“I really like animals and think I might want to work with them for a career. Can you tell me more about what a veterinary tech does and what training or education I might need?” – Diane from Chattanooga, TN
Hi Diane. As a licensed veterinary medical technician for 35 years, I can tell you that the veterinary technician is an important member of the veterinary health care team. They are educated in the care and handling of animals, the basic principles of their normal and abnormal life processes, and in many laboratory and clinical procedures.
Owners 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. A licensed veterinary technician works under the direct supervision of a practicing veterinarian. Examples of responsibilities would include patient care, specimen collection, laboratory work, radiology, anesthesia, surgical assisting, dentistry, client education, office/hospital management.
Employment for technicians include small/mixed animal practices, biomedical research facilities, zoos, pharmaceutical sales, veterinary colleges, veterinary technician training programs and animals shelters. Once you become licensed, there are additional specialty areas in which you may become further certified in which include: emergency and critical care, nutrition, dentistry, clinical practice, surgical, anesthesia, internal medicine, zoo, behavior and equine.
Training and Education
A veterinary technician is an individual that has received formal college training through an American Veterinary Medical Association accredited program with either an associates or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. As a graduate, completing your education allows you to become licensed in the state in which you plan to work. Most states within the U.S. require licensing for technicians. I graduated from Columbia State Community Colleges Veterinary Technology program in 1976 and began teaching there in 1978.
Tennessee currently has three accredited technician training programs: Columbia State Community College, Lincoln Memorial University and Chattanooga State. Here are some helpful links that you can use to research and continue to develop your interest in veterinary technology:
As you continue in your career, you can join organizations such as the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America or your state’s Veterinary Technicians Association to increase your knowledge of the field and to develop a network of colleagues.