Veterinary Assistant to Veterinary Technician

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Comments (9)

rift_in_time in Salt Lake City, Utah

65 months ago

I read somewhere that if you have 2-3 years experience as a veterinary assistant you can take the test to become a veterinarian technician. Is this true?

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CindyRVT in Henderson, Texas

65 months ago

No, in Utah this is not correct. According to Utah's Veterinary Practice Act a veterinary technician is someone who has a degree in veterinary technology from an AVMA accredited program.

The laws governing veterinary technicians vary from state to state, so you always need to check your local statutes when you hear information like this.
There may be a few states who still allow "grandfathering in" as the practice of allowing on-the-job trained individuals with a certain amount of experience is called. However as of 2010 this practice will no longer be allowed as the American Assoc. of Veterinary State Boards who owns the national exam has set that deadline for grandfathering to end.

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rift_in_time in Ogden, Utah

65 months ago

I kind of figured out that you can't become a veterinary technician without going to school. But I have another question. I'm enrolled in a Veterinary Assistant course at a local Vet Clinic and the Veterinarian that teaches the course says that if you have a Veteran Assistant certification and a lot of experience, you can do the same things as Veterinary Technician and will get paid just as much. I've looked up a lot of jobs as well, and many just require a few years experience, not necessarily a certification. So if I find that college isn't for me, is there still a promising career as a veterinary assistant?

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CindyRVT in Henderson, Texas

65 months ago

What you can/should do as a veterinary assistant isn't going to always be the same as what a veterinary technician can/should do just because the education is vastly different. Veterinary assistants don't have to take a credit course and lab just on surgical assisting and anesthesia, for example. Would you want someone who took a non-degree and basic course in basic hospital procedure serving as your anesthetist if you were in the hospital rather than someone who has had and in-depth, specific education in anesthesia?

In some states the difference in what an assistant can do vs. a technician is just going to be a moral/ethical decision on the part of the doctor and in others it's going to be spelled out in the laws that govern veterinary medicine.

Certified veteirnary assistants can be quite happy in their position and have a definite place in the veterinary team, but as for having the same sort of career as a credentialed veterinary technician and making the same pay you will find that an assistant will be more limited over time.Certified assistants can't earn specialist status through any of the veterinary technician specialty organizations and can't perform certain duties in different states. And for some of the better paying jobs, a degree and credentials as a veterinary technician are often required--for example university and research jobs.

If you are looking at staying in the veterinary medical field long-term, you would really do well to go ahead with a degree from an AVMA approved veterinary technology program. This will allow you to transfer credentials from state to state should you end up moving in the future and will also give you a good background of information/skills to build on. Specialization and even acquiring a bachelors degree in veterinary technology is the way that this profession is going these days and you want to set yourself up to have the most opportunities for the future to grow with the profession.

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pebcle in Cleveland, Ohio

65 months ago

In the Cleveland, OH area, veterinarians don't care if you have a degree (in fact, most don't post tech licenses although legally required by the Ohio Vet Med Licensing Board). I was ridiculed for wasting my money getting my Associate Degree since nearly everyone (the "honchos" @ the clinic) was trained on the job only. If you can study on your own & pay $250 to take the licensing test, go ahead. Like most tech degrees, it's low pay, few benefits, little respect. If you can live on $15-20K gross (translates to $12-13K real money) & are masochistic, OK. Sure there are job openings & a swinging door @ most clinics. Lots of luck.

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CindyRVT in Henderson, Texas

65 months ago

Never assume that all vets are just like the one(s) you've had exposure to. In one city I have worked for vets who wanted only educated, highly skilled technicians and were willing to pay for them as well as veterinarians who didn't care about education of technicians. (of course some of those same ones who didn't care about technicians being educated were also performing multiple surgeries out of the same surgical packs.)

And if you see people breaking the law and it upets you so much, consider reporting them to the licensing board in your state. That's going to be the only way to get these people to follow the law.

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bangalee in Hammond, Louisiana

64 months ago

pebcle in Cleveland, Ohio said: In the Cleveland, OH area, veterinarians don't care if you have a degree (in fact, most don't post tech licenses although legally required by the Ohio Vet Med Licensing Board). I was ridiculed for wasting my money getting my Associate Degree since nearly everyone (the "honchos" @ the clinic) was trained on the job only. If you can study on your own & pay $250 to take the licensing test, go ahead. Like most tech degrees, it's low pay, few benefits, little respect. If you can live on $15-20K gross (translates to $12-13K real money) & are masochistic, OK. Sure there are job openings & a swinging door @ most clinics. Lots of luck.

Amen to that, I have worked at this same clinic for almost 4years. I wanted to get my certification last year and was told not to waste my money, because the area I live in will not pay anymore for a certified tech then it will an assitant with no certification. And to top it off I have found it's not what you know that gets you ahead, its if you were there first and if the boss really really likes you.

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CindyRVT in Henderson, Texas

64 months ago

Unfortunately, the opinions of veterinarians aren't going to change overnight but they are changing as the older vets who don't have much experience with educated/trained technicians and don't understand the additional value these people can add to their practice leave the workforce. Veterinarians who have gained their education in the last 10 years tend to take a much different view of trained/credentialed technicians because they have worked with them and even been taught by them in school. I have watched this trend over the last 20 years in the profession and though you still have lots of vets who don't see the value in educated personnel that is changing. And the laws are changing as well. More and more states are adding laws governing the activities of untrained personnel in veterinary practice.

So while the vet that someone currently works for may not see the value of education and credentialling, it would be foolish to assume that that is the prevelant opinion and to let someone else prevent you from improving yourself.

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AusVT in Brisbane, Australia

63 months ago

Hi I am studying a Veterinary Technology course through the UQ Vet School. I am almost finished my degree but feel like it has been a bit of a waste of time. In Australia even though we are being trained through the Vet School and we are doing a 3 year bachelor like is done in America we are not recognised in Australia as a professional group and do not have our own pay rate under the award. (Actually come to think of it I dont think we are recognised in America either) This means we could technically get paid less than a registered vet nurse because we dont have the certificate IV qualification.
Recently they have given us the opportunity to get our certificate IV qualifications too if we pay extra money and complete the practical work not covered in our vet tech degree. I feel like this is the vet schools way of acknowledging that we are not getting recognised and trying to make sure our 3 years spent at university was not waste of time.
I am wondering whether there are further exams or courses I can sit that will make me better qualified. I dont just want to be looked at as a nurse that went to uni for a bit.

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