What a Vet Wants from their Vet Tech
Every veterinarian knows the value of an exceptional veterinary technician. Hard work and a good education will get you the initia
Veterinary medicine is a rewarding career with a variety of paths available for professionals working in the field. While most vet techs work in small or large animal general practices, there are other career options out there for those who have a special interest in something a little less typical. If you’re curious about some of the lesser known paths that vet techs have available, keep reading to learn just how unique the vet tech profession can be.
Zoo Vet Tech
Zoo vet techs work alongside zoo veterinarians in caring for animals in a zoo, wildlife rehabilitation center, or reservation. They possess skills and knowledge on a variety of species and promote conservation and education in addition to providing medical care. To work as a zoo veterinary technician, you must first possess your credentials as a licensed vet tech in the state you’re planning to work in after successful competition of an accredited vet tech program. From there, it is important to become a member of The Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians (AZVT). Once you’re a member and actively working in the field, you can start gaining eligibility to apply for the exam to become certified from the Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians (AVZMT). The minimum requirements to apply include:
Laboratory Vet Tech
Lab vet techs work in research and development at a universities and private labs, managing a facility, assisting in the treatment of sick or injured animals, working in preventive health, and caring and feeding the animals. Vet techs can also work in the food industry, working in nutrition, caring for the animals, and processing lab samples. Other laboratory careers could include working in a pathology department or clinical lab processing and analyzing samples as well as distributing results. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) even recognizes The Academy of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians and Nurses (VTS/VNS-LAM) and The Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians (AVCPT) as specialties.
Marine or Aquatic Animal Vet Tech
If you have a passion for marine biology, marine animals, and aquariums, working as an aquatic animal vet tech might be the career for you. Large aquariums such as SeaWorld are able to staff a whole veterinary medical team, meaning there are often open spots for dedicated vet techs to come on board. While it isn’t usually required, it is helpful to have a degree in marine biology or a background in zoological medicine.
Humane Society/Shelter Vet Tech
Are you committed to animal welfare with a passion for surgery? If so, you might consider working as a vet tech in a humane society or animal shelter. Options include anything from an animal control officer, spay and neuter clinic tech, surgical assistant, and even emergency medicine, intaking critical patients. The downside is you may have to be involved in more euthanasia than in general practice depending on the type of shelter you work for. The ASPCA has great information and resources for vet tech careers this setting.
Rehab and Physical Therapy Vet Tech
As a veterinary technician working in rehab and physical therapy, you will be working to relieve pain, improve comfort, and encourage healing in animals that have gone through orthopedic surgeries, sustained injuries that result in difficult mobility or immobility, or those that need to improve their athletic condition or stamina. This career includes many supportive modalities such as acupuncture, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, underwater treadmills, pools, various obstacles, and other unique equipment and treatments. The NAVTA recognizes The Academy of Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technicians (APRVT), as a specialty if you’re interested in furthering your skill set. You can even work with large animals! If you are more specifically interested in pain management, you can become a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP). These qualifications could have you working as part of a surgical team, in a rehab center as part of a teach hospital, in a private practice, or as a general practice.
Teaching Hospital Vet Tech
Another unique and popular choice for vet techs is to work teaching at a veterinary school. Most vet schools have a clinical department where they actively see patients and need vet techs to help teach vet tech students, veterinary medical students, and to assist the veterinarians in their practice. Here, you could work in surgery, anesthesia, emergency medicine, dermatology, ophthalmology, equine medicine or surgery, large animal surgery, and even laboratories such as clinical pathology, or anatomic pathology.
Dermatology Clinic Vet Tech
The Academy of Dermatology Veterinary Technicians (ADVT) is the main organization for vet techs who have a special interest in diagnosing and treating skin ailments and diseases in animals both small and large. Working alongside a veterinary dermatologist, vet techs help evaluate patients, perform diagnostic lab tests, participate in research and development, and document health cases for medical records. Vet techs working in this field see to it that patients are treated in a timely and consistent manner to shorten the period of suffering and to limit the spread of possible infections.
Veterinary Practice Management
Whether you have worked in clinical practice for several years and are looking for a change, or if you prefer the business and management side of veterinary medicine, practice management presents a plethora of unique opportunities for you as a vet tech. Having your veterinary technician license gives you the clinical and medical background to help run a veterinary practice. Your expertise will help veterinarians and other technical and support staff run a smooth and successful practice. Most veterinary practice management positions require a certificate in Veterinary Practice Management. Penn Foster offers such a certificate and the VBMA offers a Business Certificate Program. The Balance Careers also has some great information about veterinary practice management.
Behavior & Training
If you enjoy working with dogs in behavior and training, you may consider a career in it! You don’t need any special qualifications to train animals, but as a vet tech, you have a unique skill set and knowledge in science and medicine which can be helpful in behavior and training. The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (AVBT), offers specialty training in this field. According to the AVBT, to specialize you must have an interest and knowledge in behavior modification, problem prevention, training, and behavior health.
Animal Nutrition Vet Tech
Pet owners may not think of their animal’s diet with the same importance as they do their own, but nutrition impacts nearly every aspect of an animal’s health. Vet techs interested in how an animal’s diet affects their overall health may choose to go into the veterinary nutrition field where they will work with pet-owners to prioritize good animal nutrition. Vet techs working in this specialty will assist veterinarians’ access and treat the symptoms of a poor diet including, arthritis, tumors, heart conditions, and more.
On top of these unique careers for vet techs, there are a number of vet tech specialties that give those with special interests even more opportunity to work in the specific area they are most passionate about. To learn more, check out the 4 most popular vet tech specialties. As you can see, there are many career opportunities for veterinary technicians outside general practice and these are just a few, but the options are endless, so go explore!