occupationsVeterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians   (NOC: 3213)

Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians provide technical support to veterinarians by caring for animals and assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of animal health disorders. They are employed in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, animal shelters, humane societies, zoos, animal research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and government.

Alternate titles for this trade may include: animal health technologist, laboratory animal technician, veterinarian assistant, veterinary technician, veterinary technologist

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The following are some of the employment requirements for this trade:

  • Completion of a two- or three-year animal health/veterinary technology college program is required.
  • Successful completion of a national registration examination may be required in some employment settings.
  • Registration with provincial animal health technologists' or veterinary technicians'/technologists' associations is available and is mandatory in some provinces.

Pattern of Interests   |   Skill Requirements

Pattern of Interests

The code determined by the results of your answers to the Interest Inventory questionnaire. Each possibility has a 3 letter variation that assesses the degree and range of your interests along Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social criteria variables.


Innovative interest in compiling information from tests to assist in the diagnosis of animal health problems; and in conducting and assisting in laboratory research


Methodical interest in assisting veterinarians during surgery by preparing surgical equipment and administering and monitoring anaesthetics; and in conducting procedures such as animal identification, dehorning and hoof trimming, and in preparing medications and vaccines under the direction of veterinarians


Objective interest in operating laboratory equipment to perform radiography and other tests to assist in the diagnosis of animal health problems

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Skill Requirements

Below are Essential Skill categories and how they correspond to this occupation. This section will help you identify occupations where you have a good chance of succeeding. It can also help you see which Skills you may need to improve. Click on the Summary Analysis link above to view a complete analysis of how your Skills measure up to this occupation. This feature is only available for those Users that are logged in and have completed the self assessment component.

The most important Essential Skills for this trade are:

  • Document Use
  • Numeracy
  • Oral Communication


Reading Text

Desired Skill Level Range: 1-4
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Read about the clinical uses, precautions, potential risks and side effects of medications on container labels. (1) , (daily)
  • Read comments and treatment instructions in veterinary and hospitalization records. For example, they read veterinarians' comments about animals' reactions to drugs. technicians and technologists who work in zoos may read notes from animal keepers. (2) , (daily)
  • Read home-care instructions with clients to ensure that they understand how to manage their animals' care and carry out procedures such as changing bandages and administering medications. (2) , (daily)
  • Read catalogues, flyers, brochures and e-mail advertisements from pharmaceutical and pet food suppliers to learn about new animal health products on the market. (2)
  • Read equipment manuals to learn how to calibrate, use, maintain and repair laboratory equipment such as centrifuges, microscopes and digital scales. (3)
  • May read academic journals to learn about new developments in animal health. (4)
  • Review veterinary procedures in textbooks and veterinary references. They need to understand the medical terminology used in these textbooks to follow treatment procedures and to assist veterinarians with diagnoses and treatments. Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians working in laboratories use medical reference guides for veterinary cytology and haematology to assist with cell sample analysis. (4)


Document Use

Desired Skill Level Range: 1-3
  Note: This is an important skill
  Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians
  • Scan prescription orders and labels on medication for dosages, expiry dates, warnings and other labelled data. (1) , (daily)
  • Enter animal identifiers, dates, times, x-ray machine settings, medications drawn and quantities administered or dispensed into pharmaceutical, anaesthetic and radiography logs. Entry into anaesthetic and pharmaceutical logs must be precise to comply with legal requirements for tracking narcotics and controlled drugs. (2) , (daily)
  • Enter quantities, product names and prices on purchase order forms to order supplies from pharmaceutical and pet food companies. They scan invoices to see that the items on the purchase order have been delivered. (2) , (monthly)
  • Fill out laboratory requisition forms as directed by veterinarians. They may select from sixty or more different testing procedures and animal-specific tests on larger requisitions. (2) , (daily)
  • Review consent forms with clients to ensure they understand the veterinary procedures and associated costs which the form authorizes. (2) , (daily)
  • Use dosage charts to determine the correct amount of medication for animals of different types, breeds and weights. The task is often complicated because they must select different tables for different species, breeds or sizes of animals. (3)
  • Fill out numerous medical and regulatory forms such as intake forms, examination records, surgical logs, hospitalization records, health certificates and euthanasia forms. On these forms, they record animal identifiers, health statistics, observations and medications administered. Some forms such as dental charts contain sketches of animals on which they can mark affected areas. (3) , (daily)
  • Examine radiographs to verify the images are clear enough for diagnostic purposes. (3) , (daily)
  • Refer to assembly drawings when disassembling or cleaning equipment such as the vettest chemistry analyzer. (3)
  • Refer to pictures, diagrams and anatomical scale drawings of animals in medical reference materials. For example, they may use dentition charts to explain to clients how to brush their dogs' teeth. (3)



