Becoming a Registered Veterinary Technician in Canada
The Canadian veterinary care sector is currently enjoying robust and sustained growth as a growing number of Canadians demand high quality care for their beloved companion animals.
In addition, the Canadian farm, research and ranching sectors are seeing a growing need for qualified veterinary care professionals in order to ensure that their animals are cared for in a professional and humane fashion.
For this reason, the demand for licensed veterinary technicians is showing sustained and robust growth in Canada.
Veterinary Technicians in Canada: Employment and Salary Information
In 2013, there were over 2,600 currently employed veterinary technicians working in Canada.
The Canadian government has forecast significant future growth in this field, mainly due to the increasing demand for veterinary technicians to work in the research, domestic and industrial animal care fields.
In addition, nearly 80 percent of all currently employed veterinary technicians are full-time employees. Of the currently employed veterinary technicians, over 75 percent have received a post-secondary education, usually as a component of obtaining their license to practice as veterinary technicians.
Currently, approximately 70 percent of all Canadian veterinary technicians earn between $20,000 and $49,999.
When combined with the job benefits most vet techs enjoy, the average veterinary technician’s salary can support a comfortable lifestyle.
Furthermore, a veterinary technician’s salary is competitive with other fields demanding a similar educational and monetary investment.
Becoming a Vet Tech in Canada
In order to become a registered veterinary technician in Canada, the candidate must complete the following steps:
- Finish an accredited veterinary technology program.
- Complete any other registration requirements from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and their provincial regulatory agency. These requirements may include a criminal background check for the candidate.
Preparing for a Career as a Registered Vet Tech
Becoming a vet tech requires that the individual have a firm grasp of math and biology, in addition to being able to understand and carry out any instructions on the part of the veterinarian or other supervisor. For this reason, anyone interested in becoming a veterinary technician should focus on math and science courses in high school in order to prepare himself or herself for a career as a veterinary technician.
Being bilingual in French and English will dramatically improve a Canadian vet tech’s employability, especially if they intend to work in the Province of Quebec.
In addition to providing assistance to the vet tech’s ability to carry out his or her professional duties, being bilingual can also make it easier for the vet tech to effectively interact with his or her fellow veterinary care workers and members of the general public.
Vet techs commonly work with the owners of the animal under treatment. When an animal is injured or ill, the vet tech must be able to obtain the needed information while treating an often-distraught owner in a professional and caring manner.
In addition, when working in a veterinary clinic, the vet tech must be able to behave in a confident and professional manner during periods of high stress. Finally, during emergency situations, the vet tech must be able to quickly and accurately respond to requests on the part of the veterinarian and other veterinary professionals.
Veterinary Tech Programs
In order to enter a veterinary tech program, the student must have either graduated from high school or have obtained an equivalent degree. In addition, students must comply with any other entry requirements for new students on the part of the school.
A veterinary technician program normally takes approximately two years for a full-time student to complete. These programs cover the following areas:
• Basic principles of veterinary care.
• Emergency care for animals.
• The biology of various types of common animal breeds.
• Veterinary terminology and report writing techniques.
• Office record keeping and reporting techniques.
• The legal rights and responsibilities of a registered veterinary technician.
Many veterinary technician programs will include a clinical component where vet tech students practice their skills under working conditions. In this way, the student can gain valuable training and develop confidence in their abilities. Some schools also offer internships with local veterinary establishments, allowing qualified students to work as a paid intern while being trained by licensed veterinarians and vet techs.
In addition to a full-time schedule, many colleges offer part-time options for those students who are currently working or otherwise unable to attend on a regular schedule.
In most cases, part-time schedules involve taking classes in the evening or on the weekend, in order to allow the students to complete their program without having to abandon their current job. While these programs can take longer to complete than a full-time program, they allow working students to attend school without having to suffer financial hardship.
Finally, many schools currently offer online and distance-learning programs. These programs make use of the Internet to allow students to complete their training without having to physically attend the school. In addition to allowing the student to set his or her own schedule, this can be very useful for those students who live inconveniently far from the college.
However, some programs may demand that the student physically attend lab sessions or final examinations. Students planning on taking advantage of a distance-learning program should be certain to discuss their schedule with the school administration.
Attending an Accredited School
It is absolutely vital that a student only attend a veterinary technology program that has been accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). Accreditation verifies that the program conforms to the currently accepted educational standards for a veterinary technician program.
The CVMA and provincial regulatory bodies do not accept non-accredited veterinary technology programs. Equally importantly, most American states require graduation from an accredited program in order to offer licensure by endorsement or reciprocity.
Those states that do accept non-accredited programs must verify that they are substantially equal to an accredited program, which is a process that can take a great deal of time, further delaying the vet tech’s ability to obtain licensure.
The Veterinary Technician National Examination is the examination that is used by both Canadian and American licensing bodies for veterinary technicians. This comprehensive examination covers both the academic and practical aspects of working as a vet tech.
By passing the VTNE, a vet tech demonstrates that he or she can effectively and safely assist a veterinarian or other professional in treating pets and other animals. The VTNE is regularly updated in order to ensure that the test continues to reflect the current state of veterinary knowledge in order to provide an accurate gauge of the candidate’s veterinary skills.
It is extremely important that the veterinary technician pass the test as quickly as possible. The VTNE is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB), which have placed a limit of five attempts to pass the VTNE.
In addition, some state and provincial authorities have put their own limitations on how many times the candidate may attempt to retake the VTNE. While the AAVSB may allow a candidate to retake the test more than five times, such permission is at the option of the AAVSB.
Furthermore, some states and provinces may not permit individuals who have retaken the test to apply for licensure or registration as a vet tech, even if they ultimately passed the test. For this reason, a candidate should only take the VTNE when he or she is confident of success.
Other Advancement Options
Once registered as a professional veterinary technician, there is a wide range of other professional advancement options.
Many veterinary technicians decide to become certified specialists in one or more subfields in order to improve their employment options. Because of the growing importance of veterinary care, the number of recognized specialties is growing, and individuals interested in such a field should consult with their school or the NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America), which has developed guidelines on specialties for both the United States and Canada.
Ultimately, becoming a registered veterinary technician in Canada can be an excellent choice for those seeking an animal-centered career that provides excellent salary and professional opportunities.
Furthermore, as an individual who plays a vital role in keeping Canada’s beloved companion animals healthy and comfortable, a vet tech can expect to enjoy a great deal of public and professional respect. For these reasons, becoming a vet tech can be a personally and professionally rewarding career decision.