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VETERINARY TECHNICIAN: Using People-Skills And Animal-Skills To Excel

About this video 

Marina talks about her work as a veterinary technician, including her day-to-day responsibilities and why she loves her job.

Degree: Communication and Media Studies
Job Title: Veterinary Technician
Employer: Mill Valley, CA

Job Summary: Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Job Description

To provide superior animal care, veterinarians rely on the skills of veterinary technologists and technicians, who do many of the same tasks for a veterinarian that nurses would for a doctor. Despite differences in formal education and training, veterinary technologists and technicians carry out many similar tasks.

Many veterinary technologists and technicians work in private clinics, animal hospitals, and veterinary testing laboratories. They conduct a variety of clinical and laboratory procedures, including postoperative care, dental care, and specialized nursing care.

Veterinary technologists and technicians who work in research-related jobs do similar work. For example, they are responsible for making sure that animals are handled carefully and humanely. They commonly help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety.

Veterinary technologists and technicians most often work with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, but they may also do a variety of tasks with mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, and birds.

Veterinary technologists and technicians can specialize in a particular discipline. Specialties include dental technology, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.

The differences between technologists and technicians are the following:

Veterinary technologists usually have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Although some technologists work in private clinical practices, many work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist and sometimes a veterinarian. Working primarily in a laboratory setting, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record information on an animal’s genealogy, weight, diet, food intake, and signs of pain.

Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. Most work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may perform laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although some of their work is done in a laboratory setting, many technicians also talk with animal owners. They explain, for example, a pet’s condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

On-the-Job Training

Varies depending on the role and facility.

Additional Info

Technologists and technicians must take a credentialing exam and must become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the state.

Certification Requirement
Depending on the state, candidates must become certified, licensed, or registered to practice. Most states require you to take a national exam.

Quick Facts

Average salary
Average salary
National Statistic Change Location
$20,000 - $45,000
Projected job growth
Projected Job Growth
40 to 50 percent
Typical schedule
Typical schedule
Full-time, Irregular, Long hours
Typical workplace
Typical workplace
Hospital / Clinic, Indoor, Office, Outdoor
Personal qualities
Personal Qualities
Detail oriented, Empathy, Likes working with hands, Teamwork, Technical skills

