How to Become a Vet Tech: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you an animal lover with a passion for healthcare? Do you dream of pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, but don’t have the time or resources to become a veterinarian? If so, a career as a vet tech may be the perfect fit for you.

Vet techs, or veterinary technicians, are trained professionals who assist veterinarians in providing medical care and treatment to animals. They play an essential role in the animal healthcare industry by performing a variety of tasks, including administering medication, collecting samples, conducting lab tests, and assisting with surgeries.

In recent years, the demand for vet techs has increased significantly, and the job outlook for this profession is expected to grow much faster than average. However, becoming a vet tech requires a specific set of skills and qualifications. In this post, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to become a vet tech, including education, certification, internship, and job outlook.

What is a Vet Tech?

A veterinary technician, commonly known as a vet tech, is a trained professional who plays a critical role in ensuring the health and well-being of animals. The job description for a vet tech is multifaceted and entails a wide range of responsibilities.

One of the primary responsibilities of a vet tech is to assist veterinarians in examining and treating animals. This may include taking vital signs, collecting samples, administering medication, and performing diagnostic tests. Vet techs are also responsible for monitoring animals during surgery, preparing surgical equipment, and maintaining accurate medical records.

In addition to clinical duties, vet techs are often involved in client education. They may provide information on animal care, nutrition, and behavior, as well as answer questions about medical treatments and procedures.

To become a vet tech, certain qualifications are required. Most employers prefer candidates with an associate’s degree from an accredited program. Coursework typically covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and animal behavior. Additionally, some states require vet techs to obtain a license or certification after completing their education.

In summary, a vet tech is an essential member of the animal healthcare team, whose job description includes a wide range of responsibilities, from clinical duties to client education. To pursue this career path, one must possess the necessary qualifications, including completing an accredited program and obtaining any required licensure or certification.

Why Become a Vet Tech?

If you’re an animal lover seeking a career in the healthcare industry, becoming a vet tech might be the perfect fit for you. Here are some compelling reasons why:

Passion for Animals: As a veterinary technician, you’ll get to work with animals every day. You’ll have the opportunity to provide hands-on care and support for a variety of creatures, from cats and dogs to birds and reptiles. If you’re passionate about animal welfare and want to make a positive impact on their lives, then this is the career for you.

Career Growth: The demand for vet techs is on the rise, with a projected job growth rate of 16% between 2019-2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This means that there will be plenty of job opportunities available, especially for those with specialized skills or certifications. Additionally, many vet techs go on to become veterinary technologists, earn advanced degrees, or even start their own animal-related businesses.

Job Stability: With an increasing number of households owning pets, the need for veterinary services continues to grow. As a result, vet techs enjoy a high level of job stability and security. Moreover, veterinary clinics and hospitals are considered essential businesses, meaning that they remain open during times of economic downturns or crises.

Personal Fulfillment: Working as a veterinary technician can be incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally. Not only will you be able to help animals in need, but you’ll also develop meaningful relationships with clients and fellow staff members. Furthermore, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your work contributes to the overall health and well-being of the community.

In short, becoming a vet tech is an excellent career choice for anyone who loves animals and wants to make a difference in their lives. With opportunities for career growth, job stability, and personal fulfillment, it’s no wonder why so many people choose this path.

Steps to Becoming a Vet Tech

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma or Equivalent

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma or Equivalent

One of the first steps to becoming a vet tech is to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. While some vet tech programs may not require a diploma, having one can give you an advantage when applying to schools and jobs in the future.

If you do not have a high school diploma, you can obtain a General Education Development (GED) certificate as an alternative. This is a test that measures your knowledge and skills in math, science, reading, writing, and social studies. It is accepted by most colleges, universities, and employers as the equivalent of a high school diploma.

In addition to having a diploma or GED, it is important to have taken relevant courses in high school, such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy. These classes can provide a foundation for understanding animal health and physiology, which is essential for a career as a vet tech.

