of pets and other animals today expect superior veterinary care. To
provide this service, veterinarians use the skills of veterinary
technologists and technicians, who perform many of the same duties for a
veterinarian that a nurse would for a physician. Although specific job
duties vary by employer, there is often little difference between the
tasks carried out by technicians and technologists, despite differences
in formal education and training. However, most technicians work in
private clinical practice while many technologists have the option to
work in more advanced research-related jobs.
technologists and technicians typically conduct clinical work in a
private practice under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Veterinary technologists and technicians often perform various medical
tests and treat and diagnose medical conditions and diseases in animals.
For example, they may perform laboratory tests such as urinalysis and
blood counts, assist with dental care, prepare tissue samples, take
blood samples, and assist veterinarians in a variety of other diagnostic
most of these duties are performed in a laboratory setting, many are
not. For example, some veterinary technicians record patients' case
histories, expose and develop x rays and radiographs, and provide
specialized nursing care. In addition, experienced veterinary
technicians may discuss a pet's condition with its owners and train new
clinic personnel. Veterinary technologists and technicians assisting
small-animal practitioners usually care for small pets, such as cats and
dogs, but can perform a variety of duties with mice, rats, sheep, pigs,
cattle, monkeys, birds, fish, and frogs. Very few veterinary
technologists work in mixed animal practices where they care for both
small pets and large, nondomestic animals.
Besides working in
private clinics and animal hospitals, some veterinary technologists and
technicians work in research facilities under the guidance of
veterinarians or physicians. In this role, they may administer
medications, prepare samples for laboratory examinations, or record
information on an animal's genealogy, diet, weight, medications, food
intake, and clinical signs of pain and distress. Some may sterilize
laboratory and surgical equipment and provide routine postoperative
care. Occasionally, veterinary technologists vaccinate newly admitted
animals and may have to euthanize seriously ill, severely injured, or
the goal of most veterinary technologists and technicians is to promote
animal health, some contribute to human health, as well. Veterinary
technologists occasionally assist veterinarians in implementing research
projects as they work with other scientists in medical-related fields
such as gene therapy and cloning. Some find opportunities in biomedical
research, wildlife medicine, livestock management, pharmaceutical sales,
and increasingly, in biosecurity and disaster preparedness.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.