So, you want to work with animals but your goals don't include finally getting Flipper to master a leap through the hoop. You enjoy interacting with all animals- fins, hooves, wings, you name it. But you need more of an instant gratification and knowledge that you're contributing to the greater good of the animal kingdom. Not to mention a short cut through all that schooling would be nice! If this sounds like you then you may be headed for a career in Animal Health Technology.
Animal health technology is a diverse field and duties will vary depending on the size and species of the animal being treated. After all, some animal health techs work with whales on the pacific coast while others are working with cows in the middle of the prairies. Not to menion all of the animal health technicians that work alongside vertrinarians in offices and hospitals dealing with domestic and exotic pets. You may be surprised to learn that while the species are just as different as their respective environments, most technologists have similar responsibilities.
Sometimes called a veterinary technician, animal health technologists provide technical support to veterinarians and other animal care practitioners or trainers by caring for animals and assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of animal health disorders. Generally, they administer medications, give immunizations, take and record temperatures, pulse and respiration of the animals. They may also collect specimens for culture or microscopic examination, dress and suture wounds, and clean and extract teeth. Animal health technologists also administer treatments as prescribed by a veterinarian.
Not all of a technician's duties are hands-on though. They must also maintain treatment records and inventory of all drugs, equipment and supplies. Animal health technicians can find work in companies that produce drugs, or make animal feed. Some counsel clients on animal health care and conduct or assist laboratory research.
Work environments vary with the job. Technicians in research labs and animal hospitals work almost entirely indoors. Those who work in zoos, veterinary offices, animal shelters and animal control facilities may work both in and outdoors. Occupational hazards exist of course but accidents are rare. These workers are trained extensively to handle their animals, materials and equipment simultaneously.
Completion of a two- or three-year college level animal health or veterinary technology program is required and in some cases you may need to successfully complete the Veterinary Technologist National Examination (VTNE). Registration with provincial animal health technologists' or veterinary technicians'/technologists' associations can also make you more marketable to employers but it is currently voluntary in all provinces. Admission requirements for most Animal Health Technology programs include a high school diploma with credits in english chemistry, biology and math.
It is a field largely dominated by women. Employment numbers are typically low for animal health technologists working in the field with marine mammals and they are generally not well paid. Only a small percentage will work full time, year round. On the contrary, this is an occupation in high demand for those who are willing to