What Is a Registered Veterinary Technician?

A registered veterinary technician (RVT) is a state-credentialed animal healthcare professional, trained to perform clinical and laboratory procedures under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Read on to learn about the education requirements, credentialing and career outlook of RVTs to see if this career is right for you. Schools offering Veterinary Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Veterinary Technician Defined

Veterinary technicians assist licensed veterinarians with examinations, laboratory tests, medication administration, surgeries and other animal health treatment procedures. Licensing, registration and certification are nationally and state regulated, so it's important to check with the state in which you plan to work for education and credentialing requirements.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Work Environment Clinic, lab, shelter, animal hospital, zoo
On-the-job Training None
Similar Occupations Animal care worker, medical technologist, surgical technician
Median Salary (2014) $31,070

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

As a veterinary technician, your job duties may include:

  • Observing animals for physical and behavioral changes
  • Taking and developing x-rays
  • Recording case histories
  • Administering medications
  • Collecting laboratory samples and performing lab tests
  • Providing nursing care to animals

You could specialize in a particular area of veterinary medicine, such as emergency care, dental technology, anesthesia or zoological medicine.

Education Requirements

Entry-level positions often call for a minimum of an associate's degree from a veterinary technician program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Accredited veterinary technician training is available through over 190 programs across the U.S., including nine that are available online. Topics that you might study as part of your program include parasitology, veterinary anatomy and physiology, veterinary nursing, veterinary medical terminology and pharmacology. You'll also be trained in clinical topics such as anesthesia, surgical assistance and diagnostic imaging.

Licensing, Certification and Registration

After you've completed your degree program, you may begin the credentialing process as regulated by your state. Most states determine competency through the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) that's administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). Upon completion of the VTNE, you may follow one or more of these state-determined credentialing procedures for licensure, registration or certification:

  • Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) - Registration is a state-regulated process by which you can qualify to become a member of a group of government-recognized animal health practitioners.
  • Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) - Licensing is nationally and state regulated and is one way of being credentialed to practice as a veterinary technician.
  • Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) - Certification is a voluntary credential determined by state regulations and controlled by private, nonprofit professional organizations or independent boards.

Career Outlook

Animal care professions are continuing to grow, and as technologies become more comprehensive and sophisticated, the field of veterinary technology is expected to rapidly expand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the outlook for veterinary technicians is higher than average for all U.S. professions, with a 30% increase in employment opportunities projected between 2012 and 2022.

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