For those wanting to work with animals for a living but avoid the time and money commitment of vet school, a position as a veterinary technician is ideal. Vet techs need only a 2 or 4-year degree to work with vets helping animals. Becoming a certified veterinary technician, or CVT, requires earning certification through your state by passing a licensing exam. As of 2012, women made up the majority of CVTs, nearly 80 percent, according to Veterinarians Michele Hollow and William Rives in their article on NetPlaces.
The role of CVT is appealing because it doesn’t require as many of years of schooling and you still get to do many of the same jobs a fully licensed vet does, including working one on one with the animals. Essentially, a CVT performs many of the same duties as a nurse does for a doctor. During routine checkups, as a CVT, you’ll collect specimens for testing, including blood, urine, stool and tissue. Before the vet comes in to examine a patient, you’ll take a detailed patient history from the owner and gather vitals like weight, blood pressure and temperature. At checkups, you give medicine and vaccines as needed, as well as educating the pet’s owner on proper care.
When an animal comes to the vet for surgery, a procedure or long-term care, the CVT assists by offering daily care to recovering animals. The CVT administers medication as needed, takes vital signs and makes sure the animal is as comfortable as possible, offering a scratch behind the ear or a pat on the head. Before surgery, you’ll be responsible for prepping the animal and getting all the vet’s surgery tools and materials together. During a surgery or procedure, some CVTs give anesthesia, and all can monitor the animal’s vital signs.
Behind the Scenes
As a CVT, you’ll have lots to do behind the scenes as well, doing lab tests like urinalysis, stool exams and blood counts. Along with taking X-rays and administering sonograms, CVTs assist the vet in interpreting the results. Some CVTs help with routine maintenance of vet equipment, keep inventory of supplies and order new supplies when needed. Depending on the size of the practice, you may oversee entry-level animal caretakers, providing training and managing their day-to-day duties. Often, pet owners will call in with concerns about their pets and rely on the CVT to answer questions, provide guidance and offer comfort.
Other roles you’ll fulfill as a CVT include keeping patient records and other administrative duties. While most CVTs work in a private vet practice, some serve as researchers in laboratories. These CVTs assist researchers by assuring that the lab treats the animal test subjects humanely and that the animals stay comfortable during the tests. Sometimes, a CVT chooses to specialize in a certain area of animal care, such as dental technology, emergency and critical care or zoological medicine. If you choose a specialty, you’ll have additional specialized duties beyond a general CVT’s responsibilities.
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