An animal technician provides care to animals with the supervision of a veterinarian. There are two main groups of animal technicians who pursue different educational paths to start their careers. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in clinical settings, acting like nurses to the veterinarian's doctor. Laboratory animal technicians work with lab animals, making sure the animals receive appropriate care during studies and experiments. Both jobs require education and successful passage of a licensing exam.
This work can be challenging, whether people work in veterinary clinics or laboratory settings. Stress levels can be high, and working with animals can be dirty, as well as emotionally draining when people must deal with situations like animal abuse or illness. Veterinary technicians often deal directly with pet owners who may be upset or worried about their animals, and this can add to the stress. In facilities where euthanasia is routinely performed, an animal technician may develop psychological distress.
Animal technicians can perform basic procedures on animals, and may have a variety of job duties, depending on where they work. Their work can include taking samples for analysis, performing basic physical examinations, charting, and doing procedures like dental work. Animal technicians can administer and supervise anesthesia while veterinarians perform surgery, and an animal technician can give injections and provide other basic medical interventions. Basic animal care like cleaning kennels is usually performed by a kennel attendant.
Animal technician training includes several years in school to learn about biology, medical ethics, and the basics of medical procedures. Technicians typically work in clinics or labs while in school to get practical experience, and are also provided with clinical opportunities as part of their education. After school, students can apply for certification. In they pass the examination, they are certified as animal technicians. Certification for veterinary and laboratory technicians is done separately in most nations, although labs can hire veterinary technicians as well as lab technicians.
Available compensation varies. People who pursue continuing education and have advanced skill levels are usually more valuable to their employers and may make more money. Experience is also helpful, as is special training in a particular area like equine reproductive medicine or primate care. The work may come with benefits, but can also include unusual working hours; an animal technician may need to be on duty in a facility 24 hours a day for complete animal safety, and the individual shift work can be stressful.