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What is a Vet Tech?

When you take your pet to an animal hospital, do you ever wonder what or who is a vet tech? Vet tech, short for veterinary technicians, are like nurses for the animal world. Veterinary technicians are educated on the care and handling of animals and learn the basic principles of normal and abnormal life processes in clinical procedures.

A veterinary technician’s duties are focused on the animals. Duties can include assisting the veterinarian in surgical procedures, handling, and restraining animals during exams and procedures. Technicians collect samples from animals and perform diagnostic testing; they also sedate and anesthetize animals, monitor animals under anesthesia during surgery, and then recover the animal once out of surgery. Other duties include nursing care and animal observation, administering medication, therapeutic bathing, taking x-rays, and providing emergency care to critically ill animals.


What are the education requirements for a Vet Tech?

To become a vet tech, you have to finish a two-year veterinary technician education program to earn your associate degree. Earning a degree that only takes two years allows you to enter the workforce sooner and helps you quickly learn the ropes in this field. 

Every state is different, but most require the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). This exam covers several key areas to access your knowledge of entry-level veterinary technician education. Pharmacy and pharmacology, surgical preparation and assisting, dentistry procedures, laboratory procedures, animal nursing, radiography and ultrasound, and anesthesia are the essential areas of knowledge you should be proficient in. Since licensure and certification rules vary by state, you should be sure to check your state’s board of health for specific requirements

In Kentucky, the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) is required by law to become a licensed veterinary technician. If you pass the VTNE, then you can register through the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners. You will not be actively licensed until you are employed under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. To keep your license active, you must complete six hours of continuing education annually.


What is Vet Tech’s salary?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a licensed veterinary technician is $34,000. A vet tech’s salary depends on their licensing and their past work experience. 


What type of skills should a Vet Tech have?

A vet tech should be able to stay calm under pressure. Working with animals can be difficult because they do not always cooperate, so you need to be able to remain calm and have patience during those situations. Veterinary technicians help with filing and other office duties, and it is helpful to be detail-oriented. Being an excellent communicator is also a valued skill as communication is critical in veterinary clinical settings. 

What are the recommended qualities? A love for animals is an essential quality of a vet tech. A positive attitude and high ethical standards are also crucial in a clinical setting. Veterinary technicians should be able to find creative solutions in stressful situations. Also, it is beneficial to be able to work in groups and have exceptional teamwork abilities. 

Equine Veterinary Technician

Equine Veterinary Technician

Vet Tech Career Paths

Vet techs with an associate degree of applied science in veterinary technology can pursue 16 different specialties. Veterinary Technical Specialties can range from dentistry to equine nursing. Below is a brief description of a few specialties that a veterinary technician can choose from.  

Veterinary Surgical Technician

A veterinary surgical technician is trained to assist veterinarians during surgical procedures. If you are interested in surgical vet tech, try and seek out exposure to the surgical environment. Then, as a vet tech, you may apply for credentials through the Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians (AVST). This would require 10,000 hours in the clinical vet tech setting and 6,000 of those hours in the surgical environment. Applicants must also complete 40 hours of continuing education, a case log review, two letters of recommendation, and a passing score on the exam. 

Veterinary Nutrition Technician

This role of a vet tech is aimed at ensuring animals receive adequate diets and supplements if need be. In order to become an animal nutrition technician, you must have vet tech certification. The applicant must obtain 4,000 hours of work experience in the animal nutrition field and 40 hours of continuing education related to veterinary nutrition. 

Veterinary Zoological Technician 

This position is a vet tech in the zoo environment. The responsibilities may include helping with surgeries, routine checkups, facilities sterilization, patient record-keeping, or emergency procedures. This can take place in a refuge, zoo, or wildlife park. In order to become a veterinary zoological technician, the applicant should apply for the certification exam from the Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians. In order to be eligible, candidates need 10,000 hours of work experience in the field of zoo medicine, 40 hours of continuing education in zoological medicine, successfully completing the advanced skills list and a case log of 40 medical or surgical cases. 

Animal Behavior Technician 

An animal behavior technician offers behavioral techniques to promote healthy habits among animals. In order to become an animal behavior technician, applicants must apply for certification through the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (AVBT). In order to be considered, you must have 4,000 hours of work experience in the field of animal behavior, 40 hours of continuing education, a clinical case log, five case reports, and two letters of recommendation. 


MedQuest College currently offers a variety of allied healthcare education including Medical Assisting, Dental Assisting, Practical Nursing, Sonography, and Medical Equipment Repair. Veterinary Technology is an associate degree program that MedQuest’s Lexington campus is now offering. All of our career-focused, high-demand programs must be approved by ABHES prior to enrollment. To learn more about this process contact our Lexington campus at 859-643-8765.