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How to Become a Veterinary Technician?

how to become a veterinary technician

Are you looking for a career where you get to spend time with animals?

If you have medical knowledge, working as a veterinary technician could be perfect for you. This entry-level role allows you to gain skills and experience and offers advancement opportunities.

However, it still takes time and dedication to earn the necessary qualifications and skills for this job. Also, this job is not for everyone, especially those who are squeamish.

So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a veterinary technician and what this fascinating job involves.

how to become a veterinary technician

Typical Duties And Responsibilities

This role mainly involves supporting veterinarians while providing care for animals. Depending on where you work, a wide range of tasks can be associated with this role. Here are some of the main duties and responsibilities you are likely to be charged with on a regular basis.

Obtaining case histories

Like their human companions, animals can have long and complex medical histories that affect their current condition. You need to find out about the diet, exercise routine, and home environment of animals that visit the clinic. If not already documented, you need to discover their history of previous complaints, surgeries, and any medications taken.

Read more: How to Become a Minister?

Collecting laboratory specimens

You need to collect blood, stool, and urine samples from different animals in the correct way. You will then use these samples to conduct simple laboratory tests. This will help the veterinarian to diagnose bacterial infections, viruses, and other types of diseases.

Preparing animals for surgery

After sterilizing, you will shave animals, give them sedatives, and perform other necessary procedures. You will also assist veterinarians during surgery and gain hands-on experience.

Educating animal owners

Once animals have been diagnosed, you need to explain the treatment process to their companions. This includes details of how to administer medicine and special diets they need to follow. You will also need to answer questions about general animal care and provide useful information.

Assisting in veterinary exams

This largely involves helping to keep animals still and calm. You will also hand the vet instruments when needed and keep records of the animal’s vital signs.

Key Skills And Attributes

Having a genuine love for animals is a must if you want to pursue this career. There is also a range of hard and soft skills you need to develop to do the job well. Here are the main skills and attributes a successful veterinary technician should possess.

Attention to detail

It is essential to pay close attention to each detail when you are working with animals. Because animals cannot tell you how they are feeling, you have to be able to recognize nonverbal signs. This helps you to assist the veterinarian in the best way and ensure quality care.


When animals are sick and scared, it can be difficult to work with them. You need to be patient and remain calm at all times. This will help the animals to calm down and be more cooperative.

Communication skills you need to be able to explain complex information in a clear and simple way. This includes explaining how to give animals their medication and the correct dosage. You also need to listen carefully to carers when they bring animals into the clinic.


You need to take clear and detailed notes of each animal when they visit the clinic. Maintain records and make sure the records are up to date. This helps veterinarians get a clear picture of the animal’s treatment history.


You will spend several hours at a time standing, lifting animals, and walking. You need to be reasonably physically fit and willing to work long hours, especially during complicated surgeries.


It is essential to have compassion for animals, especially when they are not cooperating. You must be able to put their needs first at all times.

Getting The Right Skills And Knowledge

You need a combination of education, training, certification, and licensure to do this job. There are several options in each of these categories, and it is important to consider your options carefully. Here is an overview of the types of skills and knowledge you need to have.


You need to complete a two-year degree before you can start work. The best option is an associate degree in veterinary technology. This special course will teach you the foundations of animal pharmacology, clinical practices, veterinary hospital, animal diseases, and animal behavior. At the end of the course, you will then take a licensing exam.


You need to complete practical training in an animal hospital or clinic. Most associate degrees will provide you with the connection so that you can get the necessary practice. It is also a good idea to gain further experience by working as an intern for at least a few months.


Once you have completed your education and training, you need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination. This exam assesses your entry-level skills and knowledge of pharmacy and pharmacology, animal care and nursing, and other associated areas. The exam is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions.


The last step is meeting the licensure requirements for the state you plan to work in. You will usually need to show your associate degree certification, proof of citizenship, letters of recommendation, and other specified documents. You will then be granted a license of registration and will be ready to start work.

How To Become A Veterinary Technician?

Before you can start work, you need to gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience. While you are in high school, you need to get strong grades in biology, mathematics, English, and other science-based subjects. Here is an overview of the steps you should take after you graduate from high school.

Complete an associate degree in veterinary technology

Make sure you choose an associate degree that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It is best to check with your state board to find out which degrees they recommend. This will increase your chances of completing the licensure requirements in your state.

how to become veterinary technician guide

Pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam

This exam is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards in most parts of the United States. Once you pass this test, you will become a Certified Veterinary Technician. It costs $330 to sit this exam, and it takes three hours to complete.

Become a member of the NAVTA

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians is the leading association for professional veterinary technicians. Becoming a member of this group gives you access to a range of useful information. The NAVTA also runs a number of networking events and conferences throughout the year.

