Deciding Your Path After Passing the VTNE: A Guide for New Veterinary Technicians

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

Passing the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) is a significant milestone in your career, marking the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. With your credential in hand, you now face the exciting but sometimes overwhelming decision of choosing the right field to specialize in. The veterinary field offers a diverse range of career paths, each with its own unique challenges and rewards. Here’s a guide to help you navigate your options and find the best fit for your skills and interests after passing the VTNE.

1. Small Animal Practice


  • High Demand: Small animal clinics are prevalent, making job opportunities plentiful.
  • Client Interaction: Frequent interactions with pet owners can be rewarding.
  • Variety of Cases: From routine check-ups to emergency care, you’ll encounter a wide range of medical cases.


  • Emotional Challenges: Dealing with pet loss and emotional clients can be tough.
  • Fast-Paced Environment: Clinics often have a high turnover of patients, requiring quick and efficient work.

2. Large Animal Practice


  • Outdoor Work: If you enjoy being outdoors, this field offers plenty of opportunities to work on farms and ranches.
  • Diverse Skills: Handling large animals requires a different set of skills, which can be both challenging and rewarding.
  • Rural Opportunities: There is often a high demand for large animal technicians in rural areas.


  • Physical Demands: Working with large animals can be physically strenuous and sometimes dangerous.
  • Travel Requirements: You may need to travel long distances to reach clients.

3. Exotic Animal Practice


  • Unique Experiences: Working with exotic animals like reptiles, birds, and small mammals can be fascinating.
  • Specialized Knowledge: You’ll gain expertise in the care of less common pets, which can be a niche market.


  • Limited Positions: There are fewer clinics specializing in exotic animals, which can make finding a job more challenging.
  • Specialized Knowledge Required: Additional training and education might be necessary to handle exotic species properly.

4. Emergency and Critical Care


  • High-Intensity Environment: If you thrive in fast-paced, high-stakes situations, this field can be incredibly rewarding.
  • Advanced Skills: You’ll develop advanced skills in emergency procedures and critical care.


  • Stressful: The nature of emergency work can be highly stressful and emotionally taxing.
  • Irregular Hours: Expect to work nights, weekends, and holidays.

5. Specialty Practices


  • Advanced Procedures: Working in specialty practices like oncology, cardiology, or surgery allows you to focus on advanced medical procedures.
  • Team Environment: Often, you’ll work closely with specialists and other highly trained professionals.


  • Intensive Training: Additional certifications or specialized training might be required.
  • Competition: These positions can be highly competitive.

6. Research and Laboratory Work


  • Contribute to Science: You’ll play a vital role in scientific research, helping to advance veterinary medicine.
  • Controlled Environment: Work in a more controlled, less chaotic environment compared to clinical settings.


  • Less Animal Interaction: You may have less direct interaction with animals.
  • Routine Work: Laboratory work can sometimes be repetitive.

7. Veterinary Education and Training


  • Teaching Opportunities: If you have a passion for education, you can train the next generation of veterinary technicians.
  • Work-Life Balance: Academic positions often offer more regular hours and a better work-life balance.


  • Academic Requirements: You may need additional qualifications, such as a teaching certification.
  • Limited Positions: Opportunities in education can be limited and competitive.

Making Your Decision

When deciding which field to pursue, consider the following steps:

  1. Self-Assessment: Reflect on your strengths, interests, and long-term career goals. What aspects of veterinary medicine excite you the most?
  2. Research: Gather information about different fields. Talk to professionals currently working in those areas to get a realistic view of what the job entails.
  3. Experience: If possible, gain experience through internships, volunteer work, or part-time positions in different settings to see what suits you best.
  4. Continuing Education: Consider additional certifications or courses that might open doors to specialized fields.
  5. Work-Life Balance: Think about the lifestyle you want. Different fields offer varying work schedules and stress levels.


Choosing a field after passing the VTNE is a personal decision that depends on your passions, strengths, and career aspirations. The veterinary field is vast and diverse, offering numerous opportunities to find your niche. By assessing your interests, gaining experience, and continuing your education, you can find a fulfilling and rewarding career path that aligns with your professional goals and personal values. Remember, your journey in veterinary medicine is just beginning, and there are many exciting paths to explore.

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.