Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians (NOC 3213)

Worker in scrubs with stethoscope

Minimum education: Diploma, Certificate or Apprenticeship Training

  • Average salary
  • Occupation size
  • Job stability
  • Demand growth
  • Below Average
  • Excellent

Profile last updated: August 31, 2016

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01 Overview

Veterinary and animal health technologists and 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.

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

02 Earnings

Provincial median salary


Source: Estimated median employment income based on 2015 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • $12.00/hr
  • $17.00/hr
  • $22.57/hr

03 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

04 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.

05 Workforce and employment statistics

Workforce characteristics

1,900 workers are employed
43 % of workers are working mostly full time

Employment by gender

Labour force by age group

Source: 2011 National Household Survey

06 Job requirements

Education, training and qualifications

Completion of a two- or three-year veterinary or animal health technology diploma or a related program is required.

In B.C., registration with the Animal Health Technologists Association of British Columbia (AHTA) is available to veterinary and animal health technologists who have completed an accredited training program and passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). For more information, please see the AHTA website at

07 Subject Areas & Training Resources


08 Career paths

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

09Employment outlook

N/A - Data not available or not provided due to data quality issues

Provincial Outlook:

Unemployment rate

  • 4.7%
  • 4.5%
  • 3.6%

Job openings

  • 2015
  • 30
  • 40

10 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.

11 In their own words

My Career Path

1.  How did you get started in this job?

I knew I wanted to work with animals since I was 10 years old. I went to the vet clinic to work when I was 10 but they told me to come back when I was 14. So I started working there one day a week and got to know how everything worked. At first I wanted to become a vet but then I decided that I wanted to become a veterinary technician instead because I liked what they did and the schooling is shorter.

2.  If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?

Not really. Maybe I wouldn't have gone to the college I went to as I learned skills for small and large animals. I mostly like working with small animals so I could have stayed in B.C. and gone to college here where the program is only for small animals.

3.  What would you say to someone starting out in this career today?

It's important to get actual experience working in a clinic to know if this is what you want to do. It's a requirement to get into college but it's also a way to make connections for future employment.

4.  Where do you see yourself going with this job in the future?

For now I'm really happy working as a vet technician in this clinic so I don't really see any changes coming up. Maybe in the future I'll want to change but this is where I want to be now.

5.  What are some of the main forces of change in the industry right now? How will those affect you?

There are now blood banks for animals, which is new. Also, high-tech equipment is becoming more affordable so we're starting to use new technologies in the clinic. This will bring up the standards of surgery and also for diagnosing animals.

A typical workday

8:00 am The Veterinary Clinic- I arrive at the clinic before the vet and feed, walk and medicate the animals that are staying at the clinic.
8:30 am The vet arrives for the first appointments of the day. I assist, if needed. I also prepare the surgery room and the animals that will be operated on.
9:30 am I clean the animals and give them anaesthetics. We do mostly spays and neutering, as well as dental work. Sometimes there's a broken leg to set or another wound to be looked at.
1:00 pm We mostly do appointments in the afternoon. I usually help the vet hold the animals while they get their shots.
4:00 pm For the last hour of the day, the animals' owners come to collect them. I need to let owners know about the medication and care their pets will need at home.


12 Additional resources