Desired Skill Level Range: 1-2
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • May write notes to co-workers on other shifts to inform them of unfinished cleaning, sterilizing or testing tasks and details of care for boarded animals. (1) , (daily)
  • May write brief home-care instructions when clients take animals home following surgery or treatment. For example, a veterinary and animal health technologist or technician may instruct a client to check the cast on an injured horse daily and ensure the cast does not become wet or soiled above the fetlock. (2)
  • Write notes in animal health records to record details of animals' medical histories, presenting symptoms, diagnoses and treatments. Most entries are point form and brief, but they may write longer passages to describe unusual health problems and record veterinarians' detailed instructions for animals' care. (2) , (daily)
  • Draft letters to health insurance companies and letters to refer clients to other veterinarians or animal health specialists. In the drafts, they briefly describe cases and outline veterinarians' medical opinions and recommendations for treatment. (2)



Desired Skill Level Range: 1-3
  Note: This is an important skill
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Calculate service amounts using established fees and collect payments from clients. They add amounts for laboratory test fees, supply costs, pet foods and medications and add applicable federal and provincial sales taxes. (money math), (2) , (daily)
  • Follow medication or treatment schedules which indicate the times and dosages required for different animals. (scheduling, budgeting & accounting math), (2) , (daily)
  • Schedule client appointments and make changes to accommodate animal health emergencies or cancellations. (scheduling, budgeting & accounting math), (2) , (daily)
  • Use calibrated weigh scales, measuring cups and syringes to measure specified amounts of food and volumes of medication to administer to hospitalized animals. (measurement and calculation math), (1) , (daily)
  • Weigh animals using various sized scales. If a handler has to hold the animal, the handler's weight must be subtracted from the total weight to find the weight of the animal. (measurement and calculation math), (2) , (daily)
  • Measure animals' vital signs using sphygmomanometers, rectal thermometers, and neuroelectric monitors. They may listen to animals breathing and heart beats with stethoscopes, and calculate pulse and respiration rates. (measurement and calculation math), (3) , (daily)
  • Calculate medication administration rates for various sizes of animals. For example, a veterinary and animal health technologist may establish an infusion rate for intravenous fluid that will deliver ten cubic centimetres of fluid to an animal each twenty-four hour period. (measurement and calculation math), (3) , (daily)
  • Compare amounts of food and water ingested and waste excreted by hospitalized animals over time to check for fluid loss and abnormal digestive functioning. (data analysis math), (1) , (daily)
  • Count inventory and order additional medical and animal food supplies to maintain stock levels. (data analysis math), (2) , (weekly)
  • Analyze body temperatures, heart rates and respiratory rates during surgery and post-treatment to monitor animals' health. They compare vital sign readings to norms and watch for values that move outside normal ranges, indicating possible distress or infection. (data analysis math), (2) , (daily)
  • May estimate weights of large animals such as horses and cattle. (numerical estimation), (1) , (daily)
  • Estimate quantities of medical supplies and nutritional products to order according to time of year, consumer demand and growth in business. For example, more medical supplies and feed are needed during calving season. (numerical estimation), (2) , (weekly)
  • May estimate the cost of veterinary services and animal health products. They rely on previous experience with similar cases to make their estimates. they need to be relatively accurate so that clients can make decisions about treatment for their animals. (numerical estimation), (2) , (daily)


Oral Communication

Desired Skill Level Range: 1-3
  Note: This is an important skill
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Talk to animals in their care, especially family pets, to comfort and reassure them. They also command animals such as dogs or horses to move, sit, stand or present feet for examination. (1) , (daily)
  • Interact with pharmaceutical and nutritional distributors to order supplies, learn about new products on the market and resolve problems with payments and deliveries. (2) , (weekly)
  • Interact with colleagues from other veterinary clinics to exchange information in medical files and to discuss details of unusual or complex cases. (2)
  • May give presentations to inform school and community groups about veterinary services and animal care. (2)
  • Interact with co-workers to discuss schedules, appointments, duties and animal care. (2) , (daily)
  • Interact with clients over the telephone to confirm and reschedule appointments. They ask questions to gather information about animals' medical histories, observable symptoms and behaviours that will assist veterinarians with diagnoses and treatments. They also make follow-up calls to check on the progress of animals after treatments and surgeries. (2) , (daily)
  • Take direction from veterinarians. For example, when veterinarians are examining or treating animals, the veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians follow instructions for handling animals, taking health measurements, handling surgical instruments and administering medications. They discuss details of cases and keep veterinarians informed about animals' care, daily clinic operations, customers' requests and scheduling. (2) , (daily)
  • Advise clients about general animal care such as feeding, housing, grooming and cleaning their pets. They may explain how to implement animal treatment plans and administer the medications prescribed by veterinarians. They reassure and comfort clients who are in distress but are careful not to provide veterinary advice or answer health-related questions beyond their scope of expertise. Finally, they respond to customer complaints and negotiate payment options. They involve veterinarians in the discussions if clients are still unsatisfied or have animal health concerns. (3) , (daily)
  • May facilitate pet care classes, dog obedience clinics and similar training for animal owners. (3)


