Where Can I Work with a Vet Tech Degree?

Published on July 31, 2020 by arothstein

Students practicing on a dog to earn their vet tech degree.

Do you love caring for and being around animals? Animal lovers who want to work with animals but don’t want the expense of veterinary school or spending seven or more years earning the necessary credentials to be a veterinarian should consider becoming a vet tech. A student can earn a degree at an accredited school in less than two years. A vet tech plays a crucial role in the care of animals. The duties of vet techs include:

Helping Pets and Their Owners

For anyone who loves animals, being a vet tech brings a lot of joy into their life. Veterinary technology is one of the most rewarding careers for anyone who wants to care for animals. Veterinary practices serve many pets parents and their pets, and vet techs are an integral part of a vet practice. One of the most gratifying aspects of working as a vet tech is knowing that an animal is feeling better, and that their owner is relieved.

While a career as a vet tech offers a lot of personal satisfaction, it has other benefits as well. Studies have shown that companion animals can reduce stress levels. Although working as a vet tech isn’t play, spending a lot of time around dogs, cats, and other animals is definitely a stress reliever.

Working with Others That Care About Animals

Working each day with other people that love animals has a positive effect on everyone in the workplace. When an animal is injured or sick, they can’t tell us where it hurts. Vet techs must use their problem-solving skills to assist in determining what’s causing the problem and what conclusions to draw to provide the treatment the animal needs.

Vet techs must draw on all the information available to them to diagnosis and treat the animal. Everyone in a veterinary hospital, clinic, or other setting that cares for animals all have the same goal, to heal the animals in their care. Vet techs must draw on all available resources to reach a conclusion, and that means getting the opinion of team members.

An environment in which everyone’s goal is to provide pets with compassionate care makes for a more relaxing environment for the veterinarians, vet techs, and office staff. Pet parents feel more comfortable when they know their pets are getting excellent care, and everyone is working together.

Where a Vet Tech Can Work with a Vet Tech Degree

Earning an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology opens up a world of possibilities for vet tech graduates. When enrolling in a vet tech degree program, students should think about the environment in which they wish to work after graduation. Thinking about their interests and which environment would be most compatible with their expectations of the position. Here are the settings in which vet techs most commonly work.

Vet Practice

The majority of vet techs work in private veterinary practices. The pet parents mainly own dogs and cats, but some practices may also care for small mammals and birds. In a veterinary practice, the vet tech is the first person that interacts with owners and their pets. The vet tech greets the owner and their pet and escorts them to an examining room where they take down the relevant information. For a wellness exam, the vet tech informs the pet parent about updating vaccines, asks if the pet owner has any questions, then assists the vet with the exam.

Animal Hospital

An animal hospital provides more services than the usual wellness, exams, vaccines, spay/neuter surgeries, and dental care. Animal hospitals require a lot more room since pets that are injured, or sick require hospitalization overnight or for several days. A full-service animal hospital has the capability to provide more treatment options and diagnostic services. Vet techs who work in full-service animal hospitals must have extensive training. Among the duties they perform are:

Emergency Animal Hospital

An emergency or critical care vet tech must earn an associate degree from an accredited vet tech school. The duties of critical care vet techs differ from vet techs that work in small animal practice. Certification to validate their expertise in caring for critical patients is required. To work in critical care facilities, a vet tech must have 5,700 hours of practical experience in treating critical care and emergency patients.

Kennel Technician

A vet tech that works in a kennel holds an associate degree in veterinary studies. The duties are different from vet techs that work in an animal hospital or clinic. Their responsibilities include basic tasks like feeding and walking animals and being responsible for administering primary medical treatment. Kennel technicians must have excellent organizational skills since they must feed animals according to a schedule. Kennel technicians are also responsible for mixing prescription foods and administering medications.

The kennel technician must clean and disinfect all the kennels. They are responsible for answering phone calls from pet parents, scheduling appointments, and observing animals for possible signs of illness. The kennel technician is also responsible for contacting the veterinarian if any animal is sick or injured.

