Is becoming a veterinary technician right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do veterinary technicians do?

Still unsure if becoming a veterinary technician is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a veterinary technician or another similar career!

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How to become a Veterinary Technician

Becoming a veterinary technician involves a combination of education, training, and certification. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent: Some veterinary technology programs may have specific prerequisite courses in subjects like biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Check the requirements of the program you're interested in.
  • Choose an Accredited Program: Enroll in a veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Accredited programs ensure you receive quality education that meets industry standards.
  • Complete a veterinary technology program: Earn an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology from a two-year program. During this time, you'll receive comprehensive training in animal health, medical procedures, and laboratory techniques.
  • Clinical Experience: Many programs require a certain number of hours of hands-on clinical experience. This practical training gives you real-world exposure to veterinary practices and procedures.
  • Pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE): After graduating from an accredited program, you need to pass the VTNE. This comprehensive exam assesses your knowledge and competency in veterinary technology. It's administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB).
  • State Licensure or Registration: Some states require veterinary technicians to obtain a license or be registered to practice. Requirements vary by state, so check with your state's veterinary board for specific details.
  • Continuing Education: To maintain your certification and stay updated on the latest practices, you'll need to participate in ongoing continuing education activities.
  • Optional Specialization: After becoming a certified veterinary technician, you can choose to specialize in areas such as anesthesia, dentistry, internal medicine, surgery, and more. Specialization often involves additional education and training.
  • Professional Organizations: Consider joining professional organizations like the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). Membership can provide networking opportunities, access to resources, and a sense of community within the field.
  • Career Advancement: With experience and additional training, you can pursue roles with more responsibilities, such as veterinary technician supervisor, practice manager, or even teaching or research opportunities.

Veterinary technicians can pursue certifications to demonstrate their expertise, enhance their career opportunities, and provide a higher level of care to animals. Here are some notable certifications for veterinary technicians:

  • Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT): Some states require veterinary technicians to become registered or licensed in order to practice. Requirements vary by state but often include completing an accredited veterinary technology program, passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), and meeting state-specific requirements.
  • Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS): This advanced credential signifies expertise in a specialized area of veterinary medicine. Various specialties are recognized by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), including anesthesia, dentistry, internal medicine, surgery, and more. Earning a VTS designation involves meeting specific education and experience criteria and passing a challenging examination.
  • VTS in Anesthesia and Analgesia: Anesthesia specialists are skilled in administering anesthesia, monitoring patients during procedures, and managing pain. This specialization is essential for ensuring safe and comfortable surgeries and medical treatments.
  • VTS in Emergency and Critical Care: Emergency and critical care specialists are trained to handle urgent and life-threatening cases. They excel in stabilizing critical patients, administering emergency treatments, and providing intensive care.
  • VTS in Dentistry: Dentistry specialists focus on oral health, performing dental cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries. Their expertise contributes to preventing dental disease and maintaining overall well-being.
  • VTS in Internal Medicine: Internal medicine specialists assist in diagnosing and treating complex medical conditions. They work closely with veterinarians to manage diseases affecting various systems of the body.
  • Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP): Pain management specialists focus on assessing and alleviating pain in animals. They are skilled in recognizing signs of pain and implementing effective pain relief strategies.
  • Certified Canine Rehabilitation Assistant (CCRA): Rehabilitation assistants work in animal rehabilitation centers, aiding in the recovery of animals after surgery or injury. They use therapeutic exercises and techniques to improve mobility and strength.
  • Certified Equine Rehabilitation Technician (CERT): Equine rehabilitation technicians specialize in rehabilitating horses after injuries or surgeries. They utilize various techniques to promote healing and enhance performance.
  • Exotic Companion Mammal Credential (ECM): This certification focuses on the care and treatment of small exotic mammals like rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets. ECM-certified technicians are skilled in providing specialized care for these animals.
  • Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT): Laboratory animal technicians work in research settings, providing care to animals used in scientific studies. The LAT certification indicates proficiency in animal husbandry, health monitoring, and research support.