Find a job in a veterinary clinic

This role usually takes place in a veterinary office, and veterinary technicians are usually in demand. Completing an internship can help you secure full-time work once you receive your license. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians can also help you find a placement.

Maintain your certification

It is important to note that you have to renew your certification every two years. In some cases, you may need to complete a few additional hours of training. If you already work as a veterinary technician, a reference from the vet you would with should be sufficient.


Choosing an area of specialization can help you stand out from the crowd and makes it easier to secure work. When choosing a specialization, it is important to consider your interests and the local job opportunities. Most specializations require additional training in a specific area before licensing is granted. Here is an overview of the most popular specializations and what they involve.

Critical Care

This specialization is perfect for people who can work well under pressure and have strong critical thinking skills. You will work closely as part of a team to help provide emergency care when necessary. It is essential to be able to work quickly and accurately to help save the lives of animals at risk.

Key duties include

  • Accurately monitoring vital signs.
  • Performing invasive procedures like drawing blood.
  • Assisting with diagnoses and treatments.
  • Taking specimens and radiographs.
  • Administering general anesthesia.
  • Intravenously replacing lost fluids.


This is a very competitive field that allows you to work in an aquarium or zoological park. You will be responsible for providing care to exotic animals in a zoo hospital if you choose this role. These special hospitals quarantine animals, treat cross-species diseases, and provide general healthcare.

Some duties include

  • Lab work.
  • Surgical assistance.
  • Medical record keeping.
  • Immobilization of small and large animals.
  • Assisting veterinarians with clinical cases.

Veterinary Dental Technician

As the name suggests, this specialization focuses on the dental hygiene of different types of animals. The Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians oversees the credentials process for this field. The organization also provides you with a wealth of useful information, including help with job placement.

You need to have at least six thousand hours of experience as a veterinary technician to qualify for this specialization. This includes at least a thousand hours of dental assisting practice. You will need to find a mentor in the field who can help you complete the special training and other requirements.

Dermatology Veterinary Technician

This specialization focuses on diagnosing and treating animal skin conditions. The Academy of Dermatology Veterinary Technicians offers a special credentialing exam that you will need to pass. Before you can take the exam, you will have to prove you have the specified work experience and education. Once you pass the exam, you will be granted certification, which has to be renewed every three years.

how to become the veterinary technician

Equine Veterinary Technician

If you are passionate about horses, this could be the perfect specialization for you. This role involves providing surgical assistance, administering vaccination, assisting with midwifery, and tooth floating. It is necessary to apply to the Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians to become licensed to practice this specialization.

Internal Medicine Veterinary Technician

This specialization is focused on different types of non-surgical diseases and conditions in animals. To gain the credentials for this specialization, you need to apply to the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians.

You will need to provide the specified documents, including a state veterinary technician license, complete a skills form, and show certification.

Pass the exam…

It is also necessary to provide four detailed case reports and present two letters of recommendation. If you have the necessary paperwork, you will need to complete three exam questions electronically. You will then be ready to pass an exam that covers large animal medicine, small animal medicine, oncology, cardiology, and neurology.

Veterinary Surgical Technician

You need to have at least ten thousand hours of experience as a veterinary technician before considering this specialization. The Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians also requires a wide range of documents to prove you are skilled and qualified. Once you meet the requirements, you will then need to sit and pass a special exam.

Let’s Help You Pass Those Exams!

What an amazing career choice helping animals! So, let’s get you certified ASAP using the VTNE Flashcard Study System: VTNE Test Practice Questions & Review, and the VTNE Secrets Study Guide – Exam Review and VTNE Practice Test, as well as how to Master the Veterinary Technician National Exam guide to get you on your way!

Furthermore, we also recommend the Workbook for McCurnin’s Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians, and the Mosby’s Comprehensive Review for Veterinary Technicians, or maybe The Merck Veterinary Manual, along with the Veterinary Anatomy Flash Cards, and the Review Questions and Answers for Veterinary Technicians all available online in 2023.

We also have some interesting reads for you, such as the Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician and the crucial Emergency Procedures for the Small Animal Veterinarian, or perhaps you’re wondering How to Become a Veterinarian: What They Do, How To Train, Daily Life As Vet, Is It Really The Right Career For You? just to be sure before moving forward.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who loves animals and has plenty of compassion is likely to thrive as a veterinary technician.

While it takes time and dedication to become qualified, this can be a very rewarding career. The average salary for people who choose this role is $37,000 per year. However, choosing a specialization can easily boost your salary to at least $50,000 per year.

Once you gain skill and experience, you can choose to take your career to the next level. If you have a head for business, you could train to become a veterinarian and open your own clinic.

All the very best in your future career as a Veterinary Technician!

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