April 2022

In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blogAmy Johnson, RLATG, LVT, CVJ discusses career choices for veterinary technicians. If you’re burnt out from your position, learn what other options you have as a veterinary technician! Learn it with this VETgirl blog!

Career choices for veterinary technicians

Veterinary technicians – do you love working in veterinary medicine, but need a change? This field experiences so much burnout and disappointment at the thought we have no room for advancement. Many technicians will hit this point and leave the field altogether. The best way to avoid leaving a field you love is to re-invent yourself within it!

As veterinary technicians, we have a multitude of options open to us! Whether you are looking to make a change or a new technician looking for their first job, here are just a few career options open to us.

One of the more popular positions for veterinary technicians is in laboratory diagnostics and research.

Diagnostics

Many veterinary reference labs and other veterinary diagnostic centers have positions for veterinary technicians. Do you love clinical pathology and diagnostics? Check these positions out!

microscope focused in on the lenses

Research

Research facilities have numerous roles that veterinary technicians can fill. Many animal husbandry roles are filled by veterinary technicians, most facilities have a veterinary technician department to help care for the animals, and veterinary technicians may find themselves working in research labs as professional research assistants (PRA) as a part of the research studies. From personal experience – the smaller the animal, the bigger the paycheck.

White mouse on the hand of a person with a blue glove

There are options that would allow you to be self-employed.

Consultant

You will find many technicians who have specialized working as consultants. Whether you are doing nutrition consultations or behavior appointments with pet owners or inventory management consulting with a practice, there is a big need for these types of services.

young woman business consultant working on an evaluation

In-home Services

I have seen the recent rise of technicians striking out on their own offering different at-home pet care services including anal gland expression, nail trims, and other procedures allowed by the state practice act.

Young woman working as veterinary, vet talking to dog owner on house call. Animal doctor during visit of ill pet at home.

Veterinary associations and non-profits have positions for veterinary technicians.

Professional

Veterinary professional organizations including state VMAs, state vet tech associations, AAHA, NAVTA, and many more have positions for veterinary technicians.

board room with chairs around the table and a computer on the desk

Non-profit

Non-profit associations like shelters, wildlife rehab, and rescues tend to be run with a base of volunteers but may hire veterinary technicians for their animal care expertise.

A baby raccoon covered with ticks at an animal rehab facility.

Do you have to leave clinical practice to re-invent yourself? The answer is NO!

Here are some things you can do within clinical practice while still making the change that you seek.

Specialization

Pursuing and maintaining a veterinary technician specialist (VTS) title or other specialty certificates/accreditations can change what you are able to do in a practice. These technicians have higher-level skills that allow them to do more with less supervision. They can have tasks in management, training, protocol setting, client education, and many other areas.

Dentistry technician cleans the teeth of a dog with ultrasound device. Clean white teeth in the animal

Relief

Many technicians have made the leap to doing relief work. Relief work is great for those with demanding personal schedules as it allows you to work when YOU want.  You can make your own hours that work with your schedule and decide where you want to work (and more importantly where you don’t).

Veterinary technician and his patient, a husky wearing an e-collar

Practice Manager

Many veterinary technicians have made the jump to practice management. You know the medical side of the practice, that’s half the battle. If management interests you start getting some management/leadership experience and training (if you don’t already have it) and let your practice leadership know this is something you are interested in. With support from them and some training, this is a transition you can make.

A practice manager talking with a vet/tech in scrubs with a tablet in her hand

Practice Owner

Want to own your own business and have the business acumen to do it? Start by checking out your state laws to see what ownership requirements exist. You will want to hire a lawyer to help you navigate the ins and outs, but in most cases, you could be a business owner with your own veterinary practice.

A practice owner standing in the lobby with pet merchandise behind her

Telemedicine

With the rise of telehealth due to COVID, we have seen numerous telemedicine companies showing up in the industry. Many of these have positions for technicians doing things like triage, obtaining histories, and getting tele-appointments ready for the veterinarian. You may also find your practice has a need for someone to help coordinate their telemedicine appointments. The biggest plus here is a lot of these positions are remote.

woman on a computer on her home with headset on

To finish the list here are some other popular options:

Sales/Technical Support

It doesn’t matter whether it is food, pharmaceuticals, or equipment veterinary companies will hire technicians due to their knowledge of veterinary medicine and the products they are representing. There are sales, customer service, and technical support positions that companies would love to fill with veterinary technicians.

Technician and vet having a discussion with sales person in hospital

Education

Veterinary technicians are needed to teach in veterinary technician programs, help run veterinary teaching hospitals, work for veterinary continuing education companies, and help larger practices/hospital groups train their teams. Who knows our field better than we do? You will often find that working in education leads to writing and speaking opportunities as well.

*This is my favorite category.  After teaching for many years and trying my hand at veterinary non-profit and veterinary distribution education, I am so excited to be the Manager of content with VETgirl in the education department!

3 vet tech students sitting and talking at school around a computer

Pet insurance

Pet insurance companies have really become big business in the veterinary industry. New companies seem to be popping up like never before. These companies will hire technicians for claims processing as it is easier to teach them how to process claims than it is to hire and teach claims processors veterinary medicine.

Pet Insurance policy with pen on a desk

Government

The federal and state governments also have roles for technicians that include animal/facility inspection, emergency management, food production, quality assurance, and animal control – just to name a few.

Veterinarian animal doctor at pig farm checking health status of pigs domestic animals on his tablet computer in pigpen. Health concept. Food quality control and meat inspection

If you don’t like what you are doing, find something else within the field. Don’t ever close a door, burn a bridge, or become bitter. Move on and find what it is that brought you into the profession to begin with.

Weigh in below in the comments section below with any of the many veterinary technician careers I didn’t cover!

  1. It is nice to see all the different available avenues within the field and know there are options without leaving the field entirley

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