Does your love of animals run deep? If you can envision a life of helping animals, a career as a veterinary technician (or vet tech) may be the right choice for you. Dedication to the proper treatment and care of animals, whether you wish to work with exotic animals or cats and dogs, is an excellent start. If you are interested in joining the world of veterinary medicine, it is time you explore this challenging and rewarding career path. Let’s take a closer look at how you can make a difference in the lives of animals and their families by becoming a veterinary technician in California.
What Does a Veterinary Technician Do?
Veterinary techs and technologists are supervised by licensed veterinarians who perform medical tests to help diagnose animals’ illnesses and injuries. Depending on the work environment, a vet tech job description may include care, clinical, and laboratory tasks. Additional vet tech responsibilities consist of:1
- Check the condition of an animal and observe its behavior.
- Administer first aid to injured animals.
- Groom animals such as bathing, brushing, cutting hair, and trimming nails.
- Restrain animals during exams and procedures.
- Prep animals and equipment for surgery.
- Create and maintain animal case histories.
- Perform diagnostic testing like taking x-rays, laboratory tests, blood counts, and more.
Technicians who work with small animal practitioners may help care for a variety of animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice. Duties may include administering medications (where permitted), conducting various diagnostic and laboratory tests like heartworm and urinalysis, and recording an animal’s weight, diet, symptoms of illness, and signs of pain.
In addition, it is typical for a vet tech to talk with pet owners and explain their pet’s condition or how to administer any treatment or medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Benefits of Being a Vet Tech
As you consider taking on a vet tech role, you may question whether it comes with benefits. Yes, the job has advantages that many other occupations lack. One advantage is a unique, fast-paced work environment that varies daily. The vet tech’s career has a high degree of flexibility, allowing professionals to work across the country in various settings. Vet tech positions also offer the potential for growth over your career. One of the most cited benefits of being a vet tech is knowing that you can make a difference for pets and their families.
Vet Tech vs Vet Assistant
While Vet Tech and Vet assistant jobs seem similar, there are several key differences between them. The tasks of a vet tech include all of the tasks outlined for vet assistants, and also additional duties determined by the VMB. In CA those additional duties are Induction of anesthesia, Suturing existing skin wounds, and extracting teeth. Veterinary assistants are not permitted to perform any of the duties designated for RVTs (or Vet techs).
On the other hand, vet assistants do not require a degree, although employers may prefer a candidate that holds one. These professionals provide support services for a veterinarian or veterinary tech. Vet assistants perform kennel work, aid in the handling of animals, walk or feed animals, and carry out clerical duties. While there are training programs for vet assistants, some receive on-the-job training.2
Those vet assistants that opt for a post-secondary degree can do so in a relatively short time allowing for quick entry into the field.