Agribusiness, Horticulture & Fishing
Animal technicians work with scientists, looking after animals used for research, breeding and scientific purposes.
What does an Animal Technician do?
Animal technicians help veterinarians, medical, animal, agricultural and general scientists to look after animals used for research, breeding and scientific purposes.
As an animal technician, you would:
- feed and water animals, and clean out and sanitise pens, cages, tanks, and hutches
- monitor animals for any sign of illness or injury
- administer vaccines through drinking water, injections, or powder dusted into the air to immunise animals from diseases
- treat minor injuries and ailments and call in veterinarians to treat animals with serious illnesses or injuries
- observe animals in heat to detect fertililty cycle and use methods such as exercise induce or change the cycle.
Animal technicians may work in breeding programs selecting which animals or semen samples should be used based on knowledge of the animals, genealogies, and wanted offspring characteristics or bloodlines. This requires knowledge of artificial insemination techniques and equipment use. Breeding programs involve keeping records on samples, heats, birth intervals, or pedigree.
Key skills and interests
To become an animal technician, you would need:
- a commitment to the care and welfare of animals
- a respect for commercial confidentiality
- good maths skills
- close attention to detail
- keen interest in science and research
- the ability to keep accurate records
- good computer skills
- the ability to work as part of a team.
Working hours and conditions
Animals need care 24 hours a day, all year round. This means you would usually work on a roster including weekends, public holidays, and possibly occasional nights. Part-time work may be available.
The role is generally based in purpose-built facilities. Depending on the types of animals involved, some of the work may be outdoors. You may need to wear protective clothing and shoes.
The working temperature, humidity, noise and lighting of your working environment will be strictly controlled, and you would be expected to follow strict hygiene protocols. It is common for access to facilities be restricted to authorised staff only.
Employers of animal technicians include research institutions such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), government veterinary laboratories, universities, major hospitals, animal breeding establishments and zoos.
How to become an Animal Technician?
Entry Level Education
To become an animal technician a VET qualification in animal technology, captive animals or laboratory technology specialising in biological testing, environmental monitoring or biotechnology is generally required. Applicants may be required to have access to a relevant workplace to complete the qualification.
Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require junior secondary school certificate or equivalent.
Opportunities for animal technicians are likely to decline.
The work of animal technicians in a research setting may decline, as fewer forms of research use animals in their practices. Experimentation methods that do not use animals for medical and scientific research are resulting in fewer available roles for animal technicians. Roles in intensive animal breeding programs may also decrease as the public and supermarkets increasingly support free-range or pastured products rather than those farmed intensively. Opportunities will continue to exist in government veterinary laboratories, in livestock and other animal breeding, and in universities and zoos.