8 Alternative Career Paths for Veterinary Technicians - Vet Relief Staffing | Veterinary System Services

8 Alternative Career Paths for Veterinary Technicians

I left veterinary medicine in 2014, almost exactly a decade after I started working in the field. I was burned out, bored, frustrated, and looking for a way out—any way out. I didn’t see a path forward for me in the industry. If I didn’t want to specialize or go into management, it seemed as if there were no other options. It wasn’t until I came back to the field that I found out exactly how many opportunities there actually were for me here. If you are a veterinary technician who is feeling frustrated and struggling to find your next step, here are some exciting options that will allow you to move forward and stay in the field you love so much.

#1: Sales representative

Whether you’re working for a distributor, a pharmaceutical company, or a technology company (think ultrasound, endoscopy, software, etc.), the veterinary industry is filled with sales representatives who love meeting new people and talking to them about how their products can help improve life on the clinic floor for their clients. If you’re extroverted and organized, and are the “go-to” estimate person, this job might be for you! Consider the following:

  • A fair amount of travel
  • Lots of client face time
  • Constantly meeting new people
  • Directly helping the veterinary industry through clinics
  • Commission-based compensation
  • May need to work weekends or evenings for trade shows and events

#2: Diagnostics technician

Many veterinary technology companies utilize technicians to help with setup and technical issues for their products. Are you the go-to tech savvy person in your practice? Do you enjoy traveling and customer care? This could be a great opportunity as you step away from the clinic floor. Consider the following:

  • Usually 75 to 80% travel
  • Lots of client face time
  • Constantly meeting new people
  • Directly helping the veterinary industry through clinics
  • Heavy technical knowledge, for hardware and software setup

#3: Customer service specialist

Between COVID-19 and the digital revolution, there are many new opportunities to work from home. Many veterinary companies are recruiting customer service specialists to be available for client questions, concerns, and education. This takes a high-touch commitment to customer service, and the ability to smooth over client complaints and close sales in some companies. If you are the cool-headed technician who’s always tapped for frustrated clients, and you enjoy the challenge of resolving client concerns, this might be the job for you. Consider the following:

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Acute ability to dig deeper to understand client concerns
  • Flexibility to work from home, but may not have a flexible schedule
  • Lots of time sitting at a desk and/or on a phone

#4: Educator, speaker, or author

Do you enjoy researching information and sharing it with people? Do you like teaching new technicians and/or doctors in your practice? Maybe you should look at ways you can work as a teacher, speaker, or author in the veterinary community. With just a little networking and some persistence, you can connect with people who can help get your writing published, or introduced to the right audience for the information you want to share. Consider the following:

  • Proficient writing or speaking skills
  • Ability to connect with your audience to keep them engaged
  • Organization skills that allow you to hold yourself accountable for deadlines
  • Possible travel opportunities
  • Responsibility and pride in molding the future minds of veterinary medicine

#5: Consultant

Do you have advanced knowledge or an advanced degree in specific areas that would benefit veterinary professionals (e.g., VTS, CVPM, MBA)? You may be eligible to work as a consultant in veterinary medicine to help raise the field to the next level. Perhaps you can help practices implement telemedicine, perfect their inventory management, or train technicians or teams in advanced techniques. Create the role you want based on the specific parts of the industry that you’re passionate about. Consider the following:

  • Requires a strong ability to market yourself
  • With many consultants in the industry, it can be competitive, unless you find a specific niche that’s underserved
  • You’ll need to either find an “umbrella company” to work under, or create your own business with appropriate insurance

#6: Recruiter

Do you have experience interviewing and recruiting people at your current practice? Have you thought about working for a recruiting firm, or a large corporate hospital conglomerate as a recruiter? You would network with veterinary professionals, post job ads, and do initial screening interviews before passing them along to clients to decide if they’ll be hiring your candidate. Consider the following:

  • Pay will be dependent on the type of recruiter you are—it may be placement-based with a lower base salary, or a higher base with less placement-commission opportunities
  • You may need to be available at off-hours to discuss opportunities with candidates
  • Opportunity to meet many new people and learn about various positions you’re trying to fill

#7: Nonprofit work

There are many nonprofits in the veterinary industry, from research nonprofits, like the Morris Animal Foundation, to local and national associations, shelters, zoos, and rescues. Working for a nonprofit allows you to align your work with your passion for veterinary medicine without working on the floor. As there are many different opportunities in nonprofit work, it’s difficult to clearly define what your responsibilities might be, but do some research on these titles:

  • Association manager
  • Director
  • Grant writer
  • Event planner
  • Board member (usually volunteer, but a great way to get a foot in the door!)
  • Conservation
  • Community educator

#8: Relief technician

Need a break from your day-to-day so you can plan for your future? Consider relief work. Work full- or part-time as a relief employee while you decide where you want to take your career. You’ll have complete control over your schedule and can use your spare time to focus on what you want to do. Are you applying for another job? Have you decided to go back to school? Take a step back from your full-time job responsibilities, and work relief until you find your forever home. Who knows—maybe you’ll decide to work relief long-term! Consider:

  • Strong technical skill set
  • Great organizational skills to manage your schedule
  • Ability to create rapport with client clinics 
  • Create your own schedule
  • Learn new procedures and techniques

This is not a complete list, but it should give you a great starting place to think about your next step. You don’t have to leave the field you love so much to grow and move forward! Take some time to consider all your options, and really use the job-seeking process to interview potential employers to find the perfect job for you.

KS Headshot

Katie is a CVT, wife, mother and adventurous chef. When shes not helping clients (or being a mom-work in progress). She can be found hiking, traveling, reading or trying out a new hobby to see if it will stick.