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P3.instances[0].transcript.parse_transcript_data({"transcript":"<p><span m='120'>My</span> <span m='250'>name</span> <span m='430'>is</span> <span m='550'>Marina</span> <span m='900'>Merkouris,</span> <span m='1290'>and</span> <span m='1690'>I am</span> <span m='2040'>a</span> <span m='2120'>veterinary</span> <span m='2680'>technician</span> <span m='3400'>at</span> <span m='3960'>Camino Alto</span> <span m='4355'>Vet</span> <span m='4670'>Hospital</span> <span m='5250'>in</span> <span m='5710'>Mill Valley,</span> <span m='6066'>California.</span> <span m='7800'>The</span> <span m='7940'>difference</span> <span m='8300'>between</span> <span m='9030'>a</span> <span m='9110'>veterinarian</span> <span m='9880'>and</span> <span m='9960'>the</span> <span m='10050'>veterinary</span> <span m='10590'>technician</span> <span m='11330'>is</span> <span m='11510'>that</span> <span m='11780'>the</span> <span m='11870'>technicians</span> <span m='12400'>have</span> <span m='12700'>a</span> <span m='12800'>lot</span> <span m='13050'>of</span> <span m='13100'>hands-on</span> <span m='13890'>with</span> <span m='14050'>animals.</span> <span m='14890'>So</span> <span m='15140'>when</span> <span m='15350'>a</span> <span m='15390'>veterinarian</span> <span m='16350'>decides</span> <span m='16780'>they</span> <span m='16870'>want</span> <span m='17080'>to</span> <span m='17150'>do</span> <span m='17280'>a</span> <span m='17360'>test,</span> <span m='18110'>the</span> <span m='18210'>technician</span> <span m='18640'>is</span> <span m='18730'>the</span> <span m='18810'>one</span> <span m='18950'>that</span> <span m='19040'>actually</span> <span m='19910'>runs</span> <span m='20190'>the</span> <span m='20290'>test</span> <span m='20740'>and</span> <span m='20800'>takes</span> <span m='21160'>the</span> <span m='21290'>blood.</span> <span m='21560'>And</span> <span m='22150'>if</span> <span m='22850'>there's a</span> <span m='22900'>sick</span> <span m='23250'>animal</span> <span m='23470'>in the</span> <span m='23540'>back</span> <span m='24060'>and</span> <span m='24230'>we</span> <span m='24320'>need</span> <span m='24490'>to</span> <span m='24550'>give</span> <span m='24710'>medications,</span> <span m='25410'>the</span> <span m='25510'>technician</span> <span m='25970'>is</span> <span m='26120'>the</span> <span m='26220'>one</span> <span m='26440'>that</span> <span m='26490'>gives</span> <span m='26710'>the</span> <span m='26810'>medication.</span> <span m='27430'>So</span> <span m='27610'>it's</span> <span m='27770'>a</span> <span m='27810'>very</span> <span m='28110'>hands-on</span> <span m='28600'>job,</span> <span m='28880'>which is a lot of</span> <span m='29160'>fun.</span> </p><p><span m='30770'>In</span> <span m='30950'>a</span> <span m='31110'>typical</span> <span m='31720'>day</span> <span m='33530'>I'm</span> <span m='33730'>actually</span> <span m='33970'>doing</span> <span m='34300'>quite</span> <span m='34470'>a</span> <span m='34510'>few</span> <span m='34680'>things</span> <span m='34900'>here.</span> <span m='35160'>I do</span> <span m='35510'>a</span> <span m='35580'>lot</span> <span m='35800'>of</span> <span m='35920'>back</span> <span m='36220'>work</span> <span m='36490'>with</span> <span m='36610'>the</span> <span m='36700'>animals.</span> <span m='36970'>And</span> <span m='37240'>I</span> <span m='37340'>also</span> <span m='37560'>do</span> <span m='37730'>a</span> <span m='37780'>lot</span> <span m='38030'>of</span> <span m='38130'>the</span> <span m='38320'>front</span> <span m='38585'>work</span> <span m='39390'>as</span> <span m='39540'>far as</span> <span m='39670'>invoicing</span> <span m='40043'>and</span> <span m='40790'>reception</span> <span m='41260'>work goes,</span> <span m='41565'>so I</span> <span m='41870'>answer</span> <span m='42120'>a lot of</span> <span m='42350'>telephones.</span> <span m='43120'>But</span> <span m='43490'>probably</span> <span m='44130'>the</span> <span m='44190'>best</span> <span m='44450'>part</span> <span m='44740'>is</span> <span m='44830'>working</span> <span m='45080'>with</span> <span m='45240'>the animals.</span> <span m='45490'>We</span> <span m='45870'>do</span> <span m='47060'>everything</span> <span m='47410'>from</span> <span m='47570'>drawing</span> <span m='47960'>blood,</span> <span m='48670'>to</span> <span m='49230'>x-rays,</span> <span m='50200'>to</span> <span m='50430'>assisting</span> <span m='50790'>in</span> <span m='50920'>surgeries.</span> <span m='52230'>So</span> <span m='52340'>we</span> <span m='52620'>have a</span> <span m='52710'>lot of</span> <span m='52970'>hands-on</span> <span m='53260'>time</span> <span m='53670'>with the</span> <span m='53910'>animals</span> <span m='54230'>and</span> <span m='54550'>they're</span> <span m='54790'>always</span> <span m='55090'>really</span> <span m='55300'>fun</span> <span m='55540'>to</span> <span m='55620'>work</span> <span m='55840'>with.