Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians (NOC 3213)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians provide technical support to veterinarians by caring for animals and assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of animal health disorders. Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians who are supervisors are included in this unit group.

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Registered animal health technician


People in this occupation:

  • may conduct medical laboratory tests, set up, clean and maintain medical laboratory equipment, as well as collect and prepare specimens for testing
  • work in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, animal shelters, humane societies, zoos, animal research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and government
  • should enjoy working with animals
  • should also be able follow direction and conduct medical tests
  • must be process oriented and understand the importance of following procedures
  • should be detail oriented
  • should have good computer skills
Common job titles
  • assistant, veterinarian
  • supervisor, veterinary technician
  • technician, registered veterinary (RVT)
  • technologist, laboratory animal
  • technologist, registered animal health

Duties

Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians perform some or all of the following duties:

  • provide nursing care and rehabilitation therapy for animals
  • handle, restrain and care for animals undergoing treatment and surgery
  • produce radiographs, collect samples and perform other laboratory tests to assist in diagnosis of animal health problems
  • assist veterinarian with animals before, during and following surgery 
  • prepare surgical equipment, give and monitor anesthetics, and clean up after surgery
  • prepare and give medications and vaccines under direction of veterinarian
  • give treatments as prescribed by a veterinarian
  • provide wound and bandage care
  • do specialized procedures such as animal identification and hoof trimming
  • talk to clients about animal health care including nutrition and home care
  • do laboratory research
  • do routine animal dental procedures, and help veterinarians with animal dentistry
  • may do various office management and clerical duties

Work environment

Full-time veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians work 40–50 hours per week. They work indoors in veterinary clinics, which are often noisy. Emergency call-out work may sometimes be required.

Stress is often associated with treating abused animals or putting down animals. The work can also be physically demanding since veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians have to lift, hold or restrain animals, risking bites or scratches. Safety precautions reduce risk of injury.

Workers may also feel a sense of accomplishment in caring for the animals.

Insights from industry

Many new openings will result from the need to replace those who retire.

Spending on veterinary services has doubled over the last 10 years due to the increasing number of pets in North America, as well as the fact that more pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. Pet owners are more willing to spend money for involved veterinary procedures to extend the life of their animals. This trend is creating an increased demand for veterinary services, and is increasing job opportunities for veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians.

Recent outbreaks of diseases in farm animals, such as avian influenza and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, are also increasing the demand for veterinary diagnostic services and the services of veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

With experience, veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians may progress to supervisory positions.

Additional resources