How Do I Become a Veterinary Technician?

Published on September 27, 2019 by arothstein

Veterinary technician caring for a cat

Interested in becoming a veterinary technician? Love animals and working with compassionate coworkers? A veterinary technician may work in a private vet practice, animal hospital or emergency clinic and is an indispensable part of the veterinary team. A veterinary technician student must complete a degree program, pass a state exam, and be licensed to work as a vet tech.

A veterinary technician may be groomed from an early age to have compassion for animals and have an interest in caring for animals since they had pets as kids. As an adult, someone interested in becoming a vet tech can attend a vocational school to become a veterinary technician. They can network with instructors, colleagues, and while on externships to become a vet tech after graduation.

Compassion for Animals

First of all, compassion for animals is one of the essential traits of a veterinary technician. With this compassion, they have the opportunity to care of many different species. Animal hospitals and clinics may also specialize in caring for different types of animals, depending on the location. A veterinary practice in a city may primarily care for small animals like cats, dogs, or rabbits.

A veterinary technician may have a preference for a particular species; especially puppies or kittens. They may not always care for dogs or cats. Before making the choice to become a veterinary technician, decide if you have compassion for all species of animals. You must be comfortable caring for a reptile, trudging through a pasture in the middle of the night to care for a sick calf, or assisting with a horse that’s giving birth.

Compassion For All Animals

Someone who truly has compassion for all animals can handle these situations. For example, you could discover that you have a love for a species you’ve never interacted with before. However, if you’re really a dog or cat person you may want to work in a small animal practice.

Some practices may care for birds and exotic species. On the other hand, a practice in a rural setting may mainly care for farm animals. Some veterinarians work in wildlife sanctuaries or zoos, which also allows a veterinary technician to care for hundreds of different species.

Interest in Caring for Animals

A veterinary technician must have a genuine interest in caring for animals, as the vet tech provides a lot of behind-the-scenes care for animals. When a pet owner brings their dog, cat, or other small animal into the practice, the veterinary technician is the person who handles the initial assessment. The vet tech determines if the animal must be seen by the veterinarian immediately.

When a pet is brought into a practice for an emergency, the veterinary technician is handling an animal that may be in pain and is frightened. Because of these situations, the vet tech is trained to handle stressed pets and must remain calm.

Making Animals Feel Safe

Animals are very perceptive and know when someone genuinely cares for them. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle touch or a soothing voice to calm an animal. A calm, caring professional can make all the difference in the outcome of an emergency situation. A cat or dog instinctively understands when their owner is stressed and upset. A pet owner knows when a veterinary technician has a genuine love for animals and will feel comforted knowing their pet is in good hands and getting the best possible care.

What Skills are Needed to Become a Veterinary Technician?

The skills that a veterinary technician needs to become a success include compassion, good communication, attention to detail, problem solving skills, manual dexterity, critical thinking and an ability to continuously learn.


Compassion for animals is an absolute must for a vet tech, and this means all animals, not just the cute, furry, kittens, and puppies. They must always put the needs of the animals first and provide the best possible treatment for their health and well-being.

As difficult as it may be, a vet tech must always have compassion for pet owners too. When a family pet is sick or injured, pet owners are scared and stressed. They need the reassurance that the vet tech is doing the best they can for their pet.

Good Communication

Excellent communication and listening skills are a necessity for a veterinary technician. They must communicate effectively with everyone on their team. When discussing medical problems and treatment options with a pet parent, the vet tech must communicate with them and answer questions, so they understand what they’re being told. A vet tech must also offer emotional support to a pet owner dealing with a difficult situation.

Attention to Detail

The same care that’s exercised with human patients is a must when caring for animals. The behavior of pets must be monitored and recorded. Blood and other samples must be labeled correctly to avoid confusion. It’s also vital to give an animal the correct dosage of a medication.

Problem Solving

When there are a lot of patients to see in a practice, it often falls to the vet tech to make the right decision for a patient when the veterinarian is busy with other patients. They will usually have to rely on their judgment to make the best decision for their patient.

Manual Dexterity

A vet tech that works in a small animal practice will handle large dogs, get them on the exam table, and keep them still while the veterinarian examines them. A vet tech that works on a farm will take care of livestock. They must have a lot of energy and the strength to handle large animals.

Critical Thinking

Snap decisions in an emergency or at times when the practice is hectic are a necessity for a veterinary technician. Because of this, critical thinking skills are important when dealing with problems and members of the vet team. Making the correct decision can be beneficial for everyone on the team and make for a more amiable work situation.

Continuously Learning

After gaining a degree as a veterinary technician, the learning doesn’t end. A vet tech must keep up to date on the newest advances in veterinary medicine. If they want to work in a specialty field like a wildlife sanctuary or a zoo, a more specialized degree is necessary as well as fieldwork to gain the required experience.

Attending a Vocational School to Train as a Veterinary Technician

Attending a vocational school provides students with the specific training they need for a career as a veterinary technician. By enrolling in a veterinary technician program at a vocational school, they’ll learn the particular skills they need for a career as a vet tech.

Attending a vocational school allows students to gain hands-on experience caring for animals while they learn. Another benefit of earning a degree in veterinary technology at a vocational school is that the student acquires the skills they need for the job. This also helps to educate and prepare to advance as a specialty veterinary technician.

What Does A Veterinary Technician Do?

A veterinary technician works with a veterinarian and handles many of the same duties as a nurse or lab technician working with a doctor in private practice or a hospital. A vet tech must get the relevant information from the pet owner and record the animal’s medical history. The vet tech assists in administering medications and treatments. The vet tech is also responsible for taking blood, urine, or tissue samples.

The specific duties of a veterinary technician can vary considerably depending on where they work. A veterinary technician that specializes in research will spend most of their time working in a lab performing a variety of medical tests. By contrast, a vet tech who works in a small animal practice will devote most of their time to assisting the veterinarians with treatment.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about the how to become a veterinary technician interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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