Problem Solving

Desired Skill Level Range: 2-3
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Face shortages in medical supplies. They contact drug representatives to verify their purchase orders and confirm estimated arrival times. If supplies such as medications are not available when needed, they contact other veterinary clinics for emergency loans or reschedule appointments requiring those supplies. (2)
  • Determine that radiographs are not acceptable because the images are not clear or the positioning of animals is poor. They adjust the x-ray settings, reposition the animals and take new images. Whenever possible, they seek authorization from veterinarians, as additional x-ray images increase costs. (2)
  • Face scheduling conflicts when animals require emergency care. They reschedule veterinarians' appointments to accommodate the animals in crisis and telephone clients to cancel or rebook their appointments. (2)
  • Receive complaints from clients who are dissatisfied with veterinary services and costs. They acknowledge the clients' frustrations, provide as much information as they can about health or cost-related questions and document complaints. If complaints are about costs, they may negotiate payment schedules. (2)
  • Find that medical equipment and instruments are not working properly. They read equipment manuals and follow instructions for troubleshooting mechanical failures. If that fails, they telephone manufacturers for technical support and arrange for the services of repair technicians. (2)
  • Find that animals they need to handle are agitated or bad-tempered. They ask for assistance from veterinarians, handlers and other technologists and technicians in restraining and subduing uncooperative animals with sedatives if necessary. When working with large and wild animals, they plan and carry out the movement and handling using safety gates and prearranged exit routes. (3)


Decision Making

Desired Skill Level Range: 2-3
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Decide to increase or decrease anaesthetic rates during surgeries to respond to changes in animals' vital signs and movements. Too much anaesthetic carries risks to animals' health but too little means animals will wake up prematurely. (2)
  • Decide that animals require immediate medical attention. They consider clients' descriptions of the problems and symptoms, and in the case of walk-ins, their own visual inspections of animals. (3) , (daily)


Job Task Planning

Desired Skill Level Range: 3
  Own job planning and organizing
  • Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians juggle multiple tasks and work independently to provide clinical support to veterinarians. Their schedules are dictated by appointments with clients. Surgeries are generally scheduled in the mornings and priority is given to treating animals in critical care. Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians who are employed in large veterinary clinics, hospitals and mixed practices may routinely rotate among assigned areas of duty while those working in small clinics are often required to assist with all clinical services, including reception. Interruptions are frequent and they must be prepared to alter routines to accommodate requests from veterinarians, seasonal service demands and emergency calls.
Planning and organizing for others
  • Senior veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians may plan work for junior staff, volunteers and practicum students. Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians may participate in strategic and operational planning for the clinics and businesses that employ them.


Finding Information

Desired Skill Level Range: 1-3
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Find information about nutritional and pharmaceutical specifications, risks and recommended dosages or portions, on animal food packaging and drug labels and in veterinary reference texts. (1)
  • Find out about animals and their medical histories by reading case notes in patient files, reviewing vaccination and hospitalization records, talking to owners and providing initial screenings of the animals. (2) , (daily)
  • Seek specific health and veterinary training information from journals, trade magazines and the websites of provincial and national associations such as the canadian association of animal health technologists and technicians. (2)
  • Consult veterinary medicine textbooks, academic journals and reference manuals to find information about diseases, symptoms, surgical procedures, drug treatments, side effects and preventative measures. They often search for specific information requested by veterinarians. (3)


Computer Use

Desired Skill Level Range: 2-3
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Use word processing. For example, they write home-care instructions and complete prescription labels using templates. (2)
  • May use spreadsheets. For example, they create supply order lists and inventory records, enter data and use formulas to calculate totals and averages. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they use e-mail to communicate with pharmaceutical suppliers and colleagues from other veterinary clinics. Some veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians exchange x-ray images and medical records with other veterinary clinics electronically. (2)
  • Use the internet. For example, they search supplier databases for products and prices. they enter passwords and connect to secure servers to make on-line purchases. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they use specialized information management software to enter, store and access medical information about animals in their care. They also use database software to track inventory of pharmaceutical and nutritional supplies and manage client billing. (3) , (daily)


