What Is a Certified Animal Health Technician (CAHT)

Animal health technicians are medical professionals that help veterinarians diagnose and treat animals. There are postsecondary training programs available to prepare you for this occupation. Schools offering Veterinary Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Defined

Certified animal health technicians, also known as certified veterinary technicians, work under the supervision of a veterinary doctor. You'll provide clinical or laboratory procedures to animals or assist a veterinarian with these procedures. You'll administer medicine, take blood samples, provide vaccinations, and assist in surgery. Veterinary technicians are employed in animal hospitals, zoos, shelters, and research laboratories.

Your work as an animal health technician may be in radiology, anesthesia, or pre-and post-surgical care. You'll help educate pet owners on the care of animals recovering from an illness or operation. You manage case files and record data about animals size, height and weight, genealogy, and food intake.

Important Facts About Certified Animal Health Technicians (CAHTs)

On-the-Job Training None
Key Skills Clear communication, empathy, attention to detail, manual dexterity, problem solving ability
Work Environment Private clinics, laboratories, and animal hospitals
Similar Occupations Animal care and service workers, veterinarians, veterinary assistants, laboratory animal caretakers, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

Education Requirements

Becoming an animal health technician requires completing an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-approved associate or bachelor's degree program, but only an associate degree is commonly required. Program coursework is science-based and includes classes such as chemistry, biology and anatomy. You'll also discuss topics such as animal diseases, pathology, nutrition, pharmacology, and professional ethics.

Certification Overview

Most states require veterinary technicians to be registered, certified, or licensed. The basic requirements for certification include completing an AVMA-accredited postsecondary degree program in veterinary technology and passage of a national exam. The test most commonly recognized by state veterinary boards is the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

Additional Credentials or Certifications

As a veterinary technician, you'll have the opportunity to acquire an additional voluntary certification or designation in an animal medicine specialty through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. These specialties can include internal medicine, dental, behavior, and emergency and critical care veterinary technicians. The requirements for individual specialties vary, but you must be a practicing veterinary technician.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinary technicians are projected to see a 30% growth in job opportunities from 2012-2022, which is much faster than the average. The average wages for these workers in May 2014 were $32,350.

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