How Can I Become a Registered Veterinary Technician? Schools, Cost, Salaries

Has your pet ever been so ill you felt you could provide some form of instant care before taking it to the Veterinary Doctor? If you’ve been moved by such emotion to take care of animals and pets, then you should consider becoming a registered veterinary technician. Learn about the schools, degrees, and exams to write to become a vet tech as well as the kinds of jobs available to you as a registered vet tech.

Registered Veterinary Technicians are the nurses of animal medicine. They work under the supervision of a veterinarian, just like the nurse, and assist in a variety of animal care tasks like assisting in diagnosis, taking patient records and case histories, collecting specimens, e.t.c.

This doesn’t make them any less important in their work environment, however. In fact, they are becoming increasingly in demand in private practice and the new opportunities in zoos, military, laboratories, and wildlife conservatories.

Therefore, in this post, we will help you better understand who a veterinary technician is and their job description. We will also show you how they differ from the veterinary assistant. Afterward, we will explain the steps to becoming a registered veterinary technician. Stay with us.

Who is a Veterinary Technician?

Veterinary technicians are medical professionals who have acquired the education and training required to handle animals. They care for animals in veterinary clinics and other work environments by examining them (animals), collecting specimens, and performing certain other tasks that assist the veterinarian. Also, the veterinary technician assists licensed veterinarians. They don’t work in isolation.

But before they can even assist the licensed veterinarian, they too need to become licensed. Hence, a registered veterinarian is a state-credentialed animal healthcare professional, who performs clinical and laboratory roles for and under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

What is the Veterinary Technician Job Description?

One word repeats itself when we mention veterinary technicians. That word is “assist.” So, basically, while the veterinary technician takes care of animals in veterinary clinics and other work environments, they cannot diagnose, prescribe, or perform surgery on these animals. This is because their line of duty strictly prohibits these – if not, they would be no different from licensed veterinarians.

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Generally, the veterinary technician obtains and records patient history, prepare animals for surgery, collects specimens and assist in laboratory research. These are the veterinarian’s core job roles. However, they will perform certain other roles no listed here based on their specialization.

But irrespective of specialization, the registered veterinary technician’s job description includes:

  • Watching animals for physical and behavioral changes and noting them down
  • Taking and developing x-rays
  • Recording patients case histories
  • Administering medications to the animals
  • Collecting laboratory samples and performing lab tests
  • Providing nursing care to animals

What is the Difference Between a Veterinary Technician Job and a Veterinary Assistant?

It is so easy to confuse the veterinary technician with the veterinary assistant. While they both assist the veterinarian, two things distinct these two animal healthcare professionals. These are their educational requirements and their specific job role.

Before we commence on how different these two professionals are, there is a further distinction between veterinary technicians and veterinary technologists. So many people use these two interchangeably and it is rightly justified as they almost perform the same job roles. However, the major striking difference is that the veterinarian technologists acquire a four-year baccalaureate training while a veterinarian technician acquires a two-year community college or college training.

Moving on, while the veterinarian technician or technologist requires at least a two-year degree from studying an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited the program, all the education that a veterinarian assistant needs is either a high school diploma, certificate program, or distant learning distant education program.

The veterinarian assistant may also get on-the-job training from veterinarians or veterinary technicians to better suit them for the job. Furthermore, the veterinarian assistant does not require credentialing unlike the veterinarian technician or technologist.

Now, on their job description, the veterinary technician works as the veterinarian’s nurse while the veterinary assistant assists both the veterinarian and veterinary technician as well as perform basic duties like restraining and handling of animals and feed them. 

Where Does a Veterinary Technician Work?

Of course, when you hear veterinary, you think of an animal clinic. That’s where you would take your sick pet to and the place you’ll expect those taking care of animals to be found. You are right to say the veterinary technician works in private clinics and animal hospitals.

Yet, the registered veterinary technician’s job is not restricted to just this environment. The registered veterinary technician will also find work at laboratories, colleges and universities, and social advocacy organizations.

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So, while you’re thinking of becoming a registered vet tech, see yourself as a bird free to perch on any tree in terms of job employment.

