Vet Tech Jobs & Specialties

Animals, like people, often need a wide range of medical attention.

They need veterinarians to help them treat various illnesses and injuries.

And many of these vets specialize in one of 12 veterinary technician (vet tech) careers.

They have expertise in either:

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Behavior
  • Nutrition

They are able to get their certificate from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA).

NAVTA maintains its own specialties portal.

Here, vet techs can find the program they want to attend to gain advanced knowledge and skills.

To get a technical certification in a specialized field, you must:

  • Enroll in a two-year associate’s degree
  • Complete the courses of study
  • Pass the examination

Upon successful completion, you will now become a certified veterinary technician specialist.

What’s more, these specializations come with higher pay.

And on this page, you will have an overview of the five top-earning jobs among the 12 vet tech careers.

  • Anesthesia and analgesia technician
  • Surgical technician
  • Emergency and critical care technician
  • Zoological medical technician
  • Equine nursing technician

The Significance of Vet Tech Specialization

a veterinary technician taking care of an ill dog

According to NAVTA, vet techs are the veterinarians’:

  • Nurses
  • Lab technicians
  • Radiography technicians
  • Anesthetists
  • Surgical nurses
  • Client educators

But vet techs are more than that.

We see vet techs as the heart of the veterinary practice.

Its skeletal workforce.

They perform essential tasks for the health and welfare of animals.

And veterinary science places heavy importance on these expertly-trained technicians.

Anesthesia & Analgesia Technician

An anesthesia and analgesia technician is one of the highest paying vet tech careers

According to PayScale, they earn an average salary of about $33,969.

They earn this much because of their valuable help to the veterinary surgeons.

They assist vets with performing surgical procedures, such as:

  • Preparing pre-anesthetic procedures
  • Administering proper anesthesia and sedative dosage
  • Maintaining sedation of the animal through close monitoring
  • Managing the animal’s emergence from the sedative state

And it does not end there.

They are also expected to do:

  • Post-anesthetic care of the animal
  • Maintenance of specialized equipment

Pro Tip: Graduating with a four-year degree from an accredited school increases your earning potential.

Surgical Technician

A surgical technician is also a well-paid career that earns an average salary of $48,207 (Zip Recruiter).

To become one, you will have to:

  • Complete a course
  • Get a certification from the Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians

Only then can you assist the veterinarian during surgical procedures and diagnoses, including:

  • All levels of wound care, such as:
    • Changing and checking wound dressings
    • Maintenance of healing wounds
    • Counseling owners of wounded animals
  • Proper sterility practices
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Surgery

Also, you will need to perform some clerical and administrative work at the vet clinic like:

  • Post-op consultations
  • Medication dosings
  • Filling of animal prescriptions
  • Administering IVs, catheters, and/or blood draws

Emergency & Critical Care Technician

An emergency and critical care technician must be versatile and highly qualified.

They must also work well under pressure, able to remain calm and focused.

This ensures that they can save an animal’s life whenever an emergency happens.

If you believe you can do all these things, then you are already halfway ready for this field.

Pro Tip: Be prepared to always be on-call.

Your responsibilities, in some way, are the same as a surgical technician.

Only, you will have to help stabilize the animals in need of critical medical attention.

In the intensive care unit, or at the 24-hour animal hospital, you will:

  • Take x-rays, blood, and/or stool samples
  • Monitor vitals
  • Insert catheters
  • Give injections of medications or fluids
  • Do wound care
  • Keep the patient’s files in order

These heavy duties have made these technicians earn an average salary of $68,000 (PayScale).

And they deserve it so.

Other Vet Tech Fields to Consider

Even though we could not find the salary data for these two fields, we still wanted to include them for you.

Zoological Medical Technician

zoological medical technician looking after a zoo animal

The zoological medical technician career is ideal for individuals who:

  • Enjoy taking care and being with exotic animals
  • Finds zoos, aquariums, or wildlife preserves as learning environments

Here, you will work as the vet’s close assistant.

You will help deal with the various exotic animals you encounter, including:

  • Wound care
  • Taking radiographs
  • Operating diagnostic machinery or software
  • Filling prescriptions
  • Administering fluids and medications
  • Assisting with general physical exams
  • Inserting catheters
  • Cleaning of surgical equipment

Equine Nursing Technician

An equine nursing technician is also known as large animal vet tech.

This work is best for people who love horses, rural environments, and animal husbandry.

If this is you, then you can enroll at the Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians.

The academy helps you gain the necessary knowledge and skills to assist the vets in, but not limited to:

  • Administering medication
  • Bandaging wounds
  • Preparing for surgeries or procedures
  • Running blood or fluid tests
  • Taking x-rays
  • Giving injections

You will also acquire other specialized skills like:

  • Jogging horses into a pen to test how their lameness or injury has improved
  • Maintaining physical therapy records for follow-ups or outside consultation
  • Scheduling appointments and dealing with several animal husbandries, including cows, sheep, and hogs

Your knowledge of equine anatomy and locomotion will improve your ability to account for kicks and bites.

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