16 Veterinary Technician Skills for Success

Published on February 14, 2020 by arothstein

Woman uses veterinary technician skills to work with dog

Interested in becoming a vet tech but want to know what skills it takes to succeed? The veterinary technician skills that help make a practice a success play a big role in your professional development. An associate of applied science in veterinary technology can provide you with the skills you need to work as a certified vet tech.

The duties of a vet tech can vary depending on whether you work in a small animal hospital, an emergency clinic, or another environment like a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. Regardless of location, vet techs must know how to administer first aid, vaccines, and handle lab tests. For this reason, a genuine love for animals is a necessity. However, vet techs must have compassion for animals, people, and prepare for whatever challenges they face.

Let’s take a look at some of the veterinary technician skills that help enhance your career in veterinary medicine.

Veterinary Technician Skill #1: The Importance of Communication

Communication is an essential skill for a vet tech who interacts with veterinarians, co-workers, and pet owners each day. Because of this, communication is critical to the success of any veterinary practice. Effective communication is vital to creating positive relationships between the staff of a veterinary practice and its clients. For example, excellent communication can decrease stress and provide a positive experience for owners and their pets. Remember that clients notice how the staff interacts with other coworkers as well.

Veterinary Technician Skill #2: Active Listening

Actively listening to what someone else is saying leads to a more effective response. Additionally, listening to someone speak means paying attention to what’s said. For this reason, it’s essential to hold back on responding while the other person is speaking since this decreases the ability to hear. To listen effectively means to consider the perspective of the speaker and have respect for what they say.

Some tips to improve communication include:
  1. Keeping silent while the other person is speaking and maintaining eye contact lets them know you’re listening.
  2. Paraphrasing what was said lets the speaker know you’re listening and keeps the focus on him or her.
  3. Inviting the other person to speak is an excellent way to get information and let them know you’re listening. For example, you might ask the person to elaborate or ask what they mean. By asking for information, it also assures the other person you’re listening.

Veterinary Technician Skill #3: Empathy

Furthermore, active listening is a veterinary technician skill that also involves the non-verbal clues behind the conversation. For example, a pet owner may be late for an appointment. A vet tech may also encourage the client to talk by commenting on how they seem frustrated or upset. This form of communication is referred to as reflective listening.

The positive aspects of reflective listening are:

Additionally, researchers have discovered that active listening is most effective in bringing about positive change in individuals and positive group development.

Veterinary Technician Skill #4: Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a necessary veterinary technician skill. In many veterinary practices, the vet tech is the first person to interact with an owner and their pet. When an animal has been injured and needs emergency first aid, the vet tech has to quickly assess their condition.

Veterinary Technician Skill #5: Flexibility

A veterinary practice may have hundreds of clients, especially in an area with a large population. Especially on busy days or when there’s an emergency, everyone has to be flexible and help where they’re needed. A vet tech may also have to work longer hours than expected. The job may also require night or weekend hours, especially in an emergency clinic.

Flexibility can also refer to the options for specialization that are available to a vet tech. Although most vet techs work in private veterinary hospitals, they may specialize in wildlife or zoo medicine, health management for livestock, or biomedical research.

Among the specialty fields available to certified vet techs are:

Veterinary Technician Skill #6: Teamwork

The most effective way to work as a team is to have clear goals. A vet tech must use their skill and knowledge to provide compassionate care for animals. The team in a veterinary practice should have the same goal: to provide the most effective care for their client’s pets.

When a team has a common goal, it makes it easier to bond and work more effectively together. Each member of the team should have specific tasks, so everyone is clear about their position. Constructive criticism should be given when a task isn’t completed efficiently, and praise for a job well done.

How Teamwork Helps You Grow

Allow each member of the team to grow independently and give them more complex tasks when they show they can handle the job. Restricting the creativity or growth of members on the team can have a detrimental effect on the team as a whole. For this reason, team members should always know what their role is and be able to perform their duties effectively.

Veterinary Technician Skill #7: Organization

First of all, analytical skills help a vet tech analyze a situation and come up with the best course of action. A detail-oriented person pays close attention to the smallest details for which they’re responsible. Excellent decision-making skills allow a vet tech to make difficult decisions quickly.

Multi-tasking is an essential skill of any vet tech, especially in an extensive veterinary practice. This is especially true when several projects must be completed in a short period. Although a lot of vet techs relate better to animals, it’s essential to have excellent people skills when interacting with veterinarians, team members, and clients.

Problem-solving skills make it easier to find solutions systematically and not get overwhelmed by difficult situations. Likewise, team skills make it easier and more productive to work in a diverse group.

Veterinary Technician Skill #8: Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows a vet tech to manage their emotions as well as the emotions of those around them.

