Veterinary Pathology Technician - Tennessee 

For Tennessee to become a national leader in agriculture and forestry through economic advancement, innovation, and natural resource stewardship by commitment to service, family, farms, and healthy living.

To serve all the citizens of Tennessee by providing options for responsible use of our agricultural and forest resources, developing economic opportunities, safeguarding food and fiber, and ensuring equity in the marketplace.


Education and Experience: Graduation from an accredited college or university with a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, microbiology, medical technology, or related biological, physical or agricultural science.

Substitution of Experience for Education: Qualifying full-time technical experience in one or a combination of the following: veterinary technician or assistant, meat processing, stockyard, diagnostic laboratory assistant, or other relevant medical field may be substituted for the required education, on a year-for-year basis, to a maximum of four years (e.g., experience equivalent to one year of full-time work in a combination of the above listed fields may substitute for one year of the required education).

OR Licensed as a Veterinary Technician

Other Requirements Necessary Special Qualifications: A valid driver's license may be required.

Examination Method: Education and Experience, 100%, for Preferred Service positions.


Summary: Under general supervision, is responsible for assisting veterinary pathologists during necropsy, processing tissue samples for testing, distributing and storing, removing carcass remains for incineration, and cleaning the lab following completion of the necropsy.

Distinguishing Features: An employee in this class performs a variety of tasks of average difficulty including but not limited to dissecting animals, disposing of animal tissue, sample collection and sample processing. This class differs from that of Microbiologist 2, in that the incumbent of the latter functions at the working level performing technical microscopic analysis and identification of micro-organisms in their relation to disease.

Work Activities

Analyzing Data or Information:

  • Enters important information (e.g., veterinary clinic, veterinarian, animal identification) into laboratory information management software program using computer to generate an accession number.

Processing Information:

  • Verifies the sample submitted matches the information on the submission form and is correct for the test requested through visual inspection and reading the form thoroughly.
  • Verifies the completeness of the submission form (e.g., specs, submitting party, age of animal) for entry into the laboratory information management software program.

Interacting With Computers:

  • Uses computers and computer software daily to enter accessioning information, recording tissue sample information, retrieving accession specific information, printing barcode labels, timekeeping and other administrative responsibilities.

Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards:

  • Performs tasks associated with biosecurity and biosafety (e.g., chemical foot baths, sample packaging, personal protective equipment) following established quality assurance protocols.

Coaching and Developing Others:

  • Provides and documents on the job training for new technicians by first demonstrating a new task, assisting the new technician with the task and then observing the new technician perform the task.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates:

  • Communicates with other laboratory personnel such as the front office staff, other technicians, and pathologists to enhance customer service and improve workflow.

Performing General Physical Activities:

  • Physically restrains animals using halter, rope, or other appropriate method to assist the Veterinary Pathologist performing euthanasia.
  • Unloads animals (alive or dead) from cars, trucks, trailers, etc. using physical exertion, chains, hoists, carts or other methods to bring into the laboratory for necropsy.
  • Shovels ashes and bones from the incinerator onto conveyor belt into a dumpster to clean incinerator.
  • Prepares animal carcasses for storage and disposal by reducing size of animal into manageable parts using saws and knives, placing in storage bins using hoists if needed and storing in cooler.
  • Cleans laboratory after necropsy has been performed by hosing down, scrubbing, disinfecting all surfaces (e.g., floors, tables, tools) following established protocol. 
  • Disposes of used formalin and other hazardous chemicals following established protocols (e.g., wearing appropriate gear, using appropriate containers, using outlined safety procedures).

Documenting/Recording Information:

  • Completes test request forms for routing samples to appropriate laboratory sections under the supervision of the Veterinary Pathologist.
  • Records specimen number in the daily log of specimens (hard copy) and electronically into for laboratory information management system software.

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events:

  • Identifies sample types through visual inspection and determines if the sample is appropriate for the test requested.
  • Labels samples and submission forms with bar code generated from laboratory information management software program to ensure the traceability of the sample throughout the diagnostic process.
  • Categorizes samples into groupings determined by the tests to be performed and routes them to the appropriate laboratory section.

