Getting a credential, such as the Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT), or the Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT)—which are commonly bundled under the umbrella term credentialed veterinary technician by the administering National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America—can enhance your career and provide more opportunity for advancement.
Technicians work the same hours that pharmacists work. These may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays, particularly in facilities that are open 24 hours a day such as hospitals and some retail pharmacies. As their seniority increases, technicians often acquire increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.
A degree program is generally two years and results in a full academic degree, an associate’s degree (AA), that will distinguish your credentials and provide a foundation on which to build. That is, when you complete an AA, you will have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a full, four-year degree later on. Even if you never return to college again, having a full degree will be worthwhile. The additional courses will inform you as a person and professional, expanding your ability to communicate and understand your patients.
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Veterinary technicians are often confused with veterinary technologists. While both occupations share some of the same job responsibilities, they work under a veterinarian to test animals and diagnose illnesses and injuries. A veterinary technician requires less education. A typical degree program completed by a veterinary technician lasts for two years and is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Licensing, certification and registration requirements for vet technicians vary by state.
5. Teach at a local community college. This is not always the easiest path to take, but it's worthwhile if you enjoy teaching others. Not all states have programs, and those that do tend to hang onto their teachers. So it may be a long process to find a program that's the right fit. Volunteer at local colleges to try to get your foot in the door, or apply with online programs. The more teaching experience you have to go alongside your veterinary technician licensure, the better your chances of obtaining a position. Some programs may also require higher education—some may accept an associate’s degree, while others may require a bachelor’s.
Attending a postsecondary education program with an emphasis in pharmacy technology is helpful but not required. Vocational schools and community colleges offer these programs, which usually last one year or less. They might teach mathematics commonly applied in pharmacies and help familiarize students with the names, uses and doses of medications. Best practices for dispensing medications, as well as pharmacy law and ethics, will also be covered. Some training programs include internships that allow students to obtain hands-on experience.
Since you’ll be required to work with computers, software and financial transactions in your dealings with the public, learning some accounting principles—specifically billing and reimbursement—will come in handy. Consider taking a mathematics course. Understanding patient maintenance software, pharmaceutical software and prescription processing software will also give you an advantage. Learn about data management and take a course in Microsoft Excel to further give yourself an edge.
An individual enrolled in a technician training course or program, or an individual who has not previously worked as a pharmacy technician and who accepts technician employment in an Iowa pharmacy, must register as a pharmacy technician trainee within 30 days of starting technician training or employment. A technician trainee must become a nationally certified pharmacy technician within 12 months of starting technician employment or training.

Besides your studies, there are several skills you could cultivate in order to perform your duties as a pharmacy technician optimally. In your classes you’ll learn to work with the tools of the trade, such as Auger Dose Machines, Lab Blenders and Emulsifiers and Sterile Processing and Filling Machines, but what else can you learn to get a jump on the competition?
In early 2017, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) held a national stakeholder meeting to develop industrywide consensus on qualifications and standards for advanced practice and entry-level technicians.4 Attendees drafted recommendations for the advanced practice certification, education, entry-level requirements, and regulation of technicians. As a result of this meeting, the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the PTCB have implemented more stringent and uniform requirements regarding certification, education, and continuing education for technicians, with new standards for ACPE accreditation and PTCB certification taking effect in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively.5,6 The PTCB has also developed a second certification program focused specifically on sterile compounding.7

Technicians' additional training allows them to perform tasks that include administering anesthesia, and medicating and vaccinating animals. Assistants feed and bathe animals, prepare examination and operating rooms, and may also perform clerical duties. State laws regulate what those working in each occupation are permitted to do. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website provides a state-by-state guide to specified duties of assistants and technicians.

In addition to the responsibilities above, veterinary technicians employed in a biomedical research facility perform other duties under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, a biomedical research worker, or other scientist, such as supervising the humane care and handling of research animals and assisting in the implementation of research projects.


"One of the most challenging aspects [of the job] comes down to maintaining knowledge on all the changes that occur within the field," says Mike Johnston, chairman and CEO of the National Pharmacy Technician Association. "Pharmacy practice changes on a weekly basis with new generics and new drugs." Another challenge is interacting with patients who are "not always feeling their best," he says. "The majority of your customers that you're going to be dealing with are sick – whether it be a cold or sinus infection or a much more serious, chronic condition. So it takes a lot of compassion and empathy."
Angela believes in teaching to the individual, to the extent possible within a group. Each student learns differently, so she incorporates a variety of mediums in coursework, including web-based instruction, lecture, hands-on labs, research, as well as music and other multimedia sources as learning tools. In her years as a student and teacher, both informal and formal, she has learned that playing to individual learning style preferences and strengths yield the most productive results.
Veterinary assistants support the veterinarian and/or the veterinary technician in their daily tasks. The assistant may be asked to perform kennel work, assist in the restraint and handling of animals, feed and exercise the animals, or spend time on clerical duties. There are training programs for veterinary assistants, and some are trained on the job. At this time, there is no credentialing exam for veterinary assistants.
5. Teach at a local community college. This is not always the easiest path to take, but it's worthwhile if you enjoy teaching others. Not all states have programs, and those that do tend to hang onto their teachers. So it may be a long process to find a program that's the right fit. Volunteer at local colleges to try to get your foot in the door, or apply with online programs. The more teaching experience you have to go alongside your veterinary technician licensure, the better your chances of obtaining a position. Some programs may also require higher education—some may accept an associate’s degree, while others may require a bachelor’s.
Veterinary technologists usually have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Although some technologists work in private clinical practices, many work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist or veterinarian. Working primarily in a laboratory setting, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record information on an animal’s genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain.
Average Americans work well into their 60s, so workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and a career that's fulfilling. A job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve, get promoted and earn a higher salary would make many employees happy. Here's how Veterinary Techs and Technicians job satisfaction is rated in terms of upward mobility, stress level and flexibility.
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