Three skills are associated with emotional intelligence:
  1. Emotional awareness, or the ability to identify the emotions one is experiencing
  2. The ability to harness one’s emotions to solve problems and think clearly
  3. The ability of a vet tech to manage their emotions and help others to do the same

Some employers incorporate emotional intelligence tests into interviews. The belief is that candidates with higher levels of emotional intelligence are a better fit for their team.

A person who is emotionally intelligent is more conscious of his or her emotional state, whether it’s positive or negative. Additionally, an emotionally intelligent person senses the emotions of those around them.

Veterinary Technician Skill #9: Attention to Detail

Doctors and nurses must be precise when treating human patients. Similarly, vet Techs must be as diligent when treating animals. For example, this means that lab samples must be correctly labeled and pet’s medical information must be recorded on the charts. When an animal has been injured, is sick, or has undergone surgery, the vet tech must also carefully monitor the pet’s behavior.

Skill #10: Ability to Work Under Pressure

When an animal is brought into a veterinary hospital, the vet tech is usually the person who sees the client first and performs the initial assessment on the animal. It’s essential for the vet tech to remain calm under pressure because how they react can have a significant effect on the outcome.

A lot of animals are fearful when they arrive at an animal hospital. There are a lot of strange smells and sounds that may frighten them. A vet tech usually spends a lot of time with an animal during an initial assessment and can help to alleviate their fears by speaking in a soothing voice.

Skill #11: Ability to Educate

Pet parents rely on the vet techs in the veterinary practice, and communicate with them a great deal. Although a lot of communication is about the reason for the visit, the vet tech has the opportunity to educate a pet owner about preventive care and why it’s essential to the good health of their pet.

Different Topics Vet Techs Educate About

Most vet techs are animal lovers, and many are pet owners, so it’s in their nature to go the extra step to provide pet owners with helpful information. One way in which a vet tech can educate a pet owner is by specializing as a veterinary nutrition tech. A vet tech that specializes in nutrition is an expert in the field since they must have three years of experience in research-based or clinical animal nutrition.

Diet and Nutrition

A vet tech can educate a pet owner about the best foods for each stage of a dog or cat’s life or for specific health problems. The vet tech can explain the importance of exercise for their pets and the issues that can result from obesity.


A vet tech can also educate a pet owner about the necessity of vaccines and which ones are appropriate for kittens and puppies at different ages. Another way in which a vet tech can educate a pet owner is about training methods and the most effective ways to handle negative behaviors in pets.

Veterinary Technician Skill #12: Time Management

One method of time management used by professionals is referred to as STOP, which stands for:

A vet tech can make use of this method by sitting in a quiet spot and writing down the tasks that must be accomplished for the coming week. For example, the list may include items like contacting suppliers about supplies for the practice, calling clients about upcoming appointments, or taking an inventory of medications.

Thinking about duties that must be accomplished during the week can help a vet tech plan better. This method can be especially helpful for a vet tech who travels to zoos or wildlife sanctuaries to assist with the care of animals.

Organizing one’s thoughts ahead of time can prevent overlooking a critical task that must be accomplished. Implement all the plans on their list. They will be able to accomplish their job more effectively when they are organized.

Veterinary Technician Skill #13: Self-Motivation

Self-motivation involves being motivated to accomplish something because of an interest or enthusiasm to succeed. The self-motivated person isn’t affected by pressure from others. People can be self-motivated by internal or external factors.

Developing and understanding self-motivation can help a person take control of their life. Motivation is one of the areas that’s an integral part of emotional intelligence. Being self-motivated means having a desire to meet higher standards.

The person who is highly motivated has a commitment to achieve work-related or personal goals. They’re always ready to act on opportunities that arise and are optimistic even when faced with difficult challenges.

Veterinary Technician Skill #14: Adaptability

Adaptability means being able to adjust to conditions that change in the workplace. The vet tech who’s adaptable is a valuable asset to the doctors in the practice. Being adaptable allows a vet tech to assume leadership roles and be more satisfied with their job. Adaptability is an asset because a vet tech is able to bounce back easier from adverse situations and are able to handle transitions in their career more effectively.

Veterinary Technician Skill #15: Honesty

A vet tech who is honest at all times sets an excellent example for co-workers and has high regard for the integrity of their profession. Honesty implies that the vet tech always handles their responsibilities on the job with integrity.

Skill #16: Determination and Persistence

A vet tech who persists with their duties and is determined to provide compassionate care for all the animals that come through their door is one that the veterinarian can always rely on. Veterinarians rely on vet techs who are determined to find a solution to problems with animals to provide the most effective and compassionate care.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about skills needed to be a successful vet tech 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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