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NOC Code: NOC Code: 3213 Occupation: Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Animal health technologists and veterinary 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. Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians who are supervisors are included in this unit group. Animal health technologists and veterinary 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. Animal health technologists and veterinary technicians who are supervisors are included in this unit group.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Reading 1 2 3 4
Writing Writing 1 2
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3
Digital Technology Digital Technology 1 2 3
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3
Money Math Money Math 1 2
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2 3
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3

  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.

  • Read about the clinical uses, precautions, potential risks and side effects of medications on container labels. (1)
  • 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)
  • Read comments and treatment instructions in veterinary and hospitalization records. For example, read veterinarians' comments about animals' reactions to drugs. Technicians and technologists who work in zoos may read notes from animal keepers. (2)
  • Read catalogues, flyers, brochures and email 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)
  • Read academic journals to learn about new developments in animal health. (4)
  • Review veterinary procedures in textbooks and veterinary references. You 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)
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  • 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)
  • 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 in some cases write longer passages to describe unusual health problems and record veterinarians' detailed instructions for animals' care. (2)
  • 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)
  • Draft letters to health insurance companies and letters to refer clients to other veterinarians or animal health specialists. In the drafts, briefly describe cases and outline veterinarians' medical opinions and recommendations for treatment. (2)
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Document Use
  • Scan prescription orders and labels on medication for dosages, expiry dates, warnings and other labelled data. (1)
  • 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)
  • Enter quantities, product names and prices on purchase order forms to order supplies from pharmaceutical and pet food companies. Scan invoices to see that the items on the purchase order have been delivered. (2)
  • Fill out laboratory requisition forms as directed by veterinarians. In some cases, select from sixty or more different testing procedures and animal-specific tests on larger requisitions. (2)
  • Review consent forms with clients to ensure they understand the veterinary procedures and associated costs which the form authorizes. (2)
  • Refer to assembly drawings when disassembling or cleaning equipment such as the VetTest Chemistry Analyzer. (3)
  • Examine radiographs to verify the images are clear enough for diagnostic purposes. (3)
  • Use dosage charts to determine the correct amount of medication for animals of different types, breeds and weights. The task is often complicated because you must select different tables for different species, breeds or sizes of animals. (3)
  • Refer to pictures, diagrams and anatomical scale drawings of animals in medical reference materials. For example, use dentition charts to explain to clients how to brush their dogs' teeth. (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, record animal identifiers, health statistics, observations and medications administered. Some forms such as dental charts contain sketches of animals on which veterinary and animal health technologists and technicians can mark affected areas. (3)
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Digital Technology
  • Use email 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)
  • Search supplier databases for products and prices. Enter passwords and connect to secure servers to make on-line purchases. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, create supply order lists and inventory records, enter data and use formulas to calculate totals and averages. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, write home-care instructions and complete prescription labels using templates. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, use specialized information management software to enter, store and access medical information about animals in your care. Use database software to track inventory of pharmaceutical and nutritional supplies and manage client billing. (3)
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Oral Communication
  • Talk to animals in your care, especially family pets, to comfort and reassure them. Command animals such as dogs or horses to move, sit, stand or present feet for examination. (1)
  • Interact with co-workers to discuss schedules, appointments, duties and animal care. (2)
  • Interact with pharmaceutical and nutritional distributors to order supplies, learn about new products on the market and resolve problems with payments and deliveries. (2)
  • Give presentations to inform school and community groups about veterinary services and animal care. (2)
  • Interact with colleagues from other veterinary clinics to exchange information in medical files and to discuss details of unusual or complex cases. (2)
  • Interact with clients over the telephone to confirm and reschedule appointments. Ask questions to gather information about animals' medical histories, observable symptoms and behaviours that will assist veterinarians with diagnoses and treatments. Make follow-up calls to check on the progress of animals after treatments and surgeries. (2)
  • 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)
