Additional Career Paths Having Completed a Veterinary Assistant Program
Laboratory Animal Caretaker
A laboratory animal caretaker, also known as a laboratory animal technician or animal care technician, is responsible for the care and maintenance of animals used in research, testing, and education. These professionals work in various settings, including research laboratories, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and government facilities. Their primary focus is ensuring the well-being of animals and maintaining a clean, safe, and healthy environment for them.
The primary responsibilities of a laboratory animal caretaker include:
- Feeding and watering animals: Laboratory animal caretakers are responsible for providing appropriate food and water to animals according to specific dietary requirements and schedules.
- Monitoring animal health: Caretakers regularly observe animals for signs of illness or distress and report any concerns to the veterinarian or research staff. They may also assist in administering medication or treatment under the supervision of a veterinarian.
- Cleaning and maintaining animal enclosures: This includes cleaning cages, pens, and other enclosures, as well as changing bedding and ensuring that animals have a clean and comfortable living environment.
- Ensuring proper environmental conditions: Laboratory animal caretakers monitor temperature, humidity, and lighting in animal housing areas to maintain appropriate conditions.
- Handling and restraining animals: Caretakers may need to handle animals for various purposes, such as moving them between enclosures, assisting with procedures, or administering medication. This requires proper animal handling and restraint techniques to minimize stress and ensure safety for both the animals and the caretaker.
- Maintaining records: Caretakers keep detailed records of animal care activities, such as feeding schedules, medication administration, and observations of animal health and behavior.
- Assisting with research procedures: In some cases, laboratory animal caretakers may assist researchers with experiments or data collection, which may involve handling animals, preparing samples, or operating equipment.
To become a laboratory animal caretaker, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. Some positions may require an associate’s degree or completion of a specialized training program in animal science or a related field. Voluntary certifications, such as the Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT) or Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) certification offered by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS), can help demonstrate competency in the field and may lead to additional job opportunities or higher pay.