Who Works at Veterinary Clinics and Hospitals? - Vet Tech Guide

Who Works at Veterinary Clinics and Hospitals?

If you have a pet that is a member of your family, you have most likely visited a veterinary clinic or hospital on numerous occasions.

During your visits, you may have noticed the many different people working in the facility. However, have you ever wondered about the responsibilities of each one and what their titles are?

If you have, read on to find out.

Veterinary Receptionists

veterinary receptionist

Veterinary receptionists are individuals who can be found working at the front desks of animal clinics, hospitals and other veterinary facilities.

Their main tasks are to greet clients, answer telephones, schedule appointments and handle payments. Other things they may be responsible for include updating records, filing paperwork and keeping the reception area tidy.

While it is not required for veterinary receptionists to hold any type of specialized college training or degree, these qualifications can certainly help candidates secure a job.

Additionally, many practices favor those applicants who have experience in the field or who have completed coursework in such areas as animal anatomy, veterinary pharmacology, communications and computer skills.

Professional Animal Groomers

professional animal grooming

More and more today, veterinary practices are employing professional animal groomers either part or full time. These are the persons who are responsible for such things as bathing dogs, giving flea dips, clipping and styling hair, and clipping nails.

Other common tasks of groomers include cleaning ears and eyes, expressing anal glands and keeping the grooming area clean and tidy.

While some groomers obtain their training through apprenticeships, many of them attend classes offered by local community colleges or trade schools.

These classes typically take about 10 to 12 weeks, awarding graduates with a diploma or certificate. Many groomers also go on to become certified with the National Dog Groomers Association of America. However, those who choose to take this step must complete a special workshop.

Kennel Attendants

In some cases, pets may need to stay at the veterinary clinic overnight or even longer. Additionally, many clinics and hospitals offer boarding services for clients’ pets while they are working or away on vacation.

As such, it is necessary for these practices to hire kennel attendants to help with such things as cleaning cages and yards, and feeding animals.

Other tasks that kennel attendants are often responsible for include exercising animals, brushing their hair and bathing them. It does not take any special training or education to become a kennel attendant.

However, employers often prefer to employ those individuals who seem to enjoy working with animals and who seem to have no problems handling them.

Veterinary Assistants

Veterinary assistant

Veterinary assistants are all-around workers whom you can find working in many different areas of a veterinary clinic or hospital. These individuals often take the places of veterinary receptionists and kennel attendants by taking over their duties.

In fact, some of the common duties of vet assistants include such clerical-related tasks as answering phones, greeting clients, scheduling appointments and filing paperwork.

However, they are also responsible for kennel-related duties such as cleaning cages, bathing animals, feeding animals and exercising them. When you consider that they are also often responsible for restraining animals during examinations and procedures, clipping nails, and expressing anal glands, you can see that vet assistants are quite busy.

The good thing about choosing a veterinary assistant career is that it does not require any formal training or education.

In most cases, you will obtain your skills through on-the-job training. Unfortunately, these jobs are in high demand making them extremely competitive. As such, it is best to seek some type of veterinary medicine-related training to help increase your chances of obtaining employment.

Veterinary Technicians

Vet cleaning teeth of a dog with a brush

Aside from the veterinarian, veterinary technicians have the most responsibilities in many animal clinics, hospitals and other veterinary medicine facilities.

Not only are vet techs often responsible for clerical-related and kennel-related duties, but they are also responsible for a wide variety of medical-related duties.

Just a sample of the tasks that veterinary technicians are commonly found doing are as follows.

  • Answering Telephones and Scheduling Appointments
  • Greeting Clients and Handling Payments
  • Cleaning Kennels and Feeding Animals
  • Bathing Animals and Clipping Their Nails
  • Drawing Blood and Collecting Fecal Samples
  • Taking and Recording Vital Signs
  • Performing Various Laboratory Tests
  • Taking and Developing X-rays
  • Administering Vaccinations and Other Injections
  • Administering Medications
  • Cleaning and Bandaging Wounds
  • Prepping Animals for Surgery
  • Administering Anesthesia
  • Assisting During Surgery
  • Removing Sutures

Since veterinary technicians are responsible for so many different tasks, they must undergo approved training before they can begin working in the field.

Most states require their vet techs to possess a minimum of an associate degree in veterinary technology. Their training will consist of classroom lectures, science laboratories, clinical work and a short internship.

Additionally, all states require their vet techs to complete a national licensing exam and obtain licensing before they can obtain employment.

Those veterinary technicians who choose to specialize will need to obtain additional training and certification in the specialization of their choice.


Farmer and veterinarian checking on cows

Veterinarians can perform any of the tasks described above plus many more. In addition to the duties described previously, veterinarians can also examine animals, diagnose illnesses and injuries, administer complex treatments and procedures, perform surgical procedures, prescribe medications, pull teeth, order lab tests, and set broken bones.

Just as with human doctors, people who want to become doctors of veterinary medicine must undergo several years of intense training.

First, they will need to enroll in a pre-veterinary medicine program that will last about two or three years. Next, they must complete a professional program that can take anywhere from four to six years.

After completing their professional program, they will need to participate in a two to four year internship. Additionally, veterinarians who choose to specialize must attend additional training that can last about two more years.

Finally, all veterinarians need to complete a national licensing exam and maintain licensing to practice in the field.


The salaries of the above professionals vary significantly from one occupation to another, mainly due to the fact that some occupations require more training and qualifications than others.

Additionally, the salaries for each occupation can vary from state to state and employer to employer. Nevertheless, the average salary (as of 2014) for each of these jobs can be found below.

  • Veterinary Receptionists – $26,000 Per Year
  • Professional Dog Groomers – $23,000 Per Year
  • Kennel Attendants – $23,000 Per Year
  • Veterinary Assistants – $28,000 Per Year
  • Veterinary Technicians – $31,000 Per Year
  • Veterinarians – $51,000 Per Year

Now, you know the differences between the various people you may encounter in a veterinary clinic or hospital. Each occupation requires varying amounts of training and education, and each one is responsible for different tasks.

However, they are all important in providing the best care possible to their clients’ furry friends.

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