Animals are part of the family for many people. Just like humans, animals get sick and need assistance getting back to a healthy condition. No one would think of taking their pet to the same family doctor they see. Veterinary professionals provide invaluable service by ensuring that our beloved animals stay happy and healthy.
Our veterinary career profiles provide specific information about the nature of the work, training, education, salary and much more.
After you read through this page on Veterinary Careers keep browsing our website’s extensive career guide for more information on job options, education requirements and salaries.
Veterinarian Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers
Education and Certifications Veterinarian Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Need
Veterinarian assistant and laboratory animal caretakers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Most employers prefer prior experience with animals. Most veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers receive on-the-job training for their specific duties.
Veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers don’t need certification; however certification demonstrates levels on competency in animal care and related business. The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) offers three certification levels: assistant laboratory animal technician, laboratory animal technician and laboratory animal technologist.
What They Do
For individuals interested in working with and helping animals, but don’t want to attend veterinarian school, a veterinarian assistant career or laboratory animal caretaker career may be the perfect solution. Veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers, under the supervision of a veterinarian, do many of the basic care tasks for non-farm animals.
Veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers play an important role in animal surgeries and overall care, they sterilize all equipment and operating tables, they provide veterinarians tools during surgery, and closely monitor animals after surgery. They also help restrain an animal.
Veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers disinfect kennels, administer medication to animals, perform routine laboratory tests such as x-rays, and collect samples, such as blood, urine, or tissue needed for diagnostic testing.
Veterinarian assistants and laboratory animal caretakers take care of necessary daily tasks such as feeding, bathing, weighing, and taking temperatures of animals.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Essential Career Information
Education and Certifications Veterinarians Need
Becoming a veterinarian involves time and dedication. People interested in a veterinarian career need a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) from an accredited college of veterinary medicine.
Admission to veterinary programs is highly competitive, with fewer than half of the applicants being accepted each year. Veterinary programs include working in the classroom, laboratory, and clinic.
In all states veterinarians need a license to practice. Although licensing requirements vary by state, they all require graduation from an accredited veterinary program and passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Veterinarians usually must obtain a separate state license for each state they wish to practice in.
Technically, a veterinarian may begin practicing as soon as they graduate and earn their license, but many opt to do a one-year residency first, in order to gain more experience.
Certification is not required for veterinarians, but highly recommended, as it demonstrates mastery of skill in specific specializations. Veterinarians may earn certification from the American Veterinary Medical Association in 40 different specialties.
What They Do
Animal owners consider veterinarians irreplaceable; these specially trained professionals diagnose, treat, and research animals. The animals veterinarians work with vary from household pets, to livestock to zoo animals to racetrack animals to laboratory animals.
A veterinarian’s work varies greatly. They see animals for regular check-ups as well as for health concerns, accidents, emergencies, and surgeries. Veterinarians are trained to treat and dress wounds, test for and vaccinate against diseases, and prescribe medication for pain relief or to aid in the animal’s recovery. When nothing more can be done to safely and fairly prolong an animal’s life, veterinarians also euthanize animals.
Veterinarian careers include working with a variety of medical equipment, ranging from small surgical hand tools to x-ray machines.
Companion animal veterinarians mostly see household pets; equine veterinarians work with horses and food animal veterinarians work with livestock such as sheep and cattle.
Food safety and inspection veterinarians inspect livestock and animal products to enforce government regulations for food safety.
Research veterinarian careers include conducting clinical research on human and animal health problems in a laboratory setting.
Essential Career Information
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Education and Certifications Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Need
A veterinary technician career begins with an Associate’s of Veterinary Technology degree, while a veterinary technologist career typically begins with a Bachelor of Veterinary Technology degree. Both types of degrees must come from a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians must become registered, licensed or certified, depending on the state they wish to practice in. Most states require veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination.
Certification is not required, but recommended to demonstrate additional specialty and competency to future employers.
Veterinary technologists seeking to work in a research facility may obtain one of the following three levels of certification offered through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: Assistant laboratory animal technician, laboratory animal technician, or laboratory animal technologist.
What They Do
Veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians are indispensable to veterinarians, as they provide a substantial amount of active medical care to animals, while under the veterinarian’s supervision.
While working directly with the veterinarian, a veterinary technologist and veterinary technician helps perform an array of medical tests, take x-rays, and helps diagnose animal illnesses and injuries.
Some veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians perform dental care on animals.
Veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians help administer first aid to animals brought in with an emergency. They may also help prepare animals for surgery and administer anesthesia then monitor the animal’s reactions to the anesthetic.
Veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians may work anywhere from a private clinic to an animal hospital to a veterinary testing laboratory. They may also specialize in dental technology, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, or zoological medicine.
Veterinarian technologists generally have a bachelor’s degree. Some veterinary technologists work in private clinical practices, however many veterinarian techs work in advanced research-related jobs, often under the guidance of a veterinarian or a scientist.
Veterinary technicians typically have an associate’s degree and work in private clinical practices under a veterinarian’s supervision.