When thinking about different types of veterinary technician careers, employment with a private veterinary practice might be what first comes to mind. The majority of veterinary technicians work in private practices, caring for both small and large animals. Veterinary technicians also work for zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, marine institutions and other facilities that house wild animals. They work in laboratories, performing biomedical research. Veterinary technician careers also can be pursued at humane societies, animal shelters, feed and drug companies, schools and more.
Veterinary technicians who work in private practices perform a variety of duties. They obtain patient histories, counsel animal owners and provide nursing care to animals. They prepare animals and equipment for surgery and act as surgical nurses to veterinarians. Veterinary technicians manage veterinary offices and train and supervise personnel. They collect specimens from patients and perform laboratory procedures.
Private practice veterinary technician careers can include working with a variety of animals. In small animal practices, the majority of animals are cats and dogs, but some veterinary offices also will see what are considered exotics in the veterinary world, such as rabbits, rodents, reptiles and birds. Some small animal veterinary offices specialize in a particular animal species, such as cats, birds or reptiles.
Veterinary technicians working in large animal practices might visit ranches and farms to care for cows and sheep, or they might work for veterinarians who specialize in horses, known as equine veterinarians. In large animal practices, some veterinary technicians spend most of their time in the field, and others work behind the scenes developing X-rays and working in the lab at the office. Some veterinary technicians work for practices that specialize in equine dentistry, or they might work for practices that specialize in caring for the teeth of cats and dogs. Another specialty area within private veterinary practices is emergency services.
Technicians working at zoos and other places that house wildlife care for elephants, rhinos, big cats, porpoises and a wide variety of other wild animals. Depending on where they work, duties performed by people in these veterinary technician careers might include such things as collecting cardiac blood from a snake, testing water quality in a shark tank or administering a tuberculosis test to a chimpanzee or another primate. Understanding quarantine protocols and recognizing disease in quarantined animals sometimes are among the many responsibilities in this career.
Biomedical research veterinary technicians work with laboratory animals. They might work at universities, pharmaceutical companies or other research facilities. They perform many of the same care duties as veterinary technicians in private veterinary practices, and they help implement research projects while ensuring humane care and handling of the research animals.
Veterinary technician careers with humane organizations and animal shelters involve caring for animals, and it also can involve euthanizing unwanted animals. Veterinary technicians teach in vet tech and vet assistant educational programs. They work in sales and development for animal drug and products companies. Other types of veterinary technician careers are found in the military, food safety industry, animal behavior practices and elsewhere.