How to Become a Registered Veterinary Technician
The modern veterinary care sector is a rapidly growing and dynamic field. Many families see their pets in nearly the same light as their human family members and thus demand world-class care for them. This has led to the demand for more effective and cutting edge veterinary care.
In addition, humane societies, farms, and other state and private organizations also place a premium on the health and comfort of the animals they deal with, requiring on-site veterinary staff to ensure the best possible standard of care.
In this environment, the registered veterinary technician or RVT, is a profession that is showing dynamic growth. Whether for a the high-school student seeking to prepare him or herself for a future career, the new graduate, or a currently employed individual seeking are more rewarding job, the RVT provides a number of opportunities.
What is a Registered Veterinary Technician
A registered veterinary technician is an individual who has been certified as a professional assistant to a veterinarian. Much like a nurse, the rvt assists the veterinarian in providing high quality care to the animal under his or her care. In general, the duties of an RVT include the following:
- Taking samples of blood and other bodily materials, preparing them for testing and recording the test results for the veterinarian.
- The RVT will perform the initial physical on newly admitted animals, in order to establish a baseline for future examinations.\
- Providing supportive care to animals in his or her care, including administering drugs, monitoring their condition, and informing coworkers of the measures needed to maintain their health.
- In emergency cases, the RVT will administer first aid to injured or ill animals, stabilizing the animal’s condition prior to the veterinarian providing long-term care for them.
- Interacting and taking reports from those individuals who have brought their animals in to the veterinary practice. This requires the ability to effectively and clearly communicate with individuals who are often distraught over the condition of their pet.
Other Specialties for RVTs
In addition to the basic duties of the RVT, there are specialties that can be obtained with extra study. Surgical RVTs assist the veterinarian before, during and after surgery, while other specialties involve dealing with internal medicine, veterinary dentistry and exotic or large animals, to name a few examples.
In most cases, becoming certified as a specialist requires prior experience as an RVT and the completion of extra courses of study and certification testing. These specialties also provide higher rates of pay, depending on the demand for the particular veterinary technical specialty.
Becoming a RVT
Becoming an RVT has a number of varying requirements, depending on the state the individual is intending to practice in. This makes it important that the candidate should consult both with the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), and his or her state’s local licensing board.
In general, becoming a RVT demands a two or four year program in veterinary technology, followed by passing the Veterinary Technicians National Exam (VTNE). This test is a comprehensive examination for the candidate’s practical and academic qualifications for working as a registered veterinary technician.
State Veterinary Technical Exams
A number of states have their own exams that prospective RVTs must take, but these exams normally focus on the points of law specific to the state, rather than the veterinary knowledge that the VTNE tests. When preparing for a state exam, the candidate should obtain information about the nature and coverage of the test before taking it.
Other Routes to Becoming an RVT
Some states allow candidates to substitute their practical experience in the field for class work, especially for those who have been working in the field of veterinary technology for some time. Obtaining certification by this method usually requires that the candidate be able to document his or her experience in the veterinary field. In some states, the candidate must still take the VTNE, however.
In some states, it is possible to become a RVT without taking the courses or tests if the individual is a qualified and licensed RVT in another state. This depends on the nature of the state requirements for becoming an RVT and is not universal, so those RVTs considering moving to another state should check with their destination state’s licensing board.
Finding Employment in a Dynamic Field
Becoming an RVT allows an individual to find employment in a dynamic and growing career path. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that between now and 2020, employment for veterinary technicians will grow by about 52 percent. This is above average compared to other fields, and represents a long-term increase in career openings for qualified RVTs. Especially when considering openings that will be created by the retirement of current RVTs, the potential for finding a rewarding career as an RVT is quite high.
However, the registered veterinary technician is more than a simple career. By working to assist pets and their families at a stressful time in their life, the RVT provides a valuable service to the community and the veterinarian’s office alike. Whether it is a routine examination, or calming an injured pet and his owners alike, the registered veterinary technician will continue to be a career path that is in great demand.