primarily two levels of education and training for entry to this
occupation: a 2-year program for veterinary technicians and a 4-year
program for veterinary technologists.
Most entry-level veterinary
technicians have a 2-year degree, usually an
associate's degree, from an
accredited community college program in veterinary technology in which
courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live
animals. About 20 colleges offer veterinary technology programs that are
longer and that culminate in a 4-year bachelor's degree in veterinary
technology. These 4-year colleges, in addition to some vocational
schools, also offer 2-year programs in laboratory animal science.
Approximately 5 schools offer distance learning.
Veterinary technology programs in the United States are accredited
by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Graduation from
an AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program allows students to take
the credentialing exam in any State in the country. Each State regulates
veterinary technicians and technologists differently; however, all
States require them to pass a credentialing exam following coursework.
Passing the State exam assures the public that the technician or
technologist has sufficient knowledge to work in a veterinary clinic or
hospital. Candidates are tested for competency through an examination
that includes oral, written, and practical portions and that is
regulated by the State Board of Veterinary Examiners or the appropriate
State agency. Depending on the State, candidates may become registered,
licensed, or certified. Most States, however, use the National
Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. Prospects usually can have their
passing scores transferred from one State to another, so long as both
States utilize the same exam.
recommend American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS)
certification for those seeking employment in a research facility. AALAS
offers certification for three levels of technician competence, with a
focus on three principal areas--animal husbandry, facility management,
and animal health and welfare. Those who wish to become certified must
satisfy a combination of education and experience requirements prior to
taking an exam. Work experience must be directly related to the
maintenance, health, and well-being of laboratory animals and must be
gained in a laboratory animal facility as defined by AALAS. Candidates
who meet the necessary criteria can begin pursuing the desired
certification on the basis of their qualifications. The lowest level of
certification is Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT), the
second level is Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT), and the highest
level of certification is Laboratory Animal Technologist (LATG). The
examination consists of multiple-choice questions and is longer and more
difficult for higher levels of certification, ranging from 2 hours for
the ALAT to 3 hours for the LATG.
interested in careers as veterinary technologists and technicians should
take as many high school science, biology, and math courses as possible.
Science courses taken beyond high school, in an associate's or
bachelor's degree program, should emphasize practical skills in a
clinical or laboratory setting. Because veterinary technologists and
technicians often deal with pet owners, communication skills are very
important. In addition, technologists and technicians should be able to
work well with others, because teamwork with veterinarians is common.
Organizational ability and the ability to pay attention to detail also
Technologists and technicians usually begin work as trainees in routine
positions under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Entry-level
workers whose training or educational background encompasses extensive
hands-on experience with a variety of laboratory equipment, including
diagnostic and medical equipment, usually require a shorter period of
on-the-job training. As they gain experience, technologists and
technicians take on more responsibility and carry out more assignments
under only general veterinary supervision. Some eventually may become
represents the highest standard of achievement for veterinary medical
education in the United States. Institutions that earn accreditation
for an individual program confirm their commitment to quality and continuous improvement through a
rigorous and comprehensive peer review. Accreditation standards are set
Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA)
American Veterinary Medical Association. Be sure to check with the accrediting bodies for current list of accredited programs before registering.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.