How To Specialize In Small Animals As A Vet Tech
The American people place a very high value on their pets. In many cases, these beloved companions are seen in the same light as human family members and deserving of the same level of care.
For this reason, whether it is for a family dog or a riding horse, the level of veterinary care American’s demand for their pets is very high. Because of this, there are robust and growing career opportunities for veterinarians and veterinary technicians alike.
In addition to working as general vet techs, many vet techs choose to become specialists in one or more fields. A common choice is to specialize in the treatment of small animals. This enables the vet tech to provide a high level of care to those small animals that he or she is caring for.
Professionally, becoming a specialist vet tech can present the following advantages:
- The vet tech can command a higher salary.
- Many veterinary practices will hire a vet tech specializing in small animals in preference to other vet techs.
- The vet tech will have greater access to various types of personal and professional resources.
Becoming a Vet Tech Specializing in Small Animal Care
There are a variety of ways to specialize as a small animal vet tech, with varying degrees of professional and personal requirements. However, the first step will be to obtain a state vet tech license, if the state currently requires practicing vet techs to be licensed.
For states that do not currently require licensure, the vet tech should consider obtaining certification from his or her state’s veterinary technician association, as certification is usually needed for those seeking to become certified specialists in small animal care.
Certification by a professional agency or licensure by the state usually requires the following steps:
- Complete a veterinary technician program at an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program.
- Take and pass the veterinary technician national examination (VTNE)
- Complete any other license or certification requirements, which may include background criminal checks or a jurisprudence examination.
Paths to Specialization as a Small Animal Vet Tech
For many new vet techs, the simplest path to becoming a small animal specialist is to focus on treating small animals. Many veterinary clinics that focus on small animals will hire newly licensed vet techs and provide them with valuable practical and academic experience in this field.
In addition, by focusing on small animal care as a part of the required continuing education every vet tech must complete in order to renew his or her certification or license, the vet tech can obtain valuable classroom instruction in small animal care.
Becoming Certified by The Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians (AIMVT) as an organization that can offer certification for vet techs demonstrating a high level of skill in their field. The AIMVT offers certification in internal medicine with a sub-specialty in small animal care. This certification is only available to skilled and experienced vet techs who can complete a rigorous course of instruction and verification.
In addition to at least three years or 3,000 hours of experience, the vet tech must be currently licensed or certified and in good standing. The vet tech must also be able to provide a number of case logs and at least four detailed case studies, demonstrating his or her skill in the field of internal medicine focusing on small animal care.
Finally, the vet tech must be able to pass a comprehensive examination, in addition to providing at least two letters of recommendation from a qualified veterinary professional who is in a position to evaluate the candidate’s qualifications for certification.
Other Certification Routes
While the AIMVT is the only body that currently offers a specialty specifically focused on small animal care, a number of other specialties exist that can be relevant to the care of small animals.
Emergency care, behavioral care and veterinary nutrition are all examples of specialties that can enhance a vet tech’s ability to work with and provide vital care to small animals.
In many cases, although these certification programs do not have a formal small animal specialty, the vet tech may be able to focus on those courses and programs that provide information about veterinary care for small animals.
The Importance of Maintaining General Certification
A vet tech must understand that professional certification in a veterinary specialty is not an acceptable replacement for licensure or certification as a vet tech. A vet tech should always ensure that his or her license or certification is in good standing with the state or professional agency that has issued it.
Ultimately, by choosing to focus on the care of small animals, a vet tech can dramatically improve his or her professional standing in the field of veterinary technology.
By obtaining professional certification, the vet tech can demonstrate a high degree of skill to his or her current and future employers. By doing so, the vet tech can obtain a higher-level of pay and greater degree of professional respect from other veterinary professionals and the general public alike.