9 Veterinary Technician Careers Profiled

Veterinary technician careers are growing in demand as medical research advances in the veterinary field. Some studies reveal between 6-8 career opportunities for one technician.

Career Opportunities

Traditionally, there are two main technician careers: Small animal veterinary technician, those that work with small animals (such as cats, dogs and other pets), and large animal veterinary technicians that work with large farm animals (such as horses, goats and cows). However, there are now more opportunities for veterinary assistants to specialize in, including:

  • Animal Dentistry
  • Animal Ophthalmics
  • Animal Orthopedics
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Equines
  • Exotics
  • Zoo and Wildlife

Small Animal Veterinary Technician

Typically, small animal veterinary technicians work in a clinic, but may choose to work at a research facility or lab. These techs assist licensed vets in treating pets, such as cats, dogs, rabbits and parrots. Their duties include preparing animals and instruments for surgery, obtaining and testing samples and specimens, obtaining patient histories, assisting in surgical procedures, taking and exposing x-rays, and educating animal owners. They are not allowed to diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication, nor perform surgery without a licensed vet's supervision.

Large Animal Veterinary Technician

Large Animal Veterinary Technician generally assist large animal vets with care for farm animals, such as horses, dairy cows, livestock, pigs, goats, sheep and chicken. These techs usually work for university agricultural science programs and/or private practices and owners. Like small animal vet techs, large animal vet techs assist licensed vets in surgeries and collecting samples, but also do vaccinations for entire herds, de-horning animals and livestock birthing. The work environment varies, including traveling to farms, ranches and stables, but there also work in labs and clinics where collected samples are tested.


Both types of vet technician need to complete an accredited 2-year program at a technical college in order to become certified or licensed in the field depending on their state's requirement. Additional schooling, courses and years of education can lead to specialization in a particular field, such as animal dentistry. However, to specialize in a particular field, a vet technician must first determine whether to go into the field of large animals, small animals or a combination of the two.