Veterinary technicians often are thought of as the nurses of the veterinary world. They are educated professionals with college degrees, and they often must be certified to practice in the veterinary field. To become a certified veterinary technician typically requires testing and licensing. In the United States, most states require certification. If you live in the U.S., depending on the state in which you live, you officially will be called either a certified veterinary technician (CVT), registered veterinary technician (RVT) or licensed veterinary technician (LVT) after you have completed the certification process.
Before being eligible to apply to become a certified veterinary technician, you usually will need to earn either a two-year or four-year college degree in animal science, veterinary technology or a related field from a college, university or technical school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. If you opt for a two-year degree, you are considered a veterinary technician. People achieving four-year degrees technically are called veterinary technologists but are commonly referred to as technicians. Accredited degree programs for veterinary technicians include classroom work and internships or other on-the-job training.
When you apply for the certification examination, you normally will have to show proof of your education to the local Board of Veterinary Examiners or another designated government agency. Various combinations of education and work experience can be required to apply for testing and certification, depending on where you live. Some areas allow applicants to test without a college background, but the number of places where this is allowed has decreased. You typically will have to pay a fee to test as well.
Testing usually involves written, oral and practical sections. The Veterinary Technician National Exam is the test used in most of the U.S., so scores can often be transferred if applying for credentialing in a different state than where the exam was taken. Practice tests and information about the exam are available at various veterinary websites, including that of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
It is important to begin as early as possible to prepare to become a certified veterinary technician. If your high school offers college prep courses in science and math, be sure to take them. Taking biology, zoology, physics, algebra and other courses and performing well in those subjects will help you be accepted into a veterinary technician program. Getting good grades in language arts courses also is important to improve your oral and written communication skills, which are important for certified veterinary technicians.