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, http://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

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 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2,780 $32,450
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 2,620 $40,710
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,910 $34,500
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 1,830 $33,560
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 1,770 $29,090
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 1,720 $30,030
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 1,570 $30,370
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 1,380 $33,050
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 1,370 $30,460
Austin-Round Rock 1,220 $27,470

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

Total employment and salary for professions similar to vet techs

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Veterinary Technician

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

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 73,610 93% $28,610
Education 2,130 2% $34,280
Government 1,050 1% $40,570
Non-profit 940 1% $26,580
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.
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
  • Dedicated to helping students build bright futures through a powerful education
  • 50+ programs for bachelor & associate degrees, career diplomas, & certificates
  • 98% of graduates are satisfied with their Penn Foster studies
  • Pay tuition in full & save up to 25% or sign up for low monthly payments w/ 0% interest
  • Penn Foster is the perfect choice for flexible courses in many growing industries
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Why study nursing at Grand Canyon University?
  • Our bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing are CCNE-accredited and the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions (CONHCP) is approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
  • We provide many options to prepare you to begin or advance your nursing career, including bridge programs and dual degrees.
  • GCU provides a low student-to-teacher ratio and a Christian environment that provides an opportunity for you to embrace a holistic approach to caring for patients.
  • Request more information today about program offerings, CCNE accreditation, start dates, financial aid and more!
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
camnpus icon
San Marcos
Request Info
  • Offers programs in nursing, medical assisting, pharmacy technology, dental assisting, and more.
  • Six Campuses across Northern CA: Fremont, San Jose, Sacramento, S. San Francisco, Hayward, and Concord.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, with programmatic approvals from the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians and the Board of Registered Nursing.
  • Approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating since 2010.
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • For more than 45 years, PMI has been dedicated to quality healthcare education
  • 17 campuses across 9 states including Arizona, California, Texas, Colorado & more
  • Accredited by the ABHES with multiple accreditations per specific program
  • Certificates, associates, and bachelor’s programs in leading healthcare fields
  • PMI offers financial aid to students who qualify for assistance
camnpus icon
San Marcos
Request Info
  • Presents stimulating, thoughtful programs for students in every academic field
  • SACS accredited w/many accreditations per program & 14:1 teacher-student ratio
  • 7 colleges with dozens of majors & programs to choose from for undergrads & grads
  • Beautiful 248 acre campus with ¾ mile waterfront located in Jacksonville, FL
  • Named an “America’s Best College” in the south for 10+ years, US News & World Report
  • Offers accelerated programs w/ flexible schedules & professional instruction
  • Multiple accredited campuses across 9 states including CA, TX, NV, & PA
  • 10 + programs including Practical Nursing, Dental and Medical Assisting
  • Provides professional development training & career planning resources
  • Military Student Center (MSC) is committed to the success of military students
camnpus icon
Request Info
  • Online Bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, Psychology, IT, Healthcare Management & Public Health
  • Over 115 years of delivering quality education and personalized attention to students
  • Provide a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services
  • Give students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
  • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
  • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
  • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
  • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!

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