Critical Thinking

Desired Skill Level Range: 2-3
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • May evaluate the health of tissue, blood and semen samples using microscopes to analyze concentration levels, motility, morphology, colour and ratio of abnormal to healthy cells or sperm. The evaluation results are subject to verification and authorization by veterinarians. (2)
  • Evaluate nutritional products and make recommendations to clients. They read product information in trade magazines and in brochures sent by suppliers. They talk to colleagues and animal owners about their experiences. They consider animals' breeds, ages, body weights and medical histories before suggesting products. (3) , (daily)
  • Judge the risks of being kicked, charged or attacked by animals in distress. They consider animals' sizes and breeds and assess changes in the animals' behaviour or movements that may signal pending attacks. Good judgment is required as some large and wild animals can be unpredictable, and could cause serious injuries. (3) , (daily)
  • Evaluate health of animals who are boarding, hospitalized or recovering from surgery. They measure the animals' heart, respiratory, blood pressure and temperature rates and compare results over time to monitor changes. They assess the animals' movements, demeanours, appetites and behaviours and examine wounds or incisions to look for signs of healing or infections. They assess pain levels by observing animals' responses to touch and synthesize their findings to provide status reports to veterinarians. (3) , (daily)


Use of Memory

Desired Skill Level Range: N/A
  Veterinary and Animal Health Technologists and Technicians
  • Remember abbreviations and codes to order laboratory tests and identify veterinary services for charting records.
  • Memorize names, ratios and formulas for mixing commonly used medications and calculating drug dosages.
  • Remember names of animals, their owners or caregivers and the nature of their requests for service to establish good customer relations.


Working with Others

Desired Skill Level Range: 2
  Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians assist veterinarians with clinical services and provide administrative support as required. They typically spend half of their time helping veterinarians handle animals and assisting with animal treatments and surgeries. They spend the rest of their time independently cleaning animal pens, preparing examination and surgical suites, performing technical duties such as collecting samples and carrying out administrative tasks. Those who work in zoos and larger veterinary clinics must often integrate their work with zookeepers, animal care workers, veterinarians and other technologists and technicians. In some clinics, senior technologists may supervise other technologists and technicians.


Continuous Learning

Desired Skill Level Range: 3
  Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians are responsible for staying informed about new diseases, treatments and animal health products. They learn primarily by working with knowledgeable veterinarians and by reading textbooks, trade magazines and clinical journals. They attend workshops and conferences hosted by their professional associations and participate in suppliers' seminars to learn about new products and equipment. They attend short courses to acquire hands-on laboratory skills and often share their new knowledge with co-workers. In order to practise, veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians must register with their provincial associations and complete continuous learning requirements.


Other Information

Desired Skill Level Range: N/A
  Physical Aspects
  • Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians spend most of their time on their feet and are physically active to handle and care for animals. Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians rely on their senses to gather information about animals' health. For example, they use their sense of touch to assess pain levels and smell to detect infections. Quick reflexes are required to respond to movements of uncooperative animals and they must be aware of their own body movements in order to calm and reassure animals that are in distress. Those who work in laboratories spend extended periods of time bending over microscopes. Strength requirements for veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians vary considerably depending on the size of the animals they care for. they often lift and carry bags of animal food that are up to forty kilograms in weight. Those working with large animals should be prepared to work outdoors in all types of weather.
  • Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians must enjoy working with animals and interacting with people. They should be friendly and optimistic but also realistic about expectations and outcomes of treatments. They need to be organized and self-motivated but also able to follow directions from veterinarians. They must be willing to get their hands dirty and be prepared to work outside of office hours if required.
Future trends affecting essential skills
  • Veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians will need improved reading and information finding skills to stay well-informed about trends such as holistic health and preventative care in veterinary medicine. People are increasingly more interested and willing to pay for products that will keep their animals healthy. Since educating clients about nutrition and selling products is primarily the domain of veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians, they will also need improved oral communication skills to advise and educate their clients about new developments. Continuous learning skills will be very important as more opportunities become available for veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians to specialize in fields such as animal massage, dentistry, disease testing, reproductive technology, laboratory research and emergency care. As computer applications continue to proliferate, they will need better computer skills to find information, manage inventory and use the internet to order supplies.

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