It is also important to maintain good grades throughout high school, as this can impact your chances of getting into vet tech programs later on. Admissions committees often look at academic performance when making decisions, so it is crucial to put effort into your studies.

Overall, earning a high school diploma or equivalent, taking relevant courses, and maintaining good grades are the first steps towards becoming a successful vet tech. By investing time and effort into your education, you can set yourself up for a rewarding career in animal healthcare.

Step 2: Complete a Vet Tech Program

Completing a vet tech program is an essential step in becoming a veterinary technician. There are various options available, including accredited programs, associate’s degrees, and online programs.

Accredited programs are those that have been evaluated and approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These programs meet certain standards of quality and ensure that graduates are adequately prepared for their careers. Attending an accredited program can also make you eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), which is required for certification in many states.

Associate’s degree programs typically take two years to complete and provide a comprehensive education in veterinary technology. These programs usually include both classroom and clinical instruction, giving students hands-on experience with animals and medical procedures. Additionally, many associate’s degree programs offer specializations in areas such as equine medicine or laboratory animal science.

Online programs are becoming increasingly popular, offering flexible options for students who may have other commitments or live far from physical campuses. These programs cover the same material as traditional programs but allow students to complete coursework at their own pace. However, it is important to ensure that online programs are accredited and meet the same standards as traditional programs.

The curriculum for a vet tech program typically includes courses in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, diagnostic imaging, anesthesia, and surgical techniques. In addition to these core courses, students may have the opportunity to take electives in specialized areas of interest.

Overall, completing a vet tech program is a crucial step in preparing for a career as a veterinary technician. Whether choosing an accredited program, an associate’s degree, or an online program, it is important to carefully research and select a program that meets your needs and prepares you for success in this rewarding field.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Becoming a certified veterinary technician (CVT) is an essential step in becoming a successful vet tech. Certification offers many benefits, such as recognition of your skills and knowledge, more job opportunities, and higher salaries.

To become certified, you must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), which is administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover various topics, including animal nursing, pharmacology, surgical nursing, and dentistry.

Once you’ve passed the VTNE, you’ll need to obtain a state license to work legally as a CVT. Licensing requirements vary by state, but they typically include completing an accredited veterinary technology program and passing a state exam. Some states also require continuing education credits to renew your license regularly.

It’s important to note that certification and licensing are not the same things. Certification is issued by a professional organization, such as the AAVSB, while licensing is granted by a state government agency.

Renewal of your certification or license is necessary to maintain your qualifications. Renewal requirements may include completing continuing education courses, participating in professional development activities, or paying fees.

Obtaining certification and licensing demonstrates your commitment to the profession and sets you apart from non-certified veterinary technicians. It shows that you have met high standards of skill and knowledge and are committed to providing quality care for animals.

So, don’t hesitate to take the VTNE and pursue certification and licensing. It will open many doors for your career as a vet tech and give you a sense of pride knowing that you’ve achieved a significant milestone in your professional journey.

Step 4: Gain Experience Through an Internship

Step 4: Gain Experience Through an Internship

One of the most crucial steps in becoming a successful vet tech is gaining hands-on experience through an internship. Clinical experience and mentorship from experienced professionals in the industry can prepare you for the demands of the job and give you a competitive edge in the job market.

During your internship, you will work alongside licensed veterinary technicians and other professionals to assist with various tasks such as administering medication, monitoring vital signs, and performing laboratory tests. You will also gain exposure to different types of animals and their care, from cats and dogs to horses and livestock.

One of the biggest benefits of an internship is the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentorship from experienced professionals in the field. You will be able to learn from their expertise and ask questions about specific cases or procedures. This guidance can not only help you improve your skills but also build your confidence in your abilities as a veterinary technician.

Additionally, completing an internship will allow you to start building your resume. Employers value candidates with hands-on experience, and having an internship on your resume can set you apart from other candidates. It shows that you are committed to your career and have developed practical skills beyond classroom learning.

