How to Become a Certified Vet Tech

By Contributing Writer

  • Overview

    Veterinary technicians, or vet techs, are an integral part of any veterinary practice. They work under a licensed veterinarian and assist in the care and treatment of animals. Becoming a certified vet tech, however, is not something that happens overnight. You must fulfill a number of educational requirements before you can begin a career helping animals.
    How to Become a Certified Vet Tech
    • Step 1

      Find a veterinary technician program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). All certified vet techs are required to complete an accredited program before they begin working in a veterinarian's office or animal hospital. A list of approved programs is included below under "Resources."
    • Step 2

      Decide if you would prefer to complete your education in two or four years, and whether you want to take your courses in a classroom or online. Most programs are two years and result in an associate's degree, although there are four-year programs for a bachelor's degree as well. Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree are known as vet technologists and typically earn higher salaries. Keep that in mind when evaluating programs.

    • Step 3

      Apply for an accredited program. The application process varies at each college, but the process typically involves an application form with personal information, high school transcripts, personal essays and letters of recommendation. Be sure to meet all the application deadlines and proofread your final application before submitting it.
    • Step 4

      Complete an externship before graduation. All accredited programs include an externship, which involves hands-on training in a veterinarian's office and experience working with animals. Typically, the advisor at your program or college will assist you in setting up your externship.
    • Step 5

      After graduation, complete a credentialing exam given by the state board. While the exam can vary from state to state, most use the National Veterinary Technician exam. The test includes written and oral portions, in addition to practice situations in a mock veterinary clinic.
    • Step 6

      Obtain your certification. After passing the credentialing exam, you will be certified to work as a veterinary technician. In some states you will be known as a "certified vet technician," while in other states you may be referred to as "licensed" or "registered." The terms all mean the same. You will receive your certification from the state board after your test is approved.
    • Step 7

      The final step is to start looking for your dream job as a vet tech. While it may take some time to complete the educational and testing requirements, pursuing a career as a veterinary technician can be very rewarding. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that employment opportunities for vet techs will grow faster than many other fields, so the job prospects look very promising.
    • Skill: Moderately Challenging
    • Ingredients:
    • Veterinary technician program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
    • Externship
    • Warning:
    • Since laws and regulations vary by state, always check with your state Veterinary Medical Board to confirm requirements or licensing regulations. A list of Veterinary Medical Boards is included in the "Resources" section.
    • Beware of courses you may see advertised on television or online claiming to help you become a vet assistant. A veterinary assistant is NOT the same as a vet technician. Only graduates of AVMA-accredited programs are allowed to take the credentialing exam. Confirm that your program or college is accredited.

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