We often hear about veterinarians and vet nurses, but what about veterinary technicians? Sometimes referred to as ‘allied veterinary professionals’, vet techs deliver high-level, hands on veterinary care, often in a direct support role to veterinarians.
So what makes a great vet tech? As you might expect, a love of animals is critical! Additional attributes that are important include a strong science background, an ability to work well with people and also handle animals, and good communication and decision-making skills.
The role of a veterinary tech
Considered to be well-trained and highly skilled members of the animal health care sector, veterinary techs are an important addition to many practices where they are able to undertake a wide range of practical tasks. Supporting veterinarians, they are generally very hands on and often form part of a surgical team, assisting vets with everything from diagnostic imaging to anaesthesia. A wealth of knowledge when it comes to the latest technology, vet techs may oversee the application of data-driven apps, wearable devices and other advanced veterinary tools.
While vet techs are generally very knowledgeable and capable, there are certain things that must be left to a qualified vet, such as diagnosis (even though vet techs may undertake many diagnostic procedures), prescription of medication and performing surgery.
Areas of specialisation for vet techs are wide and varied, and include emergency and critical care, anaesthesiology, internal medicine, animal behaviour, and dentistry.
In terms of career settings, vet techs can be found at both regular and emergency veterinary clinics, in veterinary specialist hospitals, at zoos, in research roles and in government departments — for example, biosecurity, emergency response, and public education.
What qualifications are required?
In Australia, a three-year bachelor degree is required if you want to become a vet tech. This degree, usually referred to as a Bachelor of Veterinary Technology, provides a knowledge base and skill set that is broader and deeper than that of the vocationally trained veterinary nurse (a vet nurse would normally complete a Certificate IV [Level 4] or Diploma [Level 5], whereas a Bachelor Degree is considered to be Level 7).
A Bachelor of Veterinary Technology typically develops high-level practical skills and knowledge around the care and treatment of animals, including their welfare, health and management. While the bachelor course has core components, depending on the education provider there is often the opportunity to explore specialised areas of expertise, such as equine nursing, surgical nursing, farm animal health management, small animal medicine and also practice management.
In the field of veterinary science — whether you’re a vet, a vet nurse or a vet tech — there is always something new to learn as advances in research and technology come to light. If you’re a vet tech looking to expand your practical skills, the team at VetPrac has a range of courses available that do just that. From practical dental solutions, to anaesthesia and pain management in horses, dogs and cat, VetPrac’s range of online and hands on workshops will help you further your career.
For more information about courses and workshops that are currently available, please click here.