Veterinary Technician (For Large Animals): Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Veterinary technicians specializing in large animals assist veterinarians who treat sheep, cows and horses, among other mammals. Read on to find more information about degree and credential requirements, job duties and career outlook. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Do as a Large Animal Veterinary Technician?

You'll work alongside a licensed veterinarian and assist in caring for horses or livestock animals. Some typical job duties include taking blood counts, performing urinalysis, administering medications and vaccinations, preparing tissue samples, maintaining patient records, taking x-rays and providing nursing care. You will most likely travel to farms or ranches in rural areas to perform your job duties.

What Is the Predicted Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that veterinary technicians and technologists would experience excellent job opportunities and enjoy employment growth much faster than average over the 2008-2018 decade (www.bls.gov). This accelerated rate may be partly attributed to the fact that the number of veterinary technicians graduating from 2-year programs would not be enough to meet demand. The need for veterinary services was expected to increase due to the growing affluence of pet owners.

What Education Prerequisites Do I Need to Meet?

For most veterinary technician positions, you'll need an associate's degree in veterinary technology. The program you attend should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), allowing you to sit for any state's credentialing exam. You may be required to take courses in veterinary medical terminology, animal anatomy and physiology, veterinary pharmacology, animal microbiology and large animal nursing. Your curriculum could also involve completing clinical rotations at off-campus locations.

During your course of study, you'll learn how to care for different types of animals, such as small, large, laboratory and exotic animals. Some programs offer you the option of choosing a specialty, like large animal care. Instead of completing a 2-year program, you could pursue a bachelor's degree program in veterinary technology. The AVMA also accredits such 4-year programs.

After you've earned your degree, you must become credentialed in order to work as a veterinary technician in the United States. Each state has its own credentialing requirements, but most require that you pass an exam which includes written, oral and practical components. The National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam is the preferred credentialing exam in many states.

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