How to become a 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 of a 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 a 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 in Captive Animals or Animal Technology. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Animal Technician

Animal technicians may perform the following tasks:

  • 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
  • inspect and test animals for worm infestation and disease
  • 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
  • assist with the design and use of animal experimentation and research protocols
  • euthanise animals humanely (under supervision) and handle animals that have died
  • participate in embryo transfer procedures
  • assist with post-mortem examinations on dead animals.

Working conditions for a 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 a 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.

Specialisations:


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.

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