Animal Health Technologists

Also Known As
Animal Health Technicians or Techs Laboratory Animal Techs
Laboratory Techs Registered Veterinary Techs (RVTs)
Veterinary Techs Veterinarian Assistants

What are the roles of animal health technologists in Canada?

Animal health techs do research, and give technical support to veterinarians and research scientists in laboratories. They provide care for both large and small animals in research studies. They also give medicine and vaccines, and record observations about animal behaviours and health.

In veterinary clinics, they care for animals and help to diagnose and treat animal health disorders.

They may also collect and prepare specimens for testing, run tests, and set up and maintain medical laboratory equipment.

What are the main duties of animal health technologists in Canada?


  • collect and prepare laboratory specimens for testing
  • perform routine laboratory tests
  • produce and develop radiographs using safe practices
  • do laboratory research
  • clean, maintain, and sterilize surgical and medical tools
  • ensure facility cleanliness to control the spread of disease
  • help with food-animal monitoring programs that promote food safety and public health

Basic Animal Care

  • prepare animals for examination or surgery
  • watch and evaluate clinical symptoms
  • help veterinarians with procedures and surgery
  • give and check anaesthetic
  • give prescribed medications and treatments
  • perform emergency first aid
  • clean animals’ teeth
  • restrain animals for examination and treatment
  • assist in the euthanasia of animals

Customer Service

  • provide animal health care education and support to owners (for example, regarding behaviour problems in pets, animal nutrition, grief counselling)
  • recommend and sell non-prescription products according to clinic standards


  • write reports
  • assist with accounting and billing
  • maintain research information
  • maintain medical records and log books
  • fill and dispense prescriptions
  • manage pharmaceutical and product inventory

What are the desired traits of animal health technologists in Canada?

Animal health techs are confident working with animals. They have a strong interest in medicine, they’re good at math and keeping organized records, and they enjoy working in a laboratory, even when they have to work quickly and make tough decisions. Animal health techs are healthy and strong, and they are good at working with their hands. They’re also honest, they are good communicators who work well as part of a team, and they enjoy having clear rules for their work.

Where do animal health technologists work?

  • private veterinary practices and animal hospitals
  • research laboratories, e.g., biomedical, agri-biotech, pharmaceutical
  • kennels, animal shelters and humane societies
  • zoos, wildlife parks and rehabilitation centres
  • the Canadian Forces
  • government departments and food inspection agencies
  • pet store companies that sell animal care or pharmaceutical supplies
  • farms and feedlots
  • post-secondary institutions

What might the typical work conditions be?

Working with animals can be very rewarding. Sometimes it can be difficult both physically and emotionally. Treating abused animals or having to end an animal’s life can be stressful. Animals may sometimes bite or scratch when animal health techs lift, hold, or restrain them. Safety precautions reduce the risk of injury.

Sometimes the work environment is noisy with strong, unpleasant smells. Other hazards may include exposure to radiation, biohazards, anaesthetics (gases), and animal diseases that can transfer to humans.

Hours may include days, evenings, weekends, nights, emergency on-call rotations, or overtime in emergency situations.

What qualifications are Canadian employers looking for?

Employers want to hire people who have completed a two- or three-year animal health or veterinary technology college program. For a list of accredited programs in Canada, click here.

Employment requirements vary among employers and provincial governments. Some employers may require completion of a national registration examination. Some provinces require registration with a provincial animal health techs’ or veterinary techs’ association.

For more information about what is required to work in different provinces as an animal health tech, see the list of provincial associations on the website for the Canadian Association of Animal Health Technologists and Technicians.

What communication skills do employers expect?

Animal health techs need to have a good grasp of industry terminology and be able to interact with colleagues and clients in English. Although there is no formal English language prerequisite for animal health techs, their chances of success will increase if their language skills are at a high school level or equivalent.

Animal health techs use communication skills on the job in many ways:

  • They review procedures in textbooks and references. They must understand the medical language used in these textbooks so they are able to follow treatment procedures and help veterinarians with diagnoses and treatments.
  • They enter quantities, product names, and prices on forms when ordering supplies from pharmaceutical and pet food companies.
  • They review paperwork with clients to ensure the client understands the veterinary procedures and associated costs that the form authorizes.
  • They fill out many medical and regulatory forms and record animal information. Some forms include drawings of animals for the animal health tech to mark affected areas onto.
  • They interact with drug and food companies to order supplies, learn about new products, and solve problems with payments and deliveries.

To see examples of other Essential Skills used by animal health techs in the workplace, go to Explore Careers by Essential Skills on the Working in Canada website.

The ability to speak and write in multiple languages can be an advantage in Canada’s multicultural environment.

What is the wage for this occupation?

Wages are affected by the workers’ level of education, work experience, and job responsibilities, plus the job location and conditions, and whether the employees are unionized. The numbers provided below represent a national average for low, median (mid-point), and high wages (before taxes).

Low Median High
$12 per hour $17 per hour $25 per hour
$24,960 per year $35,360 per year $52,000 per year

For wage information in specific parts of Canada, go to Explore Careers by Wages on the Working in Canada website.

What opportunities for advancement are available to animal health technologists?

Animal health techs should be prepared to continue learning and improving. This can be done through on-the-job training, seminars, or courses with organizations such as the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science (CALAS). Animal health techs may advance to be supervisors or managers with the right training and experience, and with a good work record.

For a typical career path for animal health techs in the biotechnology industry, see BioTalent Canada’s BioCareer Pathway for Animal Care Attendant.

Where can I find out more about animal health technologists in Canada?

Refer to the Introductory Page [layout suggestion: insert link to Introductory Page] for general career information and job search ideas.

More details about animal health techs are available at:

Canadian Association of Animal Health Technologists and Technicians. This organization provides the provincial associations with a place to discuss issues and plays an important role in international issues.

Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). The CCAC sets standards on the care and usage of animals in science. These standards apply across Canada.

CALAS (Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science) is a national association that provides high quality training and educational resources to animal care professionals in Canada. It supports professional, ethical, compassionate animal research, when it is necessary. Its training and certification programs are voluntary and are recommended by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

BioTalent Canada connects employers with job seekers and provides skills development tools to help strengthen Canada’s biotech business. Visit the BioCareer Pathways and the Bio-economy Skills Profiles for animal care attendant, technician, and manager in the career tools section of its website.

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) represents the veterinary profession in Canada. CMVA is committed to excellence within the profession and to the well-being of animals.