  • Advise clients about general animal care such as feeding, housing, grooming and cleaning their pets. Explain how to implement animal treatment plans and administer the medications prescribed by veterinarians. Reassure and comfort clients who are in distress but be careful not to provide veterinary advice or answer health-related questions beyond your scope of expertise. Finally, respond to customer complaints and negotiate payment options. Involve veterinarians in the discussions if clients are still unsatisfied or have animal health concerns. (3)
  • Facilitate pet care classes, dog obedience clinics and similar training for animal owners. (3)
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Money Math
  • Calculate service amounts using established fees and collect payments from clients. Add amounts for laboratory test fees, supply costs, pet foods and medications and add applicable federal and provincial sales taxes. (2)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Schedule client appointments and make changes to accommodate animal health emergencies or cancellations. (2)
  • Follow medication or treatment schedules which indicate the times and dosages required for different animals. (2)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Use calibrated weigh scales, measuring cups and syringes to measure specified amounts of food and volumes of medication to administer to hospitalized animals. (1)
  • 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. (2)
  • Measure animals' vital signs using sphygmomanometers, rectal thermometers, and neuroelectric monitors. Listen to animals breathing and heart beats with stethoscopes, and calculate pulse and respiration rates. (3)
  • 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. (3)
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Data Analysis
  • Compare amounts of food and water ingested and waste excreted by hospitalized animals over time to check for fluid loss and abnormal digestive functioning. (1)
  • Count inventory and order additional medical and animal food supplies to maintain stock levels. (2)
  • Analyze body temperatures, heart rates and respiratory rates during surgery and post-treatment to monitor animals' health. Compare vital sign readings to norms and watch for values that move outside normal ranges, indicating possible distress or infection. (2)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate weights of large animals such as horses and cattle. (1)
  • 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. (2)
  • Estimate the cost of veterinary services and animal health products. Rely on previous experience with similar cases to make estimates. These estimates need to be relatively accurate so that clients can make decisions about treatment for their animals. (2)
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Job Task 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. (3)
  • 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. (3)
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Decision Making
  • 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. Consider clients' descriptions of the problems and symptoms, and in the case of walk-ins, your own visual inspections of animals. (3)
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Problem Solving
  • Face scheduling conflicts when animals require emergency care. 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. Acknowledge the clients' frustrations, provide as much information as possible about health or cost-related questions and document complaints. If complaints are about costs, negotiate payment schedules as appropriate. (2)
  • Determine that radiographs are not acceptable because the images are not clear or the positioning of animals is poor. Adjust the x-ray settings, reposition the animals and take new images. Whenever possible, seek authorization from veterinarians, as additional x-ray images increase costs. (2)
  • Face shortages in medical supplies. Contact drug representatives to verify purchase orders and confirm estimated arrival times. If supplies such as medications are not available when needed, contact other veterinary clinics for emergency loans or reschedule appointments requiring those supplies. (2)
  • Medical equipment and instruments are not working properly. Read equipment manuals and follow instructions for troubleshooting mechanical failures. If that fails, telephone manufacturers for technical support and arrange for the services of repair technicians. (2)
  • Animals you need to handle are agitated or bad-tempered. 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, plan and carry out the movement and handling using safety gates and prearranged exit routes. (3)
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Finding Information
  • 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)
  • 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. Search for specific information requested by veterinarians. (3)
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Critical Thinking
  • 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. These evaluation results are subject to verification and authorization by veterinarians. (2)
  • Judge the risks of being kicked, charged or attacked by animals in distress. 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)
  • Evaluate health of animals who are boarding, hospitalized or recovering from surgery. Measure the animals' heart, respiratory, blood pressure and temperature rates and compare results over time to monitor changes. Assess the animals' movements, demeanours, appetites and behaviours and examine wounds or incisions to look for signs of healing or infections. Assess pain levels by observing animals' responses to touch and synthesize these findings to provide status reports to veterinarians. (3)
  • Evaluate nutritional products and make recommendations to clients. Read product information in trade magazines and in brochures sent by suppliers. Talk to colleagues and animal owners about their experiences. Consider animals' breeds, ages, body weights and medical histories before suggesting products. (3)
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