Expectations of Abilities

Canine CPR practiceExpectations of Abilities for Veterinary Technician Students

The field of veterinary technology is both intellectually and physically challenging. A veterinary technician must have abilities and skills in many different areas. The list below may not be inclusive of all of the essential abilities and skills that the veterinary technician must demonstrate. Veterinary Technician Students must be able to perform the essential abilities and skills below. Students requiring special accommodations due to a disability, please contact the Veterinary Technician Program Director and the COCC Disability Services office.

Academic Proficiency

  • Earn a C (75%) or higher in all VT numbered courses;
  • maintain a minimum overall college GPA of 2.0;
  • be able to relate and integrate information from several sources;
  • apply critical thinking in both class work and in the clinic;
  • be able to perform complex medical calculations.


  • Observe a patient close by and from a distance;
  • recognize non-verbal responses from the patient, including behavioral signs of aggression, fear, and pain;
  • observe changes in physical status including respiration, heart rate and changes in mucous membrane color;
  • adjust instrumentation settings, interpret instrument readings and adjust equipment
  • monitor all parameters of anesthetic depth;
  • observe gait and behavior in a given animal;
  • recognize vocalizations, measure vital signs, hear equipment alarms and hear calls for assistance up to 10 feet away.


  • Communicate well in English, not only in speech but also in writing and reading;
  • demonstrate appropriate communication skills when interacting with team members, doctors, clients and other professionals;
  • document medical data and read documentation in a patient chart written by other veterinary health care personnel;
  • receive and issue clear instructions concerning the care of patients without the risk of misunderstanding.


  • Able to bend, twist, reach, stoop down and safely restrain different species of animals including large domestic animals, small companion animals, exotic animals and laboratory animals;
  • must be able to stand on your feet for a prolonged period of time (8-10 hours);
  • must be able to spend time on your knees or the floor for a prolonged period of time (20-80 mins);
  • have the ability to lift and carry objects weighing up to 50 pounds;
  • restrain and care for patients safely on even and uneven surfaces (surgical tables, cage banks, cage stalls, and clinic/barn floors);
  • have motor functions necessary to obtain information from patients by palpation, auscultation and percussion, scraping, venipuncture, and needle aspiration;
  • have tactile ability sufficient for treating and assessing patients;
  • have enough fine motor dexterity to manipulate small equipment, including dials to adjust equipment, manage IV lines, syringes, catheters, and all standard surgical equipment;
  • be able to follow safety procedures.


  • Manage animal patients and exercise good judgment;
  • attend to patients with compassion, integrity and have concern for the animals as well as human beings;
  • demonstrate socially appropriate behavior and remain calm and rational during emergency situations;
  • maintain cleanliness and personal grooming consistent with close personal contact;
  • be able to identify and manage stress in a mature and healthy manner;
  • be able to work independently, and as members of a team;
  • always show professionalism and dependability.