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What Is an Animal Care Technician and How to Become One

Animal Care Technician

What Are the Duties of an Animal Care Technician?

An animal care technician takes care of various kinds of animals depending on where they work, such as in a lab, shelters, and veterinary offices. As an animal care technician, you monitor animals daily and log any health abnormalities or illnesses. Other responsibilities and duties include feeding and giving animals fresh water, cleaning cages, hosing down walkways, and more thorough cleaning tasks such as disinfecting walls, windows, filter plates, and more. You clean the rest of the facility as well as instruments and operating rooms in research facilities and labs. You also prepare and stock supplies in each room while maintaining inventory. Restraining animals is sometimes necessary, as well as rescuing them from unsafe environments and transporting them to care. You are expected to assist vets with procedures, like vaccinations and euthanasia.

How to Become an Animal Care Technician

The qualifications to become an animal care technician include a high school diploma or equivalent and previous experience working with the types of animals you want to work with. It may be beneficial to gain some initial experience by volunteering at an animal shelter. Some employers require the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science certification (AALAS). The Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician credential (ALAT) is available after you have two years of experience or the equivalent, such as an associate degree and six months of animal care experience or animal husbandry. To stand out in your industry, you can earn a specialized certification for animal euthanasia or a veterinary assistant certificate. In general, you need to be physically fit and able to lift 50 pounds. Communication skills and emotional stability are crucial to succeed in this position.

Where Does an Animal Care Technician Work?

As an animal care technician, you can work in private veterinary offices, which offer the most opportunities, and pet hospitals where you assist vets with cleaning, general animal care, and other specialized tasks such as helping with vaccines and euthanizing pets. Jobs in shelters involve caring for injured, sick, or abused animals which often requires experience in these areas. Working in labs offers opportunities that are similar to those in vet offices but are more suited for those with interest in research. There are positions in animal control and wildlife care as well.

What Are the Possible Career Paths for an Animal Care Technician?

Many animal care technician positions allow you to start at entry-level, working basic tasks such as facility cleaning, maintenance, monitoring, and setting up animal housing. As you work your way up to more senior-level positions, you are responsible for understanding laws and regulations, keeping records, managing employees who are in charge of the cleaning tasks, and providing advanced technical assistance to veterinarians such as IP injections and blood collection. If you continue your education in your desired niche, you can become a veterinarian, an animal researcher, or you can specialize in animal dentistry or diagnostic imaging as a lab technician for animals. You can also advance your education with a specific group of animals such as those in zoos or on farms.

Animal Care Technician Job Description Sample

With this Animal Care Technician job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Animal Care Technician role.

Job Summary

We are looking for an experienced Animal Care Technician to join our staff. You will help the shelter manager with gathering intake paperwork, confirming vaccinations, distributing food and water for the shelter animals, cleaning and preparing living quarters, and grooming animals. When necessary, you will also assist in the euthanasia of shelter animals. We expect our staff to be courteous to clients and handle all animals humanely. You must have some experience handling animals to apply for this position.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Greet clients
  • Gather intake information, including vaccination records
  • Distribute food and water for shelter animals
  • Clean and prepare animal quarters
  • Assist with euthanasia procedures

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • 1+ years of experience working with animals
  • Computer proficiency
  • Flexible schedule