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.
Communication skills are often emphasized so that prospective veterinary technicians can connect with pet owners and work efficiently with veterinarians. However, some classes are needed to satisfy general education requirements in the humanities as well as the basic sciences. Once students have earned their associate's degree, they might be ready to sit for national and state examinations administered by the state veterinary medical board.
Veterinary technologists and technicians handle lab work, radiology, nursing care, surgery assistance and dozens of other tasks related to animal health care. "We do everything except diagnose, prescribe and do surgery," says Julie Legred, a veterinary technician and executive director at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. They often work in private clinics and animal hospitals, assisting veterinarians with the care of animals. While the job might sound like a lot of fun, Legred is quick to point out that "it's not just holding puppies." She adds, "You're not going to make a lot of money, you have to pick up poo and you get peed on." In other words, the work isn't glamorous, so only those with a real commitment to animal care tend to stay in the field.
Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.
Medical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. They also may review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients’ medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.
A pharmacy technician is a health care provider who performs pharmacy-related functions, generally working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations (usually in community, retail, and hospital pharmacies), but can also work for long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, third-party insurance companies, computer software companies, or in government or teaching. Job duties include dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients and instructing on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with doctor's offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment is received.
Technicians' additional training allows them to perform tasks that include administering anesthesia, and medicating and vaccinating animals. Assistants feed and bathe animals, prepare examination and operating rooms, and may also perform clerical duties. State laws regulate what those working in each occupation are permitted to do. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website provides a state-by-state guide to specified duties of assistants and technicians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 75% of pharmacy technicians in the U.S. work in a retail setting, such as an independently owned drugstore, a mass retailer chain, or a mail-order or online pharmacy. An additional 16% of pharmacy technician jobs were in hospitals, while others worked for nursing homes, pharmaceutical wholesalers, or the Federal Government. To work in any of these settings, certain requirements must be met. Requirements vary by state.
Most technicians are certified — the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is earned by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) — and have completed several hundred hours of on-the-job training in order to be able to work with different prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and abide by ethical standards. Basic job duties include dosing medications and filling prescription orders, taking care of administrative tasks, and handling basic customer service duties at the counter. Some pharmacy techs lead a team of pharmacy staff members as a lead pharmacy technician. Others may be responsible for managing supply and inventory or providing pertinent information to other healthcare professionals.
The AVTA exists to promote interest in the discipline of veterinary anesthesia. The Academy will provide a process by which veterinary technicians may become certified as a Veterinary Technician Specialist-Anesthesia. The veterinary technician who becomes certified as a VTS (Anesthesia) demonstrates superior knowledge in the care and management of anesthesia cases.
If you are an aspiring veterinary technician, attend a two-year veterinary technology program that has received accreditation from the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). You will usually earn an associate degree upon completing such a program. Find a list of accredited programs in the United States and Canada on the AVMA website: Veterinary Technology Programs Accredited by the AVMA CVTEA.
Veterinary technologists and technicians earn two- or four-year degrees in veterinary technology. While they share many of the same responsibilities, technologists typically hold four-year bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology, whereas technicians hold two-year associate degrees. They must also pass an exam and become certified, licensed or registered, depending on the state. Strong science and math backgrounds are essential, Legred says, since much of the job involves drug calculations and lab tests.
A degree program is generally two years and results in a full academic degree, an associate’s degree (AA), that will distinguish your credentials and provide a foundation on which to build. That is, when you complete an AA, you will have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a full, four-year degree later on. Even if you never return to college again, having a full degree will be worthwhile. The additional courses will inform you as a person and professional, expanding your ability to communicate and understand your patients.
As a technician, you’ll make sure that our household brand names maintain the high level of quality that consumers expect, while helping P&G achieve performance goals. Want to gain new skills to help run and maintain the latest production technology and equipment for the world’s biggest brands? We’re looking for team players who know how to take charge of business-related challenges and keep us running smoothly.