Overall, completing an internship is a valuable step in your journey to becoming a successful vet tech. It provides you with clinical experience, hands-on training, mentorship, and helps you build your resume, setting you up for a successful career in animal healthcare.

Step 5: Network and Build Professional Relationships

Networking and building professional relationships is a vital step towards becoming a successful veterinary technician. This is because it helps you stay updated with the industry’s latest developments, learn new skills and techniques, and find new career opportunities.

Attending industry events like conferences, seminars, and workshops can provide a great opportunity to network with fellow professionals in the field. These events are perfect for learning about the latest technologies, research findings, and advancements in animal healthcare.

Joining professional organizations like the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) or the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) can also be beneficial. These organizations often offer training programs, webinars, and networking events that can help you stay updated on industry trends.

Working closely with a mentor is another effective way to build your professional network and gain valuable insights into the field. A mentor can provide guidance, share their experiences, and offer advice on how to navigate the job market.

Building professional relationships can also lead to new career opportunities. For example, if you’re looking for a job, your connections can help you find open positions, refer you to hiring managers, or even write you a recommendation letter.

In conclusion, networking and building professional relationships are crucial steps towards becoming a successful veterinary technician. By attending industry events, joining professional organizations, working with mentors, and developing a strong network, you’ll be well-positioned to advance your career and achieve your goals.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

If you’re considering a career as a vet tech, it’s important to know what your job outlook and salary expectations might be. Fortunately, the veterinary industry is growing at a steady pace, with an expected 16% increase in demand for vet techs by 2029 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth is largely due to the increasing number of pet owners who seek preventive care for their furry companions.

As for salary, vet techs can expect to earn between $25,000 and $50,000 annually depending on factors such as geographic location, years of experience, and area of specialty. For example, vet techs working in large cities or specialized veterinary practices tend to earn higher salaries than those working in rural areas or general clinics.

Moreover, specialization can also have a significant impact on salary expectations. Vet techs who specialize in areas such as anesthesia or dentistry may command higher pay rates than those who work in more general practices.

Lastly, there are plenty of opportunities for career advancement in the veterinary field. Vet techs can pursue advanced degrees or certifications to become specialists in areas such as emergency and critical care, internal medicine, or surgery. They can also use their experience and knowledge to move into roles such as practice managers or educators.

In conclusion, the job outlook for vet techs is promising, with continued industry growth and stable demand. While salaries can vary based on location, experience, and specialty, vet techs can expect to earn a comfortable living wage. With opportunities for specialization and career advancement, becoming a vet tech can be a fulfilling and rewarding career choice for animal lovers.


Becoming a vet tech is a rewarding career for those who are passionate about animal healthcare. It offers a chance to work alongside and care for animals in need, while also providing a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

One of the most exciting aspects of being a vet tech is the opportunity for lifelong learning. As the field of animal healthcare continues to evolve, vet techs must stay up-to-date with new technologies, treatment options, and best practices. This ongoing education allows vet techs to expand their knowledge and skills, ensuring they are providing the highest level of care possible.

Furthermore, the future prospects for vet techs are promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of veterinary technicians and technologists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due in part to an increasing demand for pet healthcare services as well as advances in veterinary medicine.

In conclusion, for those looking for a career that combines their love of animals with a desire to make a difference in the world, becoming a vet tech is an excellent choice. With its rewarding nature, opportunities for lifelong learning, and promising future prospects, a career as a vet tech has the potential to be both personally and professionally fulfilling.
After completing a vet tech program, obtaining certification, gaining experience through an internship, and building professional networks, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on a fulfilling career in animal healthcare. As a veterinary technician, you’ll play a vital role in caring for animals and supporting the work of veterinarians. With industry growth and opportunities for specializations and advancement, becoming a vet tech can provide both job stability and personal fulfillment. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can begin your journey towards a rewarding career that combines your passion for animals with lifelong learning and future prospects. Best of luck on your path towards becoming a vet tech!

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