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How To Become a Vet Tech/Nurse

Kat Milcke, RVT Jun 14, 2017 11:13:52 AM

We recently had a blog post about becoming a veterinarian,( if you missed it, see it HERE!). But what about becoming a veterinary technician? When I’m writing, I write mostly from the perspective of such, as I’m a Registered Veterinary Technician in Ottawa, Canada. And at Smart Flow, I get the great pleasure of working with lots of different veterinary professionals, be it fellow RVTS, or even veterinary nurses from across the big pond. That got me thinking - there must be regulations as to how to become a veterinary technician in different countries. 

Here’s how to become a veterinary technician/nurse in four different countries!

1. Canada

I became a vet tech in Canada through blood, sweat and tears. So that’s basically the gist of it. Just kidding! In all seriousness, in Canada you need to attend a 2 year program at a college that is accredited by the CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medical Association). From personal experience, this will include education in pharmacology, parasitology, clinical skills, hands on surgeries, volunteering at the humane society as well as keeping a grade average above 60%. You will also need to complete a 4 week placement (120 total hours) in a veterinary clinic. To then become a registered veterinary technician, the regulations vary a little by province, but overall you need to have graduated from the accredited college, pay fees to your provincial association(for me it’s the OAVT - Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians) and be a member in good standing, pass a criminal record cheque and pass the VTNE - Veterinary Technician National Examination. Then to keep your registration you need to pay your yearly fees, as well as obtain 20 continuing education credits every 2 years. Piece of cake (not). 

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2. United States

In the USA it is much the same, in the sense that you need to attend a 2 year college program that is accredited by their governing body, the AVMA - American Veterinary Medical Association. Then, if they chose to become licensed, they will need to successfully complete the VTNE. I should mention that the VTNE is a 200 question, multiple choice test, that encompasses the entire two years of education, and in order to pass one needs to score over 70%. Further steps to become licensed vary state by state, though are overlooked the NAVTA - National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. More details are on their website HERE. Once the VTNE is passed and the other licensing requirements are met, one would be a LVT - Licensed Veterinary Technician, RVT or CVT - Certified Veterinary Technician, depending on the state you live in.


3. United Kingdom

In the UK, what we call veterinary technicians in North America are called Veterinary Nurses. Which, if you ask me, is a title that encompasses what we do a lot more than ‘technician’. At the end of the day, we are essentialy animal nurses. But I digress. In the UK, you need to attend a college program that’s sanctioned by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), while being registered as a veterinary nurse student with the RCVS. You can do this either on a full time basis, or apprenticeship style - doing both school and working in a veterinary hospital part time. Then you need to complete 60 full time weeks of training at a RCVS registered training practice, keep an electronic log of the skills that you have learned, pass a multiple choice exam in the theory of nursing and pass a practical exam. Then you’ll need to pay a yearly fee to the RCVS. 


4. Australia

I’m going to be honest. I did quite a bit of research as to how to become a veterinary nurse in Australia because a) it’s a little confusing and b) one day I think I’d really like to live there. So from what I understand, you need to complete a pre assessment test to determine how much you know. From there you will be slotted into either the ‘Entry to the industry’ group (where there is no prior knowledge), the ‘Certificate II in Animal Studies’ group, or the ‘Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing’ group. You will need to work your way up and complete all certificates before you can be considered a veterinary nurse. However, in order to be employable, you will need to work alongside your studies. So getting a job in a veterinary environment ASAP is crucial and will help greatly in your success. There is a governing body called the VNCA - Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia. They have some great resources on their site, and they also have some really great conferences that Smart Flow attends! 

All this goes to show that veterinary technicians and nurses go through a great deal of education and training in order to work with animals in veterinary clinics. We take our profession very seriously, otherwise we wouldn’t jump over all the hurdles! Vet techs rule!




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