ASPCA and Other Associations

When a student has earned an associate’s degree and passed the VTNE, there are a lot of opportunities to work closely with the ASPCA, Best Friends, and other organizations around the country that are dedicated to saving animals and preventing animal cruelty. The ASPCA works around the country to protect animals, especially after natural disasters. All these animals must be examined for illness or injury. Vet techs are needed to assist veterinarians in providing treatment for all these animals.

Best Friends operates an animal sanctuary that provides food, shelter, and medical care for animals, including dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. After being rehabilitated, many of the animals are adopted into forever homes. Those that aren’t adoptable live the remainder of their lives at the sanctuary. All of these animals need veterinary care and vet techs to assist veterinarians with treatments.

Specialties for Vet Techs

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America recognizes specialty areas that require additional education for vet techs to be certified after earning an associate’s degree. Among the specialty areas are Surgical Care, Internal Medicine, Nutrition, Animal Dentistry, Behavior, Zoological Medicine, and Equine Practice.

Knowledge and Skills Learned During a Degree Program

Vet techs work under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. They must possess extensive knowledge and a wide range of different skills to assist veterinarians in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of illnesses and injuries. The work is delicate and highly specialized. Here are some of the skills students must have a knowledge of in order to be a vet tech.

Medication and Education

A vet tech isn’t authorized to diagnose, prescribe medications, or perform surgery. However, they assist veterinarians by dispensing medications and providing pet owners with the information to care for their pets at home. It’s essential to have excellent communication skills. There’s no room to make mistakes. While students are enrolled in a vet tech degree program, they learn the nursing skills necessary to administer vaccines, medications, and treatments prescribed by veterinarians. Students must be able to recognize, prepare, measure, and dispense medications for different species of animals and take coursework in pharmacology skills as part of their degree program. They must also learn how to prep animals and instruments for surgical procedures.

Lab Skills

A vet tech must handle a variety of duties in a lab setting. Skills include knowing how to collect, blood, tissue, and urine samples precisely. Vet techs must also know how to correctly take and develop x-rays. Lab work involves a lot of precise calculations, so students should have a firm grasp of science and math skills.


When the work in the lab is completed, all the information must be documented. Vet techs must have strong organizational and management skills. When a veterinarian diagnoses a patient, all the data must be accurately documented. Accurate records must be kept of each patient. Vet techs may have to handle filing, inventory, and keeping track of patient appointments. In some practices, vet techs may also assist veterinarians with research projects.

Good Observation

Veterinary technicians must be detail-oriented and have excellent observation skills. They must always remain focused on the situation at hand, whether they are caring for animals, discussing a case with the attending veterinarian, or assisting a co-worker. When a pet owner comes in with a pet that is sick or injured, the vet tech must focus on evaluating the animal’s condition and getting the necessary information to convey to the veterinarian.

Patient Management

Students learn the skills they need when they’re studying veterinary technology. However, certain attributes, like a calm and patient demeanor, can’t be learned in school. While the priority is always the care of a pet, it’s essential to remember that the dog, cat, or other pet is a family member. Owners get very upset, frustrated, or even angry when their pet isn’t well. Sometimes they take out their frustrations on the nearest person, who might be the one trying to help.

The most important aspect of a situation like this is to make sure the pet is as relaxed as possible. Speaking in a soothing voice and using a gentle touch can allay the fears of a pet that’s sick or in pain. Try to calm the pet parent by asking questions, to get as much information as possible. It also helps to try to reassure the owner that everything is being done to help their pet.

Final Thoughts

You have different options in where to work after obtaining a vet tech degree from a vocational school. Becoming a vet tech is challenging but rewarding. If you love animals and want to help them stay healthy, getting a vet tech degree may be the right choice for you.

Do you have a love for animals and are interested in a vet tech degree? 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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