Veterinary technicians are lucky in many ways. They get to work with the animals they love every day in a highly rewarding career. And unlike veterinarians, they can begin their careers without eight years of college and a lengthy internship. If your end career goal is to become a veterinarian, becoming a veterinary technician is also a great way to test out the career field and gain valuable experience before applying to veterinary school.

Veterinary technicians are involved in almost every aspect of an animal’s medical care. Let’s follow Sparky the dog as he visits his veterinarian’s office to take a look at all the things a veterinary technician does during a normal workday.

Sparky arrives at the vet.

Mrs. Pearson, Sparky’s owner, brings Sparky into the veterinary office. After checking in, the veterinary technician takes Sparky and Mrs. Pearson to an exam room. The veterinary technician asks Mrs. Pearson questions about Sparky’s problem and notes them on Sparky’s chart. Sparky has been throwing up all night and pawing at her belly. The technician takes Sparky’s temperature and other vital signs. After a short wait, the veterinarian comes in and gives Sparky an examination.

Sparky gets an x-ray.

Because Sparky is still a puppy and has no fever, the veterinarian thinks Sparky may have eaten something indigestible, like a plastic bag or piece of a toy. The vet recommends an x-ray to make sure. The veterinary technician helps position Sparky and holds him still while the vet takes the x-ray. The technician will then wait for the vet to make an official diagnosis.

Sparky has surgery.

It turns out that Sparky has eaten something that looks suspiciously like Mrs. Pearson’s new cell phone. Because the object is too large to pass on its own, they will have to operate to remove it. The veterinary technician prepares the room and assists the vet with the operation, monitoring Sparky’s vital signs and anesthesia. He will have to stay overnight, where the evening shift veterinary technician will keep a close eye on him.

Sparky goes home, good as new.

The next day, Sparky is ready to go home. The veterinary technician shows Mrs. Pearson how to care for Sparky’s stitches and gives her some advice on how to keep Sparky from eating electronics in the future. Mrs. Pearson thanks them both for saving Sparky’s life and taking such good care of him.

Career possibilities

While small animal practices employ the most veterinary technicians, veterinary technicians may also work in zoos, aquariums, shelters, laboratories, or large animal practices catering to livestock or horses. Job prospects for this field should be excellent, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 41% growth rate in this field through 2016. Candidates holding degrees from accredited veterinary technician and veterinary technology programs will have the best job prospects.

An associate degree in veterinary technology will prepare you to work as part of an animal care team in a veterinarian’s office or an animal hospital in just two short years. A veterinary technician diploma or certificate can usually be completed in as little as nine months.

There are many schools that offer veterinary courses. To see these and other related degrees, visit the Veterinary Schools directory today.