Veterinary technicians (also known as vet techs) are trained and licensed individuals who provide support and assistance to veterinarians in the care and treatment of animals. The work a vet tech does for a veterinarian is much like what a nurse does in support of a doctor. Unlike veterinary assistants, vet techs have advanced education and training. Veterinary technicians are licensed by their state to perform specific procedures, whereas, veterinary assistants are not licensed.

Day in the Life of a Vet Tech

The specific duties of a vet tech depend on where and for whom he or she works. Most vet techs work in private practices under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. In addition to assisting during examinations and treatment, vet techs:

  • Perform medical tests to help diagnose the patient's condition
  • Conduct lab tests such as blood work and urinalysis
  • Assist in patient dental care and treatment
  • Record patient histories
  • Perform routine care, such as wound care and casting broken bones
  • Clean and maintain examination rooms
  • Take and develop x-rays
  • Maintain office pharmaceuticals and other supplies

In a research facility, the duties of a veterinary technician are somewhat different, including:

  • Preparing tissue samples for laboratory examination
  • Dispensing medication and administering vaccinations
  • Watching and recording animal behavior and changes
  • Maintaining, cleaning and sterilizing laboratory equipment

Important Characteristics for a Vet Tech

A natural starting point for successful veterinary technicians is the compassion they feel toward animals who are sick or injured; but they must also have excellent communication skills to interact and coordinate with the veterinarians they assist, other veterinary staff, and pets' owners. They use observation, deductive reasoning and good judgment to recognize and solve complex problems. Finally, they are proficient with computers in order to document details and files.

Education Requirements

If this career seems like the right fit for you, you'll need to know about veterinary technician education requirements and training.

  1. Get a high school diploma. Prepare for your career as a vet tech in high school by taking math, science and biology courses.
  2. Earn an associate degree in veterinary technology. Vet tech schools are available at junior colleges, community colleges, vocational schools, and facilities associated with distance learning (or online programs). Vet tech programs should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
  3. Gain clinical experience. This is required for all veterinary technicians. Participate in an internship supervised by a veterinarian. You'll gain hands-on training and practical experience, and it may even lead to your first job.
  4. Earn a credential. Once you complete the veterinary technician education requirements, take the credentialing exam required by all states. Licensing requirements vary by state, but many use the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam for certification.
  5. Earning advanced credentials is always useful and, in some cases, necessary in this profession. Those seeking employment in a research facility should pursue an American Association for Laboratory Animal Science certification.

Veterinary technicians can also specialize. According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, recognized specialties include:

  • Anesthesia
  • Internal Medicine
  • Dental Technology
  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Behavior
  • Equine Nursing
  • Zoological Medicine

Career Tips

Once you have achieved your position as a vet tech, consider moving your career to the next level. These tips can help you advance:

  • Pursue continuing education: Many states require continuing education to maintain your license. Taking courses throughout your career helps you stay up to date on new technologies.
  • Consider professional group membership: Organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association provide updates on industry developments, networking, and job openings.
  • Teach: Teaching incoming students can help you become an expert in the field and advance your career.


  • Veterinary Assistant Schools and Training Programs, CityTownInfo.com, https://www.citytowninfo.com/employment/veterinary-assistants, accessed September 2017
  • Diploma Veterinary Assisting, Ashworth College, https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/career-diplomas/veterinary-assisting/, accessed September 2017
  • Online Veterinary Assistant School, U.S. Career Institute, https://www.uscareerinstitute.edu/certificates/professional-services/veterinary-assistant, Accessed September 2017
  • Veterinary Assistants, NAVTA, http://www.navta.net/?page=vet_assistants, accessed September 2017
  • Veterinary Assistants, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-assistants-and-laboratory-animal-caretakers.htm#tab-1
  • Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm

Veterinary Technician Skills

Below are the skills needed to be veterinary technician according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Critical Thinking3.753.88
Active Listening3.753.75
Reading Comprehension3.53.75

Veterinary Technician Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be veterinary technician according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Expression44
Oral Comprehension3.884
Problem Sensitivity3.884
Deductive Reasoning3.883.75
Speech Recognition3.623.38

Veterinary Technician Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be veterinary technician according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Customer and Personal Service4.235.04
English Language4.083.47
Medicine and Dentistry3.583.49

Veterinary Technician Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being veterinary technician according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Getting Information4.684.79
Documenting/Recording Information4.593.92
Assisting and Caring for Others4.495.47
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.44.66
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings4.355.67

Veterinary Technician Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being veterinary technician according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.73
Self Control4.54

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Veterinary Technician

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Veterinary Technician jobs , as of 2017

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington2,900 $34,160
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim2,850 $40,630
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood1,950 $35,270
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land1,860 $29,270
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell1,710 $31,400
Pittsburgh1,540 $31,460
Austin-Round Rock1,390 $28,190
San Antonio-New Braunfels1,380 $31,230
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach1,360 $35,450
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater1,280 $30,220

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Vet Techs

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2
Please select State, Metro Area 1 and Metro Area 2
Select different Metro Areas

Total employment and salary for professions similar to vet techs

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

Most Popular Industries for
Veterinary Technician

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

IndustryTotal EmploymentPercentAnnual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services73,61093%$28,610
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Veterinary Technician.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

Back to Top
We have made updates to our Privacy PolicyPrivacy Policy to reflect the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation.