How to Become a Veterinary Technician: A Comprehensive Guide

OC Veterinary Assistant School - Veterinary Assistant Helping Veterinary Technician Examine Dogs Ear

The world of veterinary medicine is vast and fascinating. For those who are passionate about animal care, becoming a veterinary technician (often referred to as a vet tech) might be the perfect career choice. But how does one navigate the path to this profession? Let’s delve into the journey of becoming a vet tech.

1. Educational Foundations

First and foremost, you need to have completed high school or earned a GED. Having a high school diploma is essential before you can step into the world of veterinary technology. After high school, prospective vet techs typically enroll in a veterinary technology program. These programs can be found in community colleges, trade school, and some universities.

Alternate Route vs. Associate’s Degree vs. Bachelor’s Degree

Most vet techs hold an associate’s degree in veterinary technology. Some states allow students an Alternate Route to obtain their license as an RVT. However, some may pursue a bachelor’s degree. The latter is often chosen by those aiming to specialize in areas like zoological medicine, biomedical research, or veterinary technologist specialties.

2. Accredited Programs

Traditional Route

It’s paramount to ensure that the vet tech program you choose is accredited. Opting for an AVMA-accredited (American Veterinary Medical Association) program is a wise choice. The Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities ensures these programs meet the highest educational standards.

Alt Route Options:

California offers an alternate route to complete your Vet Tech Degree, a program which OCVAS offers at both its Lake Forest and Garden Grove locations. This program is a combination of postsecondary education and at least 4,416 hours of practical experience.  

3. Hands-on Experience

All paths require hands-on experience. Students often work in veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, or kennels. The externship offers a glimpse into the work environment of a vet tech and helps in acquiring practical skills.

4. VTNE – The Golden Ticket

After completing their education, aspiring vet techs must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). This examination is overseen by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Passing the VTNE is a crucial step towards credentialing and licensure.

5. Licensure and Credentialing

The terms licensed veterinary technician, certified veterinary technician (CVT), and other titles vary by state. It’s vital to check your state’s requirements. In some places, like California, the process might be different than in others.

6. Job Training and Growth

Once you’re a vet tech, the learning doesn’t stop. Continuing education is essential, and specialties like dentistry, pharmacology, critical care, radiology, and diagnostic imaging can enhance your skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth for veterinary technicians is promising, further highlighting the benefits of this career path.

7. The Work Environment

Vet techs work in diverse environments. From small animal practices to large animal hospitals, from emergency care to zoological medicine, the possibilities are vast. Veterinary assistants or vet assistants often work alongside vet techs, assisting in tasks like administering vaccines or taking x-rays.

8. Communication Skills

Dealing with pet owners requires excellent communication skills. From explaining laboratory tests to guiding through veterinary practice protocols, a vet tech plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between a licensed veterinarian and pet owners.

FAQs About Becoming a Vet Tech

Is there a difference between veterinary technologists and veterinary technicians?
Technologists typically hold a bachelor’s degree and may take up roles in research, while technicians usually have an associate’s degree and work in practices.

Do vet techs need to be good at science?
Absolutely. Courses in anatomy, pharmacology, and radiology are integral to a vet tech career.

Can I start as a vet assistant and move up?
Yes, many vet assistants later enroll in a vet tech program at a trade school or community college to advance their careers.


The journey to becoming a vet tech is both rigorous and rewarding. With the right education, training, and passion, it’s a career that promises growth, fulfillment, and a chance to make a significant difference in the veterinary field. Whether you’re assisting in surgeries, working in a veterinary clinic, or specializing in zoological medicine, the sky’s the limit in this profession.

Classes Beginning Soon


Veterinary Attendant Program

For those just beginning their future in veterinary medicine and have no, or little experience in a clinical setting.

Level 1 Veterinary Assistant

Intended for those who have either finished the Veterinary Attendant Program or have clinical experience.

Level 2 Veterinary Technician

Intended for advanced students who have completed the Level I Class requirements and can pass the Level II Assessment Exam.