Registered Veterinary Technician Job Description and Career Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a registered veterinary technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and credentialing to find out if this is the career for you.

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A registered veterinary technician may be a career for you if you like animals and would enjoy working with them. Veterinary technicians care for animals in veterinary clinics and offices examining pets, collecting specimens and performing other tasks. Most states and employers require veterinary technicians to be licensed (registered).

Essential Information

A registered veterinary technician assists a veterinarian in caring for animals. From collecting information on animals and interviewing owners to testing specimens or assisting in laboratory research, veterinary technicians might be responsible for any number of duties and have a number of career options. Completion of a 2-year degree program in veterinary medicine is required to become a vet technician, and many states require passing an exam to become registered.

Required Education Associate's degree in veterinary technology
Credentialing Most states require technicians to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 19%*
Median Salary (2015) $31,800*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Description for Registered Veterinary Technicians

A registered veterinary technician (RVT) performs custom medical and laboratory procedures under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. The technician receives animals, examines their medical histories, interviews owners and presents information to the veterinarian in a useful and concise manner. Technicians also routinely collect, process and test specimens like stools or blood.

While a small number of registered veterinary technicians work with both domestic and wild animals, the majority of veterinary technicians are employed by offices that care for house pets or domesticated agricultural animals, like dogs, cats, rats, mice, frogs, monkeys, fish, birds, cattle, sheep or pigs.

Along with assisting in animal health care, a number of technicians also help veterinarians as they work with other medical personnel on research projects like cloning and gene therapy. Others discover opportunities in livestock supervision, pharmaceutical vending, biomedical study or wildlife medication.

A registered veterinary technician must have the necessary physical strength to perform tasks like dealing with sick and injured animals that may bite or scratch, cleaning cages and restraining, holding or lifting animals. Because a technician helps veterinarians with medical and diagnostic testing, knowledge of medical tools, such as analytic equipment and test tubes, is required.

Education and Skills Required

A registered veterinary technician needs to be diligent in the study of math and science, especially biology, at the high school level. Basic education includes high school graduation or a GED, followed by completion of a college degree program that places emphasis on useful skills in laboratory or medical surroundings.

Although each state issues a credentialing test to verify that the candidate is well-informed about the responsibilities of a registered veterinary technician, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certification is required by most employers. As in any medical setting, communication and organizational skills, as well as a strong attention to detail, are extremely important for individuals seeking employment in this field.

A career as a veterinary technician requires training and many employers require an associate's degree in veterinary technology. Most employers and states also require certification. Certification includes completion of an accredited veterinary technician program and passing a certification exam.

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