We all know the vet, the health professional that many children dream of becoming one day! But what is an animal health technician? Focus on the animal doctor’s right hand.
First of all, the animal health technician can work with a great variety of environments and clients: livestock, wildlife, laboratory animals, pets, etc. The tasks will vary depending on the work environment. Fundamentally, the technician will assist the vet in all sorts of technical tasks, ranging from daily animal care (feeding, grooming, etc.) to customer relations and surgical assistance. To make a comparison with human healthcare, technicians perform tasks similar to those performed by nurses.
Rose Comte-Marcil is a new animal health technician and works in a clinic. She points out that the role of the technician is a leading one with customers. “People tend to trust the vet less, sometimes suspecting that they want to take too much money from them,” she says. “Since we spend more time with them on the phone or during procedures, they end up relying heavily on us. In addition, part of the work that is not much talked about is answering calls from customers, being able to ask the right questions to know if the case they are describing is really an emergency or if they can wait before coming to the clinic, for example.”
Training, prospects, salary
If you think you have what the job takes, what can be expected? First of all, love of animals is essential, but that’s not all. “I would even say that you should not love them too much, because you see difficult things in the profession and you have to be able to live with difficult decisions,” says Rose Comte-Marcil. Among other essential qualities she cites a sense of responsibility and good relational abilities. “It is also necessary to be able to adapt to change and work under pressure, because sometimes there are rushes!,” continues the technician.
Technical training is also required that lasts 3 years, including at least two internships. The average salary of an animal health technician in Canada is about $36,000 per year (or $18.50 per hour). The most experienced can eventually earn around $56,000 per year. The placement rate is excellent, with nearly all graduates finding a full-time job in their field when they leave school. “One thing is certain, it is a stimulating profession where there is no boredom. We see many beautiful cases where we make a difference in the life of people and animals… We still have to work for better recognition of the profession!,” she concludes.