How to Get Your Vet Tech License

How to Get Your Vet Tech License: Steps and Requirements

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Introduction

With an aging pet population and an increased focus on preventive care, the demand for veterinary technicians is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Becoming a vet tech is a great way to enter the field of veterinary medicine, and with the right training and licensing, you can be on your way to a successful career in no time.

In order to practice as a veterinary technician, you must first obtain a license from your state’s licensing board. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but most states require completion of an accredited vet tech program and passing scores on national and state exams.

If you’re interested in becoming a vet tech, read on for more information about how to get your license.

Who is a Veterinary Technician?

A veterinary technician is an allied health professional who works closely with veterinarians and other animal health care professionals to provide quality medical care for animals. Veterinary technicians are educated in the clinical sciences including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, diagnostic imaging, laboratory procedures, nutrition, and animal husbandry. In addition, they receive training in communication and animal welfare.

The term “veterinary technician” is used in the United States; in Canada the equivalent title is “veterinary technologist”. The duties of a veterinary technician are similar to those of a registered nurse in a human hospital. They may include taking patient histories, performing diagnostic tests such as x-rays and blood work, administering medications and vaccines, assisting during surgery, and providing postoperative care. Veterinary technicians also play an important role in client education and communication.

Duties of a Veterinary Technician

As a veterinary technician, you will be responsible for a wide variety of tasks. You will need to be able to take care of both the medical and the administrative needs of your animal patients. Your duties will include everything from taking x-rays and administering medications to keeping records and scheduling appointments. You will be an important member of the veterinary team, working closely with the veterinarian and other technicians to provide the best possible care for your animal patients.

Educational Requirements

There are a few paths you can take to becoming a licensed veterinary technician. The most common is to complete a 2-year Associate’s degree in veterinary technology at an accredited community college or technical school. Alternatively, you could complete a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology, though this is less common. Either way, you’ll need to complete an externship of about 6-12 weeks as part of your program in order to graduate.

Admission into a Veterinary Technician Program

The first step to becoming a licensed veterinary technician is to complete an accredited veterinary technology program. These programs typically take two to four years to complete and lead to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, depending on the school.

Prospective students should make sure that their chosen program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Once you have completed an accredited program, you will need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) in order to become licensed.

The Veterinary Technician National Exam

The Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is the final step you must take in order to become credentialed as a veterinary technician. The VTNE is a computer-based test consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions that cover the following content areas:

-Shelter medicine
-Anesthesia
-Laboratory procedures
-Pharmacology
-Radiology
-Surgery
-Clinical pathology
-Dentistry
-Animal welfare and ethics

The State Veterinary Technician Exam

The State Veterinary Technician Exam is an examination that is required in order to become a licensed veterinary technician. This exam is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) and is taken after completing an accredited veterinary technology program.

The AAVSB RVT credentialing program assures that individuals who have graduated from an accredited veterinary technology program and have successfully passed the state veterinary technician exam are qualified to provide safe and effective patient care under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

Individuals who wish to take the state veterinary technician exam must first apply to take the examination with the AAVSB. Once an application has been submitted, individuals will be notified of their eligibility to take the examination.

Eligible individuals will then be able to register for the examination with the AAVSB and select a testing site and date. The state veterinary technician examination is offered year-round at testing sites across the United States.

Once registered, individuals will receive an email confirmation with instructions on how to access their ADAPT testing account and schedule their examination appointment. ADAPT is the computer-based testing system that is used for administration of the state veterinary technician exam.

Appointments for the state veterinary technician exam are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis and slots fill up quickly, so it is important to register as soon as possible.

TheState Veterinary Technician Examconsists of 160 multiple-choice questions that are divided into four 40-question sections:
-Animal Care & Management (40 questions)
-Laboratory Procedures (40 questions)
-Pharmacology & Pharmacy (40 questions)
-Clinical Nursing & Anesthesia (40 questions)

Sections 1 – 3 are administered in a proctored environment at approved test centers nationwide. Section 4 is self-administered at home or work, on your own schedule, within 7 days of taking Sections 1 – 3.

Continuing Education for Veterinary Technicians

As a veterinary technician, you will be expected to stay current in your field. Most states require veterinary technicians to take continuing education (CE) courses on a regular basis in order to maintain their license. The number of CE hours required and the frequency with which they must be taken vary from state to state, so it’s important to check with your state’s licensing board for specific requirements.

There are many ways to fulfill your CE requirements. You can attend seminars, workshops, or conferences; take online courses; or even listen to webinars. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers a wide variety of CE opportunities, both online and in-person. In addition, many state veterinary medical associations offer CE programs.

Not all CE courses are created equal, so it’s important to choose courses that will actually benefit you in your job. When selecting a course, consider the following factors:
-Is the course approved by your state’s licensing board?
-Does the course cover material that is relevant to your work as a veterinary technician?
-Is the course being offered by a reputable organization?
-Will the course count towards other professional development goals, such as certification or recertification?

Once you’ve found a course that meets all of the above criteria, be sure to register early — these courses can fill up quickly!

Veterinary Technician Salary

Vet techs are in high demand and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 19% growth in the field by 2028. A bachelor’s degree is the standard educational path to become a vet tech, but many workers enter the occupation with an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. Aspiring vet techs must also pass a state-level exam to earn licensure.

While vetrinary technician salaries can vary by state, the BLS reports that the median annual wage for vet techs was $35,320 as of May 2019. The top 10% of earners in the profession made more than $51,030 that year, while the bottom 10% earned less than $23,490.

Veterinary Technician Job Outlook

The job outlook for veterinary technicians is excellent. Employment of vet techs is expected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. A growing number of pet owners and an aging population of pet owners will result in increased demand for veterinary care and services.

As the need for animal medical care continues to grow, so does the need for qualified veterinary technicians. Graduates of accredited vet tech programs can find jobs in private clinics, animal hospitals, laboratories, rescue organizations, shelters, and zoos.

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