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12 Alternative Career Paths for Veterinary Techs

If you are working towards a veterinary technician degree, you might be pleased to know that there are alternative career paths for vet techs beyond clinical vet tech work. Read on to discover vet tech opportunities in specialty fields, as educators, in research labs, and more. 

General veterinary work isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, there are plenty of vet tech career options beyond working in veterinary hospitals and clinics. It’s important to feel refreshed and happy with the job you do, especially when you spend many years going through school to achieve your goals. 

two veterinary technicians working with a dog

Whether you’ve been in the veterinary technician field for years or are just starting out, you might be ready to broaden your horizons and explore other career choices for veterinary technicians. In this guide, you will find 12 alternative careers for vet techs where your skills will easily transfer. 

What Can You Do with a Vet Tech Degree?

There are different opportunities for jobs with a vet tech degree depending on which route you want to take. Many graduates decide to work at a private practice veterinary clinic or animal hospital. 

However, Not every person who graduates with a vet tech degree of any level has to continue along the traditional veterinary technician career path. For those interested in alternative jobs for vet techs, the options are numerous.

What You Can Do with a Vet Tech Bachelor’s Degree?

Veterinary techs with a Bachelor’s degree can work with animals in a variety of capacities and specialties. They are qualified to provide animal care, administer medications, and aid in examinations. These vet techs can promote animal welfare and advocate for their wellbeing.

Additionally, these duties can take place in private practice clinics as well as non-profit organizations and zoos. Vet techs with their Bachelor’s degrees can qualify for remote veterinary technician jobs and licensed vet tech jobs, provided that they have the proper licensing.

  • Veterinary Surgical Technician: Specializes in veterinary surgical assistance (two-year Vet Tech degree and surgical certification required).

  • Marine Veterinary Technician: Specializes in marine animal health (Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology or similar discipline required).

  • Animal Nutrition Technician: Specializes in animal diet or pet nutrition (two-year Animal Nutrition degree and field training required).

What You Can Do with a Vet Tech Master’s Degree?

With education and enough experience, alternative vet tech jobs can include positions in animal shelters, zoos, non-profits, laboratories, and more.

Those who have achieved Master’s degrees in animal health and wellness typically have six years of higher education under their belts. This opens up further options for veterinary technician specialties beyond the general career path. 

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General practice is great, but there are so many alternatives you have available to you when it comes to registered vet tech jobs. Let’s explore popular registered veterinary technician specialties…

Veterinary Technician Alternative Career Paths

Below are three alternative career paths that vet techs can choose to follow. These happen to be more specialized roles that some vet techs may have never considered pursuing. Animal lovers will find that these careers still allow them to engage with animals regularly. 

Marine Animal Vet Tech

Our furry friends aren’t the only animals that need help. Marine animal vet techs specialize in the veterinary needs of marine and aquatic life. Marine animal vet techs require specific training beyond the regular veterinary technology program. Many marine animal vet techs actually obtain degrees in marine biology to prepare for this career path. Those who work with marine life should become SCUBA certified, as well. 

  • Average Salary: $44,592
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree and Vet Tech Certifications
  • Recommended Program(s): Marine Biology

Animal Behavior Vet Tech

Animal behavior technicians specialize in promoting healthy animal behaviors. Pet owners benefit from the work techs do to strengthen the bond between animal companions and their human counterparts. This discipline is also extremely useful in animal shelters where animals are scared and in need of forever homes. One must become a certified veterinary technician specialist in the field of animal behavior. 

  • Average Salary: $42,522
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associate’s Degree and Specialist Vet Tech Certifications
  • Recommended Program(s): Animal Science 

Animal Nutritionist Technician

Proper nutrition can fend off disease and add years to their lives. Animal nutritionist technicians assist with managing patient nutrition. This involves calculating macros and coming up with proper diet and exercise regimens. Animal nutrition technicians must become certified in the specialty and pass testing that proves they have a mastery in the field. A Bachelor’s degree in a nutrition-related discipline like Animal Science is recommended for this specialty but is not usually required. 

  • Average Salary: $43,818
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associate’s Degree and Specialist Vet Tech Certifications
  • Recommended Program(s): Animal Science


Highest Paying Careers for Vet Techs

If you decide to pursue a vet technician specialty, you can count on making more money than a typical vet technician would. The specialties require more testing and certifications, but the end result is usually worth it. If vet tech specialties aren’t your ideal choice, consider a job in sales. Vet techs who know how to land sales can make high commission-based salaries.

Surgical Vet Tech

Surgical vet techs work alongside veterinary surgeons inside operating rooms. They handle surgical equipment, operating room maintenance, and provide animal patient care before and after surgery. Like behavioral vet techs, surgical vet techs must be certified in the surgical specialty. Surgical vet techs need a deep understanding of surgical procedures and wound care, which takes lots of training to master. 

