Becoming a vet tech is a great career path for those who want to play an essential role in the health of animals big and small. Th
In the world of veterinary medicine, the career possibilities are endless. This not only applies to veterinarians, but to veterinary technicians as well. Veterinary technicians are not limited to general practice. Just like veterinarian programs, vet tech programs may offer specializations in specific areas of interest or expertise. Sometimes this specialization takes more training in addition to the technical program, but with that extra training comes more knowledge and often a higher salary as well!
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), is an organization dedicated to veterinary nurses and technicians. They developed a Committee on Veterinary Technicians Specialties (CVTS) in 1994 due to a growing interest of vet techs to gain advanced training in certain disciplines. The CVTS oversees the Vet Tech Specialty Academies and develops standards and procedures for obtaining recognition to form a specialty organization. Each of the various Academies has set out guidelines, skills, and exams that candidates need to complete to ear the title of Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) in their discipline.
Right now, there are 4 Academies who have been approved by the NAVTA.
- The Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians and Nurses
- The Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians
- The Academy of Internal Medicine Veterinary Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Anesthesia and Analgesia
There are 12 Academies who have provisional recognition by the NAVTA.
- The Academy of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians and Nurses
- The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Clinical Pathology Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice
- The Academy of Dermatology Veterinary Technicians
- The Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians
- The Academy of Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Ophthalmic Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians
- The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Diagnostics Imaging
The most popular vet tech specialties are the ones currently approved by the NAVTA. Let’s breakdown the 4 top specialties.
Emergency & Critical Care
The Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians and Nurses (AVECCTN) was the first organization to be recognized by the NAVTA as a veterinary technical specialty. According to a 2015 article by DVM360, the Emergency and Critical Care specialty for technicians was the most popular, with over 360 members credentialed. The mission statement of the AVECCTN-VTS, is “To advance emergency and critical care veterinary nurses and technicians through certification and standards of excellence.” Technicians in this field are specially trained to assist veterinarians in emergency cases and to help care of critically ill hospitalized patients. In order to be eligible for these credentials, a candidate must have:
- Credentials as a veterinary technician from an AVMA-approved school
- A member of a local American Veterinary Technician Association and a member of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society.
- Three years of full-time experience in emergency and critical care medicine.
- At least twenty-five hours of continuing education related to emergency and critical care.
- Provide documentation of competence in emergency and critical care experience.
Anesthesia & Analgesia
The Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Anesthesia and Analgesia (AVTAA)
DVM360 suggests that in 2015, the AVTAA was the second most popular specialty with over 190 credentialed members. Their mission statement is “To promote interest in the discipline of veterinary anesthesia. The academy provides the opportunity for members to enhance their knowledge and skills in the field of veterinary anesthesia.” These technicians have advanced training to assist veterinary surgeons and veterinary anesthesiologists during anesthetic surgical procedures. They monitor and maintain the patients under sedation, as well as maintaining the equipment used. Candidates must complete these steps to be credentialed.
- Be licensed to practice in your state.
- Have 8,000 hours of credentialed experience as a licensed veterinary technician with 75% of the hours being related to anesthesia care & management specifically.
- Maintain continuing education in the area of anesthesia and analgesia.
- Submit case logs.
- Write a case report.
- Demonstrate advanced knowledge and a skills list.
The Academy of Internal Medicine Veterinary Technicians (AIMVT) is the third most popular veterinary technician specialty (DVM360) with over 124 members currently credentialed. Their mission statement is: “The AIMVT will promote the interest in and advance the skills of veterinary technicians within the disciplines of veterinary internal medicine by providing cutting-edge continuing education, working with veterinarians to advocate superior patient care, client education, and consumer protection. The AIMVT will further the recognition of credentialed specialty technicians as leaders in the profession of veterinary internal medicine nursing.” Internal medicine veterinary technicians have the advanced skills to assist internists by preparing samples, assisting with diagnostics procedures, and client education. An AIMVT-VTS can further specialize in areas of small animal internal medicine, large animal internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, and neurology. The following steps must be completed in order to earn credentials.
- Graduate from a veterinary technician school.
- Complete the minimum work experience of three years and 6,000 hours as a credentialed vet tech in the field of Internal Medicine.
- Have a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education within Internal Medicine.
- Submit three potential examination questions.
- Provide two letters of recommendation.
The Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians (AVDT) is the fourth most popular veterinary technician academy with over 54 members (DVM360). Their mission statement is “To promote an expansion of knowledge and education of veterinary dentistry among credentialed veterinary technicians and to expand the role of the veterinary dental technician in the workplace. The academy strives to advance the education of the whole dental community through continuing education, mentor programs, journal articles, and textbooks.” Credentialed technicians assist veterinarians in dental cleaning, procedures, and management. In order to obtain their credentials, technicians must complete the following.
- Graduate from an accredited veterinary technician school.
- Complete 25 hours of wet lab training and 15 hours of advanced dental procedures lectures.
- Provide case logs and case reports.
- Complete a set of dental radiographs.
- List and label veterinary dental equipment.
- Complete a required reading list.
While it takes substantial time and effort to complete credentialing in a veterinary technician specialty, it is well worth it in the end! You can enjoy a career providing the most advanced care to your patients.