How to become an Animal Technician

Animal technicians help veterinary, medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural and general scientists and students to care for and check on animals used for research, breeding and scientific purposes.

Personal requirements for an Animal Technician

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities
  • Interested in animals, their welfare and conservation
  • Able to handle animals with confidence and patience
  • Able to make accurate observations
  • Free from allergies aggravated by animal hair, feathers, fur and dust
  • Able to undertake manual and sometimes heavy work

Education & Training for an Animal Technician

To become an animal technician you usually have to complete a VET qualification in animal technology, captive animals or laboratory technology specialising in biological testing, environmental monitoring or biotechnology. Applicants may be required to attend an interview and/or have access to a relevant workplace. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information.You can also become an animal technician through a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.


Duties & Tasks of an Animal Technician

Animal technicians:

  • Perform daily checks and record the health status and behaviour of animals in their care
  • Prepare food and water, and provide care for laboratory, field or zoo animals
  • Maintain zoo exhibits, holding or breeding areas and equipment
  • Assist in return-to-the-wild and animal enrichment programs
  • Carry out experiments using animals, recording the results under supervision and according to relevant codes of practice and the organisation's animal experimentation ethics committee rules
  • Examine animals and take samples of their body fluids, faeces or tissue for analysis or veterinary inspection
  • Observe animals' reactions to tests
  • Make routine calculations, such as for drug dosage, and prepare graphs
  • Clean and disinfect cages and facilities, and sterilise equipment
  • Work under supervision to establish and maintain breeding programs
  • Assist with fertility testing for sheep, cattle or poultry research
  • Assist in the selection and grading of animals for breeding programs
  • Help with injections, surgery, dressings and care of animals after operations
  • Euthanise animals humanely (under supervision) and handle animals that have died.

Tasks

  • Collecting and collating data for research.
  • Assisting in developing new methods of planting, fertilising, harvesting and processing crops to achieve optimum land usage.
  • Planning slaughtering, harvesting and other aspects of production processes.
  • Examining topographical, physical and soil characteristics of farmland to determine its most effective use and identify nutrient deficiencies.
  • Identifying pathogenic micro-organisms and insects, parasites, fungi and weeds harmful to crops and livestock, and assisting in devising methods of control.
  • Assisting in controlled breeding experiments to develop improved crop and livestock strains.
  • May advise producers on farming techniques and management.
  • Arranging the supply of drugs, vaccines and other chemicals to Farmers and Farm Managers, and giving advice on their use.
  • Analysing produce to set and maintain standards of quality.
  • Inspecting livestock to gauge the effectiveness of feed formulae.

Working conditions for an Animal Technician

Animal technicians are usually required to work in shifts and on weekends. Some duties involve working with large animals and exotic species, which is often performed outdoors and conducted in all kinds of weather conditions. Much of their time is spent doing routine tasks such as cleaning exhibits and feeding animals.


Employment Opportunities for an Animal Technician

There is strong competition for positions in this field. Sources of employment include research institutions such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), government veterinary laboratories, universities, major hospitals, animal breeding establishments and zoos.


Specializations

Field Assistant

A field assistant cares for large animals, such as sheep and cattle used for research purposes, which are kept in outdoor pens and paddocks.

Zookeeper

A zookeeper helps to care for animals in zoos and wildlife parks, providing enrichment activities for the animals, assistance to veterinary staff and information to the public on animals and conservation.

Animal Technician

Animal technicians help veterinary, medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural and general scientists and students to care for and check on animals used for research, breeding and scientific purposes.

Field Assistant

A field assistant cares for large animals, such as sheep and cattle used for research purposes, which are kept in outdoor pens and paddocks.

Zookeeper

A zookeeper helps to care for animals in zoos and wildlife parks, providing enrichment activities for the animals, assistance to veterinary staff and information to the public on animals and conservation.

  • Average age
    Average age
    40 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Stable
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    37% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    42 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,441
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    High skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    80% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    1,300 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 2.3%
    NSW: 23.9%
    NT: 1.3%
    QLD: 18.7%
    SA: 10.6%
    TAS: 6.8%
    VIC: 22.9%
    WA: 13.5%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 2.2%
    20-24: 9.8%
    25-34: 26.4%
    35-44: 20.2%
    45-54: 20.7%
    55-59: 11%
    60-64: 6.3%
    65 and Over: 3.5%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 16%
    Bachelor degree: 28.6%
    Certificate III/IV: 19.9%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 9.2%
    Year 10 and below: 9.3%
    Year 11: 3.2%
    Year 12: 13.8%
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