principles of imaging technologies, including health risks to humans and pets.
  • Operate and maintain imaging equipment.
  • Position animals for studies and control their behaviors.
  • Process and store image results.

Veterinary Pharmacology

As with humans, medications serve a vital function in the prevention and treatment of animal illnesses and injuries. While the physician prescribes medications, the vet tech usually prepares the medications and reinforces the doctor's directions. A vet tech must be:

  • Familiar with all animal vaccinations, including their side effects and how they are administered.
  • Knowledgeable of veterinary medications, dosages and titrations.
  • Competent in storing, preparing and disposing of medications.
  • Capable of recognizing and addressing allergic reactions.
  • Compliant with all drug regulations and maintain appropriate records and logs.

Administration and Customer Service

A veterinary technician works with two patients: the pet and its owner. People have strong emotional bonds to their pets, and a veterinary technician learns how to work with people in high states of anxiety while at the same time acting as an administrator. As a veterinary technician, you'll need to:

  • Schedule appointments.
  • Maintain a sanitary environment.
  • Admit and discharge patients.
  • Manage records.
  • Operate computer systems.
  • Counsel grieving pet owners.

Enriched by the daily education gained by working in the field, most foundational skills are learned through solid vet tech programs. These extraordinarily versatile and skilled veterinary technicians provide a valued service to physicians, pets and their owners.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


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