Veterinary technicians are the nurses of the animal world. They are responsible for assisting veterinarians with a number of tasks and are primarily responsible for the basic health and well-being of their animal patients. The requirements to become a veterinary technician vary by geographic region. You should consult your region's veterinary medical board for the exact requirements in your locale. In almost every instance, becoming a vet tech requires you to attend a veterinary technician training program.
Obtaining a vet tech degree is the first step in becoming a registered vet tech. Degree programs are accredited through national associations. In the U.S., the accrediting body is the American Veterinary Medical Association. Canada has the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, and in the U.K. the field is governed by the British Veterinary Association. Veterinary technician classes cover a comprehensive curriculum on animal care and nursing, surgical assisting, anesthesia, radiology, pathology and parasitology. A good vet tech program trains the student to assist a veterinarian with daily duties.
There are both two- and four-year vet tech programs. The amount of time spent on vet tech classes determines whether the student, upon graduating, is considered a veterinary technician or a veterinary technologist. Veterinary technologists are vet techs who have earned four-year degrees and require less direct supervision from a veterinarian to perform their duties. Both veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists are referred to as vet techs.
Veterinary technician assistant positions also exist. These are people who have not completed the requirements to become a registered vet technician and work directly under the supervision of a registered vet tech. Many students on the path to becoming registered vet techs work as vet tech assistants in order to gain the hands-on clinical experience required by accredited programs. In addition to veterinary medical duties, a vet technician assistant usually performs mundane tasks around a veterinary practice such as cleaning kennels, answering phones and categorizing medical records.
After completing a comprehensive educational program, a person wishing to become a registered vet tech must complete an examination surveying their knowledge of animal healthcare. These exams may be regional or national — again, requirements vary by location. Some areas require a fee and registration on an official list of technicians working in the region. After completing and passing the exam, the student is then credentialed to work in their area as a registered vet tech.