What Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Do
Veterinary technologists and technicians do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.
Veterinary technologists and technicians work in private clinics, laboratories, and animal hospitals. Their jobs may be physically or emotionally demanding. Many work evenings, weekends, or holidays.
How to Become a Veterinary Technologist or Technician
Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. Technologists usually need a 4-year bachelor’s degree, and technicians need a 2-year associate’s degree. Typically, both technologists and technicians must take a credentialing exam and become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the requirements of the state in which they work.
The median annual wage for veterinary technologists and technicians was $35,320 in May 2019.
Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment is expected to grow as veterinarians continue to use technicians and technologists to do general care and lab work on household pets.
Veterinary technologists and technicians, supervised by licensed veterinarians, do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.
Veterinary technologists and technicians typically do the following:
- Observe the behavior and condition of animals
- Provide nursing care or emergency first aid to recovering or injured animals
- Bathe animals, clip nails or claws, and brush or cut animals’ hair
- Restrain animals during exams or procedures
- Administer anesthesia to animals and monitor their responses
- Take x rays and collect and perform laboratory tests, such as urinalyses and blood counts
- Prepare animals and instruments for surgery
- Administer medications, vaccines, and treatments prescribed by a veterinarian
- Collect and record animals’ case histories
In addition to helping veterinarians during animal exams, veterinary technologists and technicians do a variety of clinical, care, and laboratory tasks.
Veterinary technologists and technicians who work in research-related jobs ensure that animals are handled carefully and are treated humanely. They may help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety.
Typically working with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, veterinary technologists and technicians also may have tasks that involve mice, cattle, or other animals.
Veterinary technologists and technicians may specialize in a particular discipline, such as dentistry, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.
Veterinary technologists typically work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist or veterinarian. Some technologists work in private clinical practices. Working primarily in a laboratory setting, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record an animal’s genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain.
Veterinary technicians generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may do laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although they do some of their work in a laboratory, technicians also talk with animal owners. For example, they explain a pet’s condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Veterinary technologists and technicians held about 112,900 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of veterinary technologists and technicians were as follows:
|Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||4|
|Social advocacy organizations||2|
Veterinary technologists and technicians typically work in private clinics and animal hospitals. They also may work in laboratories, colleges and universities, and humane societies.
Their jobs may be physically or emotionally demanding. For example, they may witness abused animals or may need to help euthanize sick, injured, or unwanted animals.
Injuries and Illnesses
Veterinary technologists and technicians risk injury on the job. They may be bitten, scratched, or kicked while working with scared or aggressive animals. Injuries may happen while the technologist or technician is holding, cleaning, or restraining an animal.
Veterinary technologists and technicians may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of veterinary technologists and technicians.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Animal Care and Service Workers
Animal care and service workers attend to animals.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$24,990|
Radiologic and MRI Technologists
Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images.
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.
Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations.
|Postsecondary nondegree award||$35,510|
Surgical technologists assist in surgical operations.
|Postsecondary nondegree award||$48,300|
Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to protect public health.
|Doctoral or professional degree||$95,460|
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers handle routine animal care and help scientists, veterinarians, and others with their daily tasks.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$28,590|
For information about careers in veterinary medicine and a listing of AVMA-accredited veterinary technology programs, visit
For more information about becoming a veterinary technician or technologist, visit
National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
For information about certification as a laboratory animal technician or technologist, visit
For information about the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), visit
Related BLS articles
Beyond the Numbers: “Ahead of the pack: why are veterinary occupations growing much faster than average?“
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm (visited ).