How to become a registered veterinary technician

To become a registered veterinary technician, you have to;

  • Have a High School Diploma or its Equivalent
  • Complete an Accredited Degree Program
  • Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)
  • Go for State Credentialing
  • Renew State Credential and Advance in the Field

#1. Have a High School Diploma or its Equivalent

The first step for almost any job available in the USA and in other countries of the world is to complete high school, secondary school, or have a GED to stand as a high school diploma. Your high school education should build you with a strong background in biology, physiology (if your high school offers it), and chemistry. It would be a plus for you if you do hands-on lab work while in high school as well as volunteer to work in animal clinics and other facilities that care for animals.

#2. Complete an Accredited Degree Program

If you stop at just getting a high school diploma, you will only be fit to become a vet assistant and not the vet tech you dream to become. To progress as a registered veterinary technician you need to attend one of the best veterinary technician schools and obtain adegree.

A two-year associate’s degree in veterinary technology or animal science is the minimum education requirement. But you can choose to get a bachelor’s instead, However, whether an associate’s or a bachelor’s, your vet tech program must have accreditation by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), a branch of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).  Check out registered veterinary technician schools you can attend to get a degree and start your career here.

#3. Pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE)

After your degree, you need to gain licensure to practice as a registered vet tech in the USA and to do this, you must pass the VTNE. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) offers the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) and it costs $320. The test lasts for three months and it will test you on nine academic areas namely:

  • Pharmacy & pharmacology;
  • Surgical nursing;
  • Dentistry;
  • Laboratory procedures;
  • Animal care and nursing;
  • Diagnostic imaging;
  • Anesthesia;
  • Emergency medicine; and
  • Pain management.

#4. Go for State Credentialing

Getting licensed to practice is the next thing after passing the VTNE test. Meanwhile, the requirements to gain state registration depends largely on the state you hope to practice.

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But generally, to get a state license to practice, you’ll need to send official transcripts from a CVTEA-accredited program; submit VTNE scores; and pay an application fee. States like Washington will further require you to take a licensing exam, while certain other states will ask you to provide proof of American citizenship.

Now, depending on the state, you can become a registered veterinary technician (RVT), a certified veterinary technician (CVT), or a licensed veterinary technician (LVT) after gaining your credentials. They all mean the same thing.

#5. Renew State Credential and Advance in the Field

It is not enough to gain your vet tech credential and practice. The credential is not valid for life. You will have to keep renewing your state license by continuing education. This you can do by qualified conferences, publications, presentations, online coursework, and other methods. The types of approved CE vary by region.

Veterinary Technician Schools

The best veterinary technician schools are;

  • Purdue University
  • University of New Hampshire
  • SUNY College of Technology at Delhi
  • Johnson College Scranton, PA
  • Northwestern State University of Louisiana
  • Vermont Technical College
  • Ogeechee Technical College
  • Northeast Community College
  • SUNY College of Technology at Canton

See Also: 10 Best Veterinary Colleges in New York | Rankings

Vet Tech Salary

Veterinary technician jobs are highly lucrative and profitable. Depending on where you live, vet techs can make up to $30,000 – $42,000 a year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Veterinary technologists and technicians earn an average salary of $34,420 per year or $16.55 per hour. This is a fair enough salary as the veterinary technician gets credentialed to work after completing a two-year associate’s degree.

BLS further categorizes the salary of veterinarian technologists based on the industry they work This will further help you decide where you would like to find employment as a registered veterinary technician.

According to BLS, the top 5 industries ( or work environment) that pay registered veterinary technicians the highest are:

  • Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation): $53,780
  • Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions: $46,100
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $44,460
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools: $42,460
  • Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OES Designation): $42,370

You should also know that some states in the USA pay registered veterinary technicians more than other states. So, you could earn higher than the estimated salary average for vet techs in these five states:

  • Nevada: $46,370
  • Connecticut: $43,340
  • New York: $43,190
  • California: $41,920
  • Massachusetts: $40,990

Job Outlook of Registered Veterinary Technicians?

Now, as a veterinary technician, there is job security for you. The 2025 job outlook for vet techs according to BLS is 19%. The job grows much faster than the average job and this is visible in the projection of additional 21,100 jobs for registered veterinary technicians to top up the 109,400 jobs that vet techs occupied in 2025.


Becoming a Vet Technician is noble profession to consider especially if you love animals. By follwing our expert guide, you will begin your career journey on a good note.



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