Career Advancement in Veterinary Technology – What’s Next?


“As long as you’re motivated and as long as you can plan out your next steps, all the opportunities are open to you. Even if you have been in general practice for ten years and decide to switch gears and go in a different direction, you absolutely can. It’s never too late, but it’s never too early to start planning either,”

Megan Kelly, RVT, Department Chair for the Veterinary Medical Technology Program, Central Carolina Community College

Veterinary technicians are the backbone of any veterinary practice, bringing essential skills and expertise to the table. They play a pivotal role in the day-to-day operations, from assisting with surgeries and conducting laboratory tests to providing nursing care and managing patient records. Their work directly impacts animal health and wellness, ensuring that pets receive the highest level of care.

Registered veterinary technicians (RVT) have, at a minimum, an associate’s degree in veterinary technology and demonstrated proficiency by passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). “I think that the vet tech is so critical because of how much we can do in a hospital setting,” shares Megan Kelly, RVT and department chair for the veterinary medical technology program at Central Carolina Community College. “The variety of skills that technicians have is so different from any other medical field. We are the dental hygienists, radiography technicians, anesthetists, and more.”

Entry-level positions in veterinary technology are often in general practice clinics and offer invaluable practical experience. At first, vet techs will often perform routine tasks under the supervision of more experienced professionals. These roles are critical for gaining hands-on experience with various aspects of animal care, including basic medical procedures, patient observation, and maintaining cleanliness within the facility.

Yet, ambitious veterinary technicians seeking professional growth must consider the next steps in their career path. Advancing beyond entry-level positions opens up opportunities for specialization, leadership roles, and higher compensation. “As long as you’re motivated and as long as you can plan out your next steps, all the opportunities are open to you. Even if you have been in general practice for ten years and decide to switch gears and go in a different direction, you absolutely can. It’s never too late, but it’s never too early to start planning either,” encouraged Kelly.

As veterinary technology continues to advance and evolve, so do the career growth and development opportunities for vet techs. Continue reading to learn about those opportunities.

Meet The Expert: Megan Kelly, RVT

Megan Kelly

Megan Kelly is a registered veterinary technician and the department chair for the veterinary medical technology program at Central Carolina Community College. She has worked at CCCC for over ten years and has held every position in her department, including animal facilities manager, kennel assistant, and instructor.

Kelly holds a bachelor of applied science in veterinary/animal health technology/technician and veterinary assistant from St. Petersburg College and an associate of science in veterinary medical technology from Central Carolina Community College.

Traits Necessary To Advance A Veterinary Technology Career

It takes a certain kind of person to advance a career in veterinary technology. In addition to strong academics, good people skills, and adaptability, there is one key trait that Kelly believes will ensure a vet tech will advance their career: “The biggest thing is drive and motivation. Some students will have these lofty goals, but they don’t necessarily know how to get there. The students who are diligent about planning and staying dedicated to that plan are the ones that usually achieve their goals,” she says. “It takes a lot of dedication, and it can be very hard. Anything you want to achieve is going to be extra work. You don’t have to be a perfect student to achieve some of these career advancements, as long as you have the drive to do so.”

Advancement Opportunities

There are many different paths vet tech can choose to pursue. “As a technician, even at an associate’s degree level, there are many opportunities you can get into pretty quickly,” says Kelly. Here are some of the ways vet tech can advance their careers.


Working in a specialty can give a vet tech a unique skill set to help set them apart. To demonstrate competency in this area, vet techs can earn a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) credential in several fields, including dentistry, emergency medicine, anesthesia, zoology, nutrition, and more.

And vet techs can earn this certification even while working at a regular vet clinic. “I know quite a few folks that didn’t leave general practice but have worked on their VTS,” says Kelly. “Get more education and get more training in the areas that you are really passionate about. This path is perfect for those who are passionate about a particular aspect of veterinary care and wish to deeply immerse themselves in that specialty to make a significant impact in the lives of animals and their owners.


Internships are another great option for vet techs who wish to get hands-on experience in a specific area of veterinary medicine. These opportunities can range from a few days to several months, allowing the intern to work closely with experienced professionals in their chosen field. This is an excellent way to gain practical skills, network with industry experts, and potentially secure future job opportunities. “Doing an internship really can open doors for people,” says Kelly. For example, Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency offers a competitive one-year internship where graduates can gain invaluable experience from an organization dedicated to helping them further their careers.

Complete a Bachelor’s Degree

Continuing education beyond an associate’s degree opens additional opportunities for veterinary technicians aiming for more expansive roles within the field. A bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology is a great next step after an associate’s degree.

“I’ve seen many students get a four-year degree in veterinary medical technology after finishing our program. A few schools will work with our students on counting the first two years of their experience towards their bachelor’s degree,” says Kelly. “Many of these degrees are online programs they can complete while still working.”

Move Into Leadership

Becoming a leader within the veterinary field is another possible career path for vet techs. This could involve taking on more managerial responsibilities within a veterinary clinic or hospital, such as managing staff, overseeing operations, and making important decisions related to patient care. “Maybe you want to be head technician, or maybe they want to be practice manager. Earning a bachelor’s degree can help with that goal, but there is also the pathway of earning a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) credential,” says Kelly. “If you really want to learn how to run a hospital, the CVPM can help you get there.”

To be eligible for the CVPM, candidates must have active employment as a practice manager for at least three out of the last seven years, have 18 college semester-hours in management-related courses, have 48 hours of continuing education courses specifically devoted to management, and have four letters of recommendation. Once eligibility has been determined, candidates will sit for a 200-question exam covering human resources, law and ethics, marketing, organization of the practice, and finance.

Become a Veterinarian

While transitioning from a veterinary technician to a veterinarian is not the traditional route, it represents a significant yet achievable career advancement for those deeply committed to veterinary medicine: “We usually get between two and five students per cohort that are interested in it, and then of those, usually, one or two of them will eventually end up in vet school,” explains Kelly.

To become a veterinarian, vet techs must apply to veterinary school and eventually earn their doctor of veterinary medicine degree. Vet schools often have rigorous prerequisite coursework requirements, so vet techs pursuing this route must take additional classes to have the qualifications to apply.

Look Outside Traditional Jobs

There is much more to veterinary medicine than just working at a clinic. While it can be easy to get nearsighted about job opportunities, Kelly notes that there are many other places vet techs can seek employment that will give them career advancement opportunities. “Techs often get hired by pharmaceutical companies to work as part of their animal care team if they have animals they are using in research,” she shares. They also get hired on the pharmaceutical sales side of things because they know how the drugs work and how they are used.”

She continues, “On the academic side, there is a pathway for veterinary technicians with an associate’s degree to be able to go and teach at a vet tech school if they’re passionate about it.” Other options in academia include working in an animal research lab, either caring for the animals or assisting with experiments. “We’ve had graduates go into law enforcement because they are trained to handle animals and understand animal behavior, so they work as canine officers. Sometimes, museums will hire vet techs if they have animals on site or if they have animal-related education opportunities. Vet techs make great public educators because they are trained to educate clients on caring for their pets.”

Kimmy Gustafson (Writer)

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor's offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.