</span> </p><p><span m='56590'>The advice</span> <span m='57090'>I</span> <span m='57340'>would give</span> <span m='57830'>for</span> <span m='58700'>anybody</span> <span m='59100'>looking</span> <span m='59520'>to</span> <span m='59670'>get</span> <span m='59970'>into</span> <span m='60060'>this</span> <span m='60260'>kind</span> <span m='60460'>of</span> <span m='60670'>work</span> <span m='61040'>would</span> <span m='61200'>be</span> <span m='61420'>to</span> <span m='61770'>probably</span> <span m='62150'>volunteer</span> <span m='62770'>first,</span> <span m='63180'>maybe in</span> <span m='63590'>an</span> <span m='63760'>animal</span> <span m='64150'>shelter.</span> <span m='65290'>The</span> <span m='65530'>one</span> <span m='65870'>drawback</span> <span m='66400'>about</span> <span m='66660'>this</span> <span m='66840'>work</span> <span m='67030'>is</span> <span m='67140'>that</span> <span m='67300'>there</span> <span m='67500'>are</span> <span m='67680'>some</span> <span m='68080'>things</span> <span m='68490'>you'll</span> <span m='68660'>see</span> <span m='68850'>that</span> <span m='69030'>are</span> <span m='69470'>pretty</span> <span m='69690'>sad.</span> <span m='70250'>And</span> <span m='70420'>so</span> <span m='70560'>you</span> <span m='70620'>have</span> <span m='70830'>to</span> <span m='71020'>know</span> <span m='71190'>that</span> <span m='71340'>you're</span> <span m='71510'>able</span> <span m='71880'>to</span> <span m='73060'>work</span> <span m='73500'>through</span> <span m='73670'>that</span> <span m='74190'>and</span> <span m='74630'>be</span> <span m='74790'>successful,</span> <span m='75530'>because</span> <span m='75840'>it</span> <span m='76130'>can</span> <span m='76280'>be,</span> <span m='76670'>you can have</span> <span m='76880'>great</span> <span m='77100'>days</span> <span m='77250'>here,</span> <span m='78300'>happy</span> <span m='78580'>days,</span> <span m='79070'>you</span> <span m='79380'>see a lot of</span> <span m='79720'>puppies and kittens,</span> <span m='79940'>which are</span> <span m='80195'>awesome.</span> <span m='80450'>But you also</span> <span m='80870'>see</span> <span m='81170'>a lot</span> <span m='81260'>of sick</span> <span m='81690'>animals</span> <span m='81910'>so you</span> <span m='82280'>have</span> <span m='82470'>to</span> <span m='82990'>know that</span> <span m='83270'>you're</span> <span m='83520'>able</span> <span m='83880'>to</span> <span m='84520'>deal</span> <span m='84750'>with</span> <span m='84900'>that</span> <span m='85440'>well.</span> </p><p><span m='86120'>I</span> <span m='86660'>have</span> <span m='86890'>a</span> <span m='86940'>college</span> <span m='87320'>degree.</span> <span m='87870'>And</span> <span m='88380'>I</span> <span m='88440'>think</span> <span m='88670'>that</span> <span m='88800'>is</span> <span m='89050'>important</span> <span m='89500'>even</span> <span m='89740'>though</span> <span m='89930'>this</span> <span m='90220'>job</span> <span m='90560'>doesn't</span> <span m='90840'>require</span> <span m='91410'>it,</span> <span m='91910'>to</span> <span m='92030'>have</span> <span m='92300'>one,</span> <span m='92590'>because</span> <span m='93220'>it's</span> <span m='93400'>always</span> <span m='93660'>looked</span> <span m='93840'>favorably</span> <span m='94330'>upon.</span> <span m='94780'>I</span> <span m='94910'>think</span> <span m='95130'>people</span> <span m='95360'>with</span> <span m='95480'>college</span> <span m='95830'>degrees</span> <span m='96290'>tend</span> <span m='96550'>to</span> <span m='97460'>get</span> <span m='97610'>hired</span> <span m='98140'>more</span> <span m='98360'>readily,</span> <span m='98770'>especially</span> <span m='99220'>in</span> <span m='99320'>this</span> <span m='99600'>kind of</span> <span m='99830'>industry.</span> </p><p><span m='101080'>My</span> <span m='101300'>degree</span> <span m='101600'>is in</span> <span m='101900'>communications,</span> <span m='102650'>and</span> <span m='102720'>that's</span> <span m='102910'>a</span> <span m='102930'>huge</span> <span m='103190'>part</span> <span m='103480'>of what I do</span> <span m='103890'>here</span> <span m='104570'>at the</span> <span m='104730'>hospital.</span> <span m='104995'>You</span> <span m='105260'>communicate</span> <span m='105535'>with</span> <span m='105810'>people</span> <span m='106160'>quite</span> <span m='106430'>a</span> <span m='106470'>bit.</span> <span m='106830'>And</span> <span m='107140'>it's</span> <span m='108250'>often</span> <span m='108490'>in</span> <span m='108740'>sensitive</span> <span m='109110'>situations.</span> <span m='109960'>It</span> <span m='110150'>works</span> <span m='110420'>really</span> <span m='110610'>well</span> <span m='110820'>for</span> <span m='110940'>me,</span> <span m='111140'>because</span> <span m='111410'>I</span> <span m='111460'>love</span> <span m='111730'>being</span> <span m='111930'>around</span> <span m='112090'>people.</span> <span m='112530'>I</span> <span m='112600'>love</span> <span m='112770'>being</span> <span m='112950'>around</span> <span m='113180'>animals.</span> <span m='114180'>And</span> <span m='114435'>it</span> <span m='114690'>just</span> <span m='114880'>makes me</span> <span m='115120'>really</span> <span m='115350'>happy.</span> </p>","file":{"id":195442,"video_id":"2701364101001","name":"59004398","duration":116713,"thumbnail_url":null}});