Careers in Veterinary Technology

What is a Certified Veterinary Technician?

dog and Vet. Tech. student making a howling face

Veterinary technicians are compassionate professionals dedicated to animal health care and well being. Certified veterinary technicians are vital members of the complete veterinary health care team. They are trusted with medical responsibilities that include animal nursing care, laboratory specimen analysis, surgical assistance, anesthesia, radiographic imaging (x-ray), nutritional management, dental prophylaxis, physical therapy and client education. With this wide range of responsibilities, the veterinary technician can have a significant impact on every aspect of patient care. Historically, veterinarians trained their own employees in-house, a practice that continues today, with one exception: It is now mainly a supplement to formal education.

What will I do on the job?

As a veterinary technician, you may help veterinarians, biological researchers, and scientists. As part of your duties, you may obtain and record patient information and make appointments; treat and bandage wounds; clean and polish teeth; collect blood, fluid, urine and fecal specimens; perform hematology, microbiology, urinalysis, cytology and fecal laboratory tests; use X-ray equipment and process X-ray film; prepare and administer medications and fluid therapy; anesthetize and monitor anesthetized patients; prepare patients for surgery and postoperative recovery and help in diagnostic, medical and surgical procedures. You may also educate clients on responsible pet ownership and preventive health care, assist scientists with research projects, restrain patients, clean animal housing equipment, maintain and inventory supplies, and administer vaccinations (except Rabies and Brucellosis).

What skills will I use on the job?

Our program will develop your knowledge and skills in performing physical examinations and taking patient history, providing nursing care for the hospitalized patient, administering medication and vaccines, performing clinical laboratory procedures, performing dental prophylaxis, taking radiographs, administering and monitoring anesthesia, assisting in surgery, offering client education, and managing a veterinary office, staff and inventory. Students have the opportunity to work closely with many animals – large, small, laboratory, exotic and farm animals both on campus and in the field.

Who will hire me?

Most veterinary technicians work in veterinary hospitals and clinics. You may also find job opportunities in laboratories and research facilities, such as Oregon Health & Science University, the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center and state universities. There are also positions opening in zoo and wildlife parks, pet stores, animal control agencies and animal welfare shelters.

How much can I earn?

The average starting wage is $26,000 per year. In Oregon, the entry-level wage for certified veterinary technicians in a small animal practice ranges from $9 to $15 per hour. Hourly rates may be higher in specialty practices such as surgery or emergency care, or in research and industry. There is a strong demand for graduates from our program.