Handling and Moving Objects:

  • Prosects dead animals to assist Veterinary Pathologist in necropsy using electric saws, band saws, rib cutters, knives and other tools.
  • Trims formalin fixed tissues using scalpel to place in tissue cassettes for preparation of microscope slides.
  • Creates cassette labeled with an accession number to be used for preparation of microscope slides using a cassette printer.
  • Labels and arranges supplies (e.g., foam trays, swabs, tubes, scalpels) used for tissue collection and processing. 
  • Maintains (i.e., storing and labeling) and organizes archived tissue specimens according to sample type and preservation method to be used for retrospective testing if necessary.
  • Disposes of tissue specimens using appropriate method for the preservation method (e.g., garbage, autoclave).
  • Prepares tissue samples for processing by arranging in numerical order and sample type.

Getting Information:

  • Receives animal samples (e.g., tissue, blood, food) from the US mail, express carriers, or in person and gathers information from the submission form to verify the submitted information matches the sample provided.
  • Collects samples of animal tissue for diagnostic testing using knives, scissors, needles or other tools.
  • Weighs animals using electronic scale to gather and report information to be used in billing for carcass disposal.
  • Take picture of animals (with accession number) using digital camera to ensure traceability of animals in necropsy laboratory.

Controlling Machines and Processes:

  • Operates incinerator following standard safety protocols.
  • Disposes of animal carcasses loaded in up to 500 pound bins using hoists to dump bin contents into an incinerator.

Communicating with Persons Outside Organization:

  • Provides compassionate customer service when receiving animals for necropsy from grieving pet owners.
  • Contacts the submitting party (e.g., pet owner, veterinary clinic) via telephone to verify and clarify the intent or purpose of the sample submission.
  • Contacts crematory on behalf of animal owner and facilitates transport of animal remains for private cremation.
  • Communicates with equipment service personnel to coordinate the repair or maintenance of equipment.
  • Communicates with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to facilitate the delivery of animals killed on Tennessee roads.

Performing Administrative Activities:

  • Researches products and orders supplies not maintained in the central storehouse by filling out appropriate paperwork.
  • Evaluates levels of inventory of daily use items such as gloves, scalpel blades and sample containers through visual inspection to determine need for restocking or ordering of new supplies.
  • Rotate stock and dispose of expired products in inventory on a weekly basis.
  • Restocks the working areas with supplies (e.g., gloves, containers, scalpel blades) to enhance the workflow of the laboratory.
  • Maintains purchase order log to document receipt of orders, track purchases and evaluate need for future purchases.

Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment:

  • Inspects and sharpens knives using electronic knife sharpener for use in necropsy laboratory.
  • Verifies autoclave is properly functioning by running monthly performance tests (i.e., spore test).
  • Performs and records preventative maintenance on various pieces of equipment used in necropsy and tissue processing laboratory (e.g., autoclave, band saw, cassette printer).
  • Check temperature reading on thermometer of refrigerators, coolers and freezers used for tissue storage and records data using log.

Competencies (KSA'S) Competencies:

  • Dealing with Ambiguity
  • Composure
  • Technical Learning
  • Organizing
  • Patience
  • Self-Knowledge
  • Standing Alone
  • Perseverance 
  • Interpersonal Savvy

Time Management Knowledge:

  • Biology
  • Mechanical
  • Clerical


  • Writing
  • Active Learning
  • Active Listening
  • Coordination
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Equipment Selection
  • Time Management


  • Oral Comprehension
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Spatial Orientation
  • Time Sharing
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness
  • Finger Dexterity
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Multi limb Coordination
  • Reaction Time
  • Dynamic Strength
  • Gross Body Coordination
  • Gross Body Equilibrium
  • Static Strength
  • Trunk Strength
  • Depth Perception
  • Memorization
  • Oral Expression
  • Perceptual Speed
  • Dynamic Flexibility
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Information Ordering
  • Written Comprehension
  • Near Vision

Tools and Equipment Used

  • Computer
  • Power Saws: Band saw, Reciprocating Saw, Oscillating Saw 
  • Autoclave
  • Electric Hoist
  • Gas Incinerator
  • Hand tools: knives, scalpels, forceps, hedge cutters, needles, syringes

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Tennessee State Department of Agriculture  | 615-837-5103 | 440 Hogan Road • Nashville, TN 37220