What Are the Duties of a Veterinary Tech?

by Linda Ray

Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in the testing, diagnosis and treatment of illness and injuries of animals. They work in a variety of settings, such as clinics, animal hospitals or laboratories. A specialized two-year degree is required to practice in this field and certification requirements vary by state. Vet techs earned a median pay of $29,710 per year in 2010 in a field that is growing dramatically faster than other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts these jobs will grow by 52 percent through 2020, which compares to an average growth of 14 percent expected for all U.S. jobs for the same period.

Basic Care

First and foremost, vet techs are responsible for the humane housing and treatment of animals. Whether they work in a small clinic or in a zoo, the basic focus is on creating a safe and nurturing atmosphere for the animals. This normally means that the vet tech must attend to the regular feeding, grooming, cleaning and exercise of the animals. Maintaining a clean and hospitable living space for animals is critical. Even in short-term intensive care settings, the vet tech must make sure that the animals get the proper attention, such as administration of medication, intravenous maintenance or treatment through specialized machines when needed.

Direct Assistance

Although working relationships may vary in their details, a vet tech is supposed to provide the primary veterinarian with whatever assistance is needed to treat the animals. This commonly includes assistance with surgery, administering medication, operating machinery or just overseeing treatment in general and providing assistance on an as-needed basis. Vet techs enable primary veterinarians to delegate duties and to prioritize more efficiently. Vet techs also need to have a solid-enough knowledge of animal care that they are able to independently respond to a crisis or any situation that needs immediate attention.


Vet techs also commonly have a variety of clerical duties. Primarily, they need to keep up with the patient histories of the anim,als, keeping records up to date and organizing files. During a particular animal's stay, this could mean continued monitoring and recording of things such as administration of medication, vital signs, food intake and any other relevant indicators of the animal's health that can be regularly observed. Vet techs also collect samples such as blood or urine for analysis and record the results from lab and x-ray tests. They also maintain machinery in the facility.

Customer Contact

Vet techs also assist in communicating with interested parties, such as the owners of the animals or other businesses. For example, a vet tech might update the owner of the pet on the results of treatment regimens. They can also help to admit animals and work the front desk. Dealing with billing and insurance information is also a job commonly delegated to the vet tech. Vet techs might also be in charge of ordering supplies and medication, and making arrangements for the inspection and maintenance of the facilities and its equipment by state and local regulatory agencies.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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