The veterinary technician is a pillar in the field of veterinary medicine. In addition to the basic duties of the vet tech, there are a wide range of specialties that allow experienced vet techs to further develop their skills.
In most cases, these specialties also allow the technicians to enjoy greater prestige and salaries as a part of their duties.
The Zoological Veterinary Technician
While all vet techs deal with many different types of animals, working in a zoo, wildlife preserve or other facility dealing with wild animals presents unique challenges for the professional zoological veterinary technician.
Given the wide variety of species most zoos possess, a veterinary technician specializing in zoology must be able to handle a number of varied duties, among them the following:
- The vet tech must have the ability to handle animals of widely differing sizes.
- They must effectively treat animals that have widely varying tolerances for medication, and avoid the use of drugs that may produce adverse reactions in certain animals.
- The vet tech must be skilled in handling dangerous animals, both large and small, that may require special methods of restraint for their safety and that of their attendants.
- The veterinary technician must be able to safely work with venomous animals, such as snakes or scorpions.
- When writing reports, the veterinary technician must be able to effectively record and transmit vital information to his or her supervisors, in order to assist in producing a treatment plan.
- The veterinary technician will be required to assist with creating balanced and nutritious feeding plans for animals with a wide variety of dietary requirements.
The veterinary technician must also work with animal breeds that are not as well understood as domestic animals and livestock. This has become more common as zoos place an increasing emphasis on obtaining endangered animals in order to conduct breeding programs.
As a component of this, the vet tech will help participate in programs designed to ensure that the animals are as comfortable as possible, in order to facilitate their longevity health. The vet tech must be able to evaluate their behavior, as a part of determining their overall health.
Becoming a Veterinary Technician Specializing in Zoology
Because of the wide range of information the veterinary technician needs, as well as the varied nature of his or her duties, the requirements for becoming a certified specialist in zoological medicine are quite strict. The vet tech must fulfill the following requirements:
- The candidate must have graduated an Accredited Veterinary Technology Program (AVMA) approved school to become a veterinary technician, or must be a currently credentialed veterinary technician in the United States or Canada.
- After that, the candidate must have spent no less than five years or 10,000 hours of work experience in the field of zoo medicine. This experience cannot be more than seven years old at the point of application.
- The candidate must also have taken at least 40 hours of continuing education in fields relevant to this specialty. The CE hours must have been taken no earlier than five years preceding the application to take the exam to become a veterinary technician specializing in zoological medicine.
- The candidate must have at least 40 case logs, and of those logs, at least five must be detailed case studies. These case studies must cover mammal, avian and herptile categories, and be approved by a qualified supervisor.
- The candidate must complete the advanced skills list, proving his or her ability to operate as a zoo veterinary technician. This requires the signature of a qualified co-worker or veterinarian.
- Finally, the candidate must have two letters of recommendation from qualified individuals. This includes letters from Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians (AVZMT) members, supervising zoological veterinarians, or a Diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM)
After these requirements are successfully completed, the candidate may sit for the AVZMT Examination in order to be certified as a zoological veterinary technician.
Benefits of Becoming a Zoological Veterinary Technician
Becoming a veterinary technician specializing in zoological medicine signals the admission to a select group of veterinary professionals. In many cases, zoos are not simply exhibits, but a valuable tool in maintain mankind’s knowledge about the creatures he shares the earth with, and the vet tech plays a vital role in protecting their health and comfort. This is especially important given the increasing value society places on using zoos as a method of educating the public about the nature of the world’s ecology.
The Vet Tech and Protecting Species from Extinction
In addition to their other duties, the veterinary technician may tasked with working to protect animal species from the potential for extinction. The destruction of habitat across the world has left some zoos and wildlife refuges as the last hope of increasingly endangered species.
By participating in these efforts, the vet tech may play a vital role in preserving the earth’s heritage for future generations.
The Outlook for Zoological Veterinary Technicians
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts well above average growth among veterinary technician careers, which includes those specializing in zoology. This growth is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, making this profession an extremely attractive one for those seeking a long-term and stable career path.
Becoming a veterinary technician specializing in can help increase the wage earning potential, in addition to entering a highly skilled field in veterinary medicine. In addition to the pragmatic benefits, the increasing public awareness of the importance of ecologically responsible policies has drastically increased the prestige associated with veterinary workers specializing in zoology, further increasing this career’s value.