  • Average Salary: $46,813
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associate’s Degree and Specialist Vet Tech Certifications
  • Recommended Program(s): Animal Science

Equine Dental Technician

An equine dental technician has a specialized field of work, focusing on equine dental care and oral health. Equine dental techs “float” horses’ teeth to keep them aligned and comfortable. Equine dental technicians should have a two-year veterinary technician degree, but a four-year veterinary technology degree is preferred for better job prospects. Additionally, this type of vet tech will require certification, which may require more schooling. 

  • Average Salary: $50,000
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associates Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, and Trade School Certification
  • Recommended Program(s): Animal ScienceAnimal Health

Veterinary Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Veterinary pharmaceutical sales reps market medications and other health products directly to licensed veterinarians for use in their clinics. They identify and follow up on sales leads and must have a strong working knowledge of all pharmaceutical products in their inventory. Depending on how good a representative is at sales, their salary could skyrocket based on commissions. Veterinary pharmaceutical sales reps often travel for work. 

  • Average Salary: $79,000+ (salary and commissions)
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Recommended Program: Animal Science 


Non-Profit Options for Vet Techs

Most folks who follow the vet tech path are highly altruistic and compassionate. Sometimes this leads to a yearning to work in the nonprofit sector. Luckily, there are plenty of nonprofit alternative jobs for vet techs.

Unfortunately, there are always animals in need in every corner of the world. Humane societies, animal shelters, rescue organizations, and animal welfare advocacy groups are always in need of registered vet technicians. 

Animal Shelter Vet Tech

Animal shelters house stray, orphaned, lost, and abandoned animals that often require veterinary care. Vet technicians help veterinarians care for the special-needs animals in animal shelters that otherwise wouldn’t get the help they need. Specialists, such as surgery technicians, may require specialty certifications that require extra training. Otherwise, most vet techs only require a two-year degree to work in animal shelters

  • Average Salary: $31,200
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associates’ Degree
  • Recommended Program: Veterinary Tech

Animal Advocacy Vet Tech

Non-profit animal advocacy groups rely on vet techs who have experience caring for animals. The Humane Society and the ASPCA are two non-profit animal advocacy organizations that hire vet techs to help take care of animals in need and to promote animal welfare. While these organizations do rely heavily on volunteers, they have paid positions as well. Most vet tech positions only require a two-year degree unless a specialist vet tech certification is needed. 

  • Average Salary: $31,200
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associate’s Degree
  • Recommended Program: Veterinary Tech

Wildlife Rehabilitator

Wildlife rehabilitators treat and care for wildlife that has been injured or orphaned. Often, veterinarians, humane societies, and animal control officers contact wildlife rehabbers when they come across an animal in need. Wildlife rehabbers tend wounds and ensure animals are fed and comfortable. While this job doesn’t require a college degree, Bachelor’s degrees in wildlife-related fields can be very beneficial. 

  • Average Salary: $30,000
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: No Degree Required, Licensing Required
  • Recommended Program: Animal ScienceWildlife Biology


Non-Clinical Jobs for Vet Techs

General practice vet techs usually find themselves working in animal hospitals and vet clinics. However, this environment isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of non-clinical vet tech jobs for those who prefer a less conventional occupational route. 

Zoos, aquariums, laboratories, farms, and more all require skilled technicians to care for animals. If you’re a vet tech graduate who doesn’t find the idea of clinical work exciting, consider a non-clinical vet tech job. 

Zoological Vet Tech

zoological vet tech assists with veterinary work at a zoo. Zoo animals require plenty of care, and zoo vet techs help veterinarians with medical procedures, examinations, medications, and more within the zoo’s facilities. Zoological vet science is a specialty and requires training and certification specific to zoological medicine. Once a vet tech has their two-year degree, they must go through the training and certification process to gain the zoological technician certification. 

  • Average Salary: $40,000
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associate’s Degree and Specialist Vet Tech Certifications
  • Recommended Program: Animal Science

Laboratory Animal Medicine Technician

Research labs at universities and private industry companies require vet techs to care for their testing animals. Lab animal vet techs keep animal environments clean, monitor behavior, collect and analyze samples, and keep detailed records. Laboratory animal vet science is yet another specialty that requires specific certifications. Entry-level positions don’t require a Bachelor’s degree, but one can come in handy for heavily scientific work.

  • Average Salary: $39,114
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree
  • Recommended Program: Animal Science

Animal Health Inspector

Animal health inspectors visit facilities to ensure animals are being housed and cared for properly. These facilities (livestock farms, markets, hatcheries, etc.) have to meet very strict guidelines. Inspectors work with veterinarians to monitor conditions. They testify at hearings when facilities are found in violation of laws and take part in shutting down illegal and non-compliant entities. Animal health inspectors are usually required to hold vet tech licenses and a Bachelor’s degree. 

  • Average Salary: $42,994
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree and Vet Tech Certification
  • Recommended Program: Animal Science


Discover Animal Career Paths with Unity Environmental University

At Unity Environmental University, you can find animal career paths of all kinds. Whether you are interested in working as a private clinical practice veterinary or out in the field as a wildlife researcher, Unity Environmental University has a degree program that will get you started today. Now you know what comes after vet tech – an abundance of exciting veterinary technology career paths