How To Become A Veterinary Technologist and Technician

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians perform medical tests in a laboratory environment for use in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases in animals. Prepare vaccines and serums for prevention of diseases. Prepare tissue samples, take blood samples, and execute laboratory tests, such as urinalysis and blood counts. Clean and sterilize instruments and materials and maintain equipment and machines. May assist a veterinarian during surgery.

Becoming One
Associate's degree
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Table of contents
  1. Summary
  2. Steps to become one
  3. Popular degree levels
  4. How long does it take


Degree Associate's degree
Degree field Veterinary Technology
License or certification Most states require Vet Technicians to become certified by a state board or professional organization
Duration to become one 2 to 4 years
Difficulty to become one Medium

Vet Technicians typically need at least an Associate’s Degree but may earn a Bachelor’s Degree to increase their career prospects. Veterinary Technology is the required field of study for Vet Technicians. Most states require Vet Technicians to become certified by a state board or professional organization.

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Veterinary Technologists and Technicians Requirements

Step 1: Take Science and Health Courses in High School

Aspiring Vet Technicians should take Biology, Chemistry, and Health classes, as the knowledge provided will be useful during college.

Students may also consider volunteering. Volunteering at an animal shelter or a vet clinic can provide hands-on experience working with animals and exposure to the equipment and tools used by Vet Technicians.

Step 2: Earn an Associate’s Degree

Most employers require Vet Technicians to have at least an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology. It is also a licensing requirement in many states.

The program must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Most programs take two years to complete and are often available through community colleges and universities.

Students typically take courses on the fundamentals of veterinary nursing, animal anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathology, diagnostic imaging techniques, veterinary pharmacology, and large and exotic animal care.

Some veterinary programs require students to complete internships. During an internship, interns work under the supervision of licensed Veterinarians.

Step 3: Consider Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Technology is not typically required by employers but increases a candidate’s employability. Choosing a different major may also lead to greater career prospects.

For example, students may choose to earn a degree in Veterinary Science to potentially pursue a career as a Veterinarian. A degree in Business Administration could be useful for seeking an administrative role at an animal hospital or clinic.

Aspiring Vet Technicians may enroll in a Bachelor’s program immediately after high school. Individuals who have already obtained an Associate’s Degree can take the additional courses required to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. Many of the credits completed when earning an Associate’s Degree can be applied toward a Bachelor’s Degree.

Step 4: Obtain Certification as a Veterinary Technician

Most states require Veterinary Technicians to obtain a certification or a license from an approved organization. Only the states of Alaska, California, and Wisconsin do not require licensing or certification to work as a Veterinary Technician.

The requirements vary from state to state, but the process typically involves passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), which is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

The VTNE includes 170 multiple choice questions and takes about three hours to complete. It covers topics that Vet Technicians need to understand to work in this field, including animal dentistry, anesthesia, diagnostic imaging, emergency medicine, and pharmacology.

After passing the exam, candidates receive the Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) credential. Instead of a license, some states require certification through a private organization. Individuals who obtain certification are called Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVTs).

Step 5: Look for Vet Technician Jobs

After meeting all applicable state requirements, start looking for work as a Vet Technician. Common employers for Vet Technicians include animal hospitals, vet clinics, veterinary laboratories, and colleges.

Private clinics and animal hospitals are the biggest employers of Vet Technicians, as veterinary services account for 90% of all jobs in this field. About 4% of Vet Technicians work at colleges or universities. Two percent of Vet Technicians work for social advocacy organizations, such as the humane society.  

Vet Technicians typically receive on-the-job training after gaining employment. For the first several months, a Vet Technician may work under the supervision of licensed technicians.

Step 6: Maintain Your Certification or License

Many states require Vet Technicians to renew their licenses or certifications every three years. The requirements vary. However, Vet Technicians often need to complete continuing education (CE) courses and submit a renewal form.

For example, many states require Vet Technicians to complete 15 hours of CE every three years. The courses are typically offered through community colleges and vocational schools. Some CE options may also be available online.

Individuals who allow their license to lapse may need to pay an additional fee when reapplying for a license. Some states may also require additional CE courses or the passing of the VTNE before reissuing a license.

Step 7: Consider Going to Veterinary School

Some Vet Technicians choose to advance their careers by going back to school to become Veterinarians. After becoming a Vet Technician, the path to becoming a Veterinarian is much shorter.

Veterinarians need to obtain a Doctoral Degree in Veterinary Medicine. Most Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programs last four years and require at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Science.

What degree do most Veterinary Technologists and Technicians have

Associate’s degree

We did a survey to ask other Veterinary Technologists and Technicians what degree they had when they first became one. Here are the results.

Associate’s degree

High School Diploma

Post-secondary certificate

How long does it take

2 to 4 years

The path to becoming a Vet Technician may take two to four years, depending on whether you earn an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree. After earning a degree, Vet Technicians can pass an exam to become certified and start looking for work.

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