Imagine yourself going into the doctor’s office for a simple blood test. As your nurse prepares the syringe to draw your blood, you ask where she got her nursing certificate. Laughing, she replies, “I don’t need a certificate. I’ve been doing this for years!”
For some people, medical experience is enough. But when it comes to the health of you or your pets, nothing beats knowing that your nurse has been given the highest level of education and training available. That’s why it is vital to complete a program that results in vet tech certification. Although it is possible to get the same amount of education through a lifetime of experiences, it is safer and more reliable to be trained to meet and exceed the national standard for veterinary technology practices.
Veterinary technician certification usually requires a combination of education, experience and evaluation. Students should enroll in programs that have been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These 2-4 year programs ensure that students receive the best didactic and hands-on training available for vet techs. Then, students should pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). Once they have completed these two steps, they can apply for certification as a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT)in any U.S. state.
Vet Tech Certification Requirements
The first step to certification is through the education process. Students who wish to be certified as an RVT must attend a program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). A professional veterinary technician or veterinarian who has graduated from an AVMA-approved program must teach the courses in order for the program to be eligible. These programs have high standards of theoretical and physiological education as well as extensive hands-on training. By the time a student in an AVMA-approved school is finished with his degree, he will have completed courses in 23 areas of expertise in addition to over 260 hours of clinical externship.
Because the externship is so vital to certification, online vet tech programs require a student to already be employed in a veterinary clinic. Although there are usually no prerequisites for the amount of time employed before the degree is started, a student must work 10-20 hours a week in an approved facility to complete the clinical element of certification.
The second element of certification is the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This 150-question test assesses key areas of responsibility, procedures and vital knowledge for completing vet tech tasks. A passing score of 75% is one of the key requirements for certification in most states.
In addition to the national examination, most states require a state-specific exam. For example, in South Carolina, vet techs must pass the VTNE in addition to the Veterinary Medical Practice Rules and Regulations exam given by the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. These state exams cover the individual legal veterinary medical procedures and are necessary to provide the most accurate veterinary care.
Value of Veterinary Technician Certification & Specializations
Without a certification, veterinary technicians in most states are not legally allowed to perform their duties. Although experience with animals is necessary, experience alone won’t usually qualify a person to be a professional veterinary technician without the explicit training and clinical experiences in a veterinary technology program at an AVMA-approved school.
Still, there are 12 states that do not require licensure. Among these 12 states, only Minnesota, Alaska and Hawaii have no alternate certification options. With the alternative solutions to certification and the national certification through AVMA, it is clear that the veterinary technology profession is moving towards nation-wide certification standards. Because of this, it is wise to get certified, even if you live in one of these few states that do not require it. Not only is it a good idea to prepare for the prepare for the future, but certification still remains an attractive trait in states where it is not necessary to be a vet tech.
In addition to national and state certifications, there are also specialization certifications that you can pursue. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has created a Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties (CVTS). The CVTS evaluates and accredits specialization programs to provide additional certification for veterinary technicians. These specialties can lead to increased pay and better job opportunities. Some of the most high-paying specializations include veterinary dentistry, veterinarian technician anesthetists and veterinary surgical technicians.
Veterinary Technician Licensing Boards
Certification and licensing are two very different topics. While certifications are given by individual organizations, state-level governmental associations usually confer licenses.
For veterinary technicians, certificates are given by a number of organizations. Upon completion from AVMA-approved school, students receive a certificate from the college itself. After taking the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), the AVMA sends a certificate to show that test has been passed. Vet techs who pursue a specialty receive a certificate through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
Licensure is done on a state-by-state basis. Each state has different requirements for receiving a license, and some don’t require a license at all. Once the VTNE is completed in addition to a state-level exam, students attain the Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) designation.