Become a Vet Tech

If you're good with animals, a job as a vet tech might be just the thing to help make ends meet on the homestead.

| September/October 1984

  • vet tech - illustration of man holding a cat and woman petting a dog
    Above all, a vet tech needs to have a knack for interacting with animals.
    Illustration by Fotolia/Daria Li

  • vet tech - illustration of man holding a cat and woman petting a dog

Veterinarians in small and large animal practices everywhere utilize the services of professional veterinary technicians (or an animal health technician, as some folks refer to them). These helpers serve as right-hand persons to the doctor, but don't necessarily have any formal medical training. Often all that's required of a beginning "vet tech" is a knack with creatures and a willingness to learn new skills. Many of these jobs are full-time, but frequently a part-time or temporary position will open up, providing a busy homesteader with a perfect opportunity to earn some extra cash.

And I can highly recommend this line of half-time work to any animal-conscious back-to-the-lander needing a way to help make ends meet without being away from home eight hours a day. I'm a vet technician and farmer myself, and frankly I can't think of two more satisfying and complementary careers. My job lets me develop my talents while working with other animal enthusiasts, leaving me refreshed for tending farm and family.

Job Description

The duties of a veterinary technician vary from hospital to hospital. However, the following list will give you a general idea of what could be required of you, should you choose to pursue this line of work. Each of these procedures can be learned on the job, so don't be discouraged if some of them sound intimidating. A technician's responsibilities increase with competency; in the beginning you probably wouldn't be asked to perform tasks that you're not familiar with.

[1] Handling and restraint of hospitalized and outpatient animals.

[2] Nursing duties, including taking temperatures, cleaning and bandaging wounds, administering treatments prescribed by the vet. and medicating hospitalized patients.

[3] Lab chores, consisting of parasite identification, urine analysis, bloodwork, and some microbiological as